Bede then discoursed on
the subject of the Emperor Hadrian, for whom the wall was named.
He said it was written that after a particularly fierce battle Hadrian
ordered rings drawn around all the corpses, Roman and Caledonian combined.
His officers, in accordance with his will, filled 100 goat skin bags, fifty
with black ash, fifty with iron oxide. After each ring was made the
corresponding corpse was removed. When Hadrian made his inspection
the next day he found that more than three quarters of the rings were overlapping.
And if one paid close attention, remarked Hadrian in writing of the incident
near his death, it became clear that each ring, no matter how far removed
it was from the others, was, by some aspect of those others, implied.
Bede then went on to say that it had since been shown that Hadrian had
made no such inspection; that, in fact, Hadrian had been no where near
Caledonia at the time of the presumptive battle; that there was, in fact,
some doubt as to whether such a battle had, within the posited time frame,
occurred at all. What was clear, Bede said, was that 1) Hadrian was
near death at the time he wrote of the hypothetical incident, and that
2) at the bottom of the remarks in question, in a barely legible hand,
one that bore even greater signs of his rapidly advancing pleurisy, he
had written, wrong.