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We came at last to long capes stretching into winding waters, and on a grey beach below us we saw ships drawn up. Forty-seven we counted—not Roman galleys but the raven-winged ships from the North … Men moved in the ships, and the sun flashed on their helmets—winged helmets of the red-haired men from the North where Rome does not rule. We watched, and we counted, and we wondered …


This is from “On The Great Wall” in Puck of Pook’s Hill.

Parnesius and Pertinax are Roman officers on Hadrian’s Wall across northern Britain, guarding the northern boundary of the Empire. Hunting in Pict country beyond the Wall, they come on a fleet of long-ships away on the western coast. These are the wild Saxons, who one day—when the Romans have gone—will make Britain their own.