[The following passage opens Bruce's Chapter II, "A General Description of the Line of the Wall." The decorative "In" is in the original.
Note Bruce's claim — surely highly improbable if not obviously false — that Rome's imperial legions left more traces in England than anywhere else. Assuming his work anticipated archeology in France, Spain, and the Middle East, or that he did not know of research in other countries, we still have to recognize how much Bruce wanted English history to be seen as entwined with that of imperial Rome — GPL].
n few parts of the world are there such evident traces of the march of Roman legions as in Britain. In the northern counties of England especially, the footprints of the Empire are very distinct. Northumberland, as Wallis long ago remarked, is Roman ground.
Every other monument in Britain, however, yields in importance to The Roman Wall. " Certes," says Camden, speaking of the Roman remains in Britain, " they are works of exceeding great admiration, and sumptuous magnificence, but especially the Picts Wall." As this work. in grandeur of conception, is worthy of the Mistress of Nations, so, in durability of structure, is it the becoming offspring of the Eternal City.
"They dreamt not of a perishable home
Who thus could build."
A dead Wall may seem to many persons a very unpromising subject. The stones are indeed inanimate, but he who has a head to think, and a heart to feel, will find them suggestive of bright ideas and melting sympathies; though dead themselves, they will be the cause of mental life in him. A large part of the knowledge which we possess of the early history of our country has been dug out of the ground. The spade and the plough of the rustic have often exposed documents, which have not only revealed the movements, but given us an insight into the modes of thought and feelings of those who have slept in the dust for centuries. The casual wanderer along the relics of the Wall may not succeed in culling facts that are new to the historian, but he will probably get those vivid glances into the Roman character, and acquire that personal interest in Roman story, which will give to the prosaic records of chroniclers a reality and a charm which they did not before possess. [1-2]
Bruce, John Collingwood. The Roman Wall: A Description of the Mural Barrier of the North of England. 3rd ed. London: Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer, 1867.
Last modified 8 August 2006