Winifred Lamb was recruited in the final stages of World War One for Room 40 in the Admiralty where she worked alongside (Sir) John D. Beazley. Her work there is discussed by me in the History Hit programme, “Archaeologist Spies of World War One“. Archaeologists excavated the ancient past during peacetime, but in war they had a different mission – to play a vital role in modern military intelligence.
Historian of archaeology Dr Amara Thornton explores a network of archaeologist-spies, codebreaking, mapping and running agents, and with expert contributors delves into the extraordinary double lives led by the critical players in the international theatres of World War One.
Lamb later worked as the Honorary Keeper of Greek Antiquities at the Fitzwilliam Museum, and excavated in Greece through the British School at Athens.
Other members of the BSA also worked in intelligence during World War 1. They included David G. Hogarth, Alan J.B. Wace, Ernest A. Gardner, Harry Pirie-Gordon, and Richard M. Dawkins. Their work is explored in Sifting the Soil of Greece.
Carisbrooke Castle, south-west bastion © David Gill
The castle at Carisbrooke on the Isle of Wight had strategic importance in the face of a possible Spanish invasion. Modifications were made to the inner bailey in 1587, and more extensive bastions and outer works were constructed between 1597 and 1602 to the design of the Italian FederigoGiainibelli. These included the creation of arrow-headed bastions.
Carisbrooke Castle, south-west bastion © David Gill
Carisbrooke Castle, east bastion © David Gill
Inscription from Benwell, Hadrian’s Wall © David Gill
A small inscription was found on the north side of the fort at Benwell on Hadrian’s Wall (RIB 1341). It was first recorded in J. Brand’s History and Antiquities of the Town and County of Newcastle upon Tyne (1789). It is now displayed in the British Museum.
The inscription records work of the Legio II Augusta (repeated on the vexillum) based at Caerleon in south Wales. To the left is a goat, and to the right Pegasus, symbols of the legion.
Other building inscriptions of the Legio II Augusta, relating to the 2nd, 4th and 10th cohorts, are known from round Benwell (RIB 1342, 1343, 1344). David Breeze (Handbook, 14th ed., 158) suggests that they come from the line of the wall around Milecastle 7 (just to the west of the fort): ‘their style suggests a late-second-century date, implying that the Wall in this sector required repair at that time’.
The Solent provides access to the major harbours of Portsmouth and Southampton. Given the naval sensitivities of the area this seaway was heavily defended by a series of fortifications. The western entrance was defended by Hurst Castle built on a spit of land projecting into the Solent. The earliest phase was a Tudor fort
contemporary with Deal and Walmer Castles
in Kent. The castle was adapted in the Napoleonic Wars, and expanded in the 1850s, 1860s and 1870s. The English Heritage guidebook is by J.G. Coad.
Yarmouth Castle is located opposite Hurst Castle on the Isle of Wight. This was also a Tudor foundation. The guidebook is by S.E. Rigold
Calshot Castle is located at the mouth of Southampton Water. This was also part of the Tudor defences of the Solent. During the First World War, Calshot became a seaplane base to protect against submarines. The guidebook is by J.G. Coad.
Masada, Camp F © David Gill
The remains of the Roman siegeworks of Masada have been preserved in the desert. The main fort was located on the western side of Masada, opposite the northern palace. One of the roles was to provide a location of troops close to the siege ramp that was being constructed.
The siege wall can be seen in front of the fort heading for the edge of the wadi.
One of the current issues facing the forts is that increased visitor numbers threaten their preservation.
Gwyn Davies. “Under Siege: The Roman Field Works at Masada.” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, no. 362, 2011, pp. 65–83. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.5615/bullamerschoorie.362.0065.
Latin inscription, Brougham Castle © David Gill
The 13th century keep of Brougham Castle, Cumbria incorporates reused masonry from the Roman fort (Brocavum). A Latin funerary inscription is built into the ceiling of the second floor (RIB 787). The person named is Tittus M[..] who died around the age of 32 (‘[pl]us minus’). The monument was set up by his brother.
Cast of inscription from Hutcheson Hill, now in Chesters Museum © David Gill
In 1865 a Latin inscription (RIB 2198) was recovered at Hutcheson Hill in the western section of the Antonine Wall. Casts were made and the original was taken to the Chicago Museum where it was destroyed in the great fire of October 1871. [See also Canmore]
The inscription records a vexillatio of the 20th Legion Valeria Victrix that had constructed 3000 feet of the wall.
Another inscription, now in the Hunterian Museum, was found in 1969 near Hutcheson Hill and similarly records a vexillatio of the same legion that had constructed 3000 feet of the wall (AE 1971, no.225) [JSTOR].
A third inscription of the Twentieth Legion probably comes from near Duntocher (RIB 2199).
A vexillatio of the Sixth Legion Victrix Pia Fidelis was found at Duntocher (RIB 2200). This stretch was 3240 feet.