So I want to talk about the Roman legion as a generator of social capital, and as teacher of skills, and bridge the gap between them to make a coherent picture out of what was happening with the army in the crisis of the third century. And I want to circle in on a subject that has enormous potential for the squicky, which strikes me as existing at the centre of the conversation.
If we talk about the legion as a repository of skills, it is going to be the extraordinary finds in the north of England that focus our attention. You know, because King Arthur was a Sarmatian cavalrymen in an auxiliary cavalry regiment who woke up one day to find the Roman Empire missing. So he fought some genocidal Saxons and built a hall at Birdsowald and made Keira Knightley its lady and blah blah Britain!(Or something like that; I'm hampered by not actually having seen the movie, so this is a bit inferential. The Youtube suggests that this movie is good at making people feel ways about stuff, but I'm not sure whether that's Arthurmania, North Country patriotism, or Keira. Also, white horses galloping across the moor.
So we can talk about things like the vast trove of ironware, including 750,000 nails, found at the abandoned camp at Inchtuthil. This gives us some sense of the level of industrial activity at a full legionary camp, and their possible role in deepening the skill base of the iron age in the north.
But that's not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about things I've talked about long ago. It's the lazy man's way, and the first step on the downwards slope: so, tents.