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John Hodgson Wrote a 166 Page Footnote

John Hodgson’s 1840 History of Northumberland part II, vol III contains a single footnote about Roman walls11In particular the Roman Wall, which I generally know as Hadrian’s Wall, but it was this footnote that established that it was Hadrian who built it. that runs from page 157 to page 322. It has its own chapters, footnotes, diagrams, full-page plates, tables, and index.22The containing volume doesn’t have an index of its own. In the preface, James Raine writes that Hodgson’s failing health prevented him from completing that index. (iv). Its structure (including Chapter 1, which is contained in the previous footnote spanning from page 149 to 157) takes up three pages of the main volume’s table of contents.

1In particular the Roman Wall, which I generally know as Hadrian’s Wall, but it was this footnote that established that it was Hadrian who built it.
2The containing volume doesn’t have an index of its own. In the preface, James Raine writes that Hodgson’s failing health prevented him from completing that index. (iv).

Despite the terrifying scope of the footnote, Hodgson writes in the preface, “Though my volumes increase, I study brevity. On the Roman Wall, I have omitted much that I would have liked to have said” (vii). In The Footnote’s conclusion, Hodgson expands that he would have published 1,200 pages of material, but chose to substantially edit it down and publish it as a footnote because the small text would limit production costs (305).

Page xvi
Page xvii

Partial table of contents for The Footnote, embedded within the table of contents for the containing text.

A neat typesetting detail: The Footnote’s table of contents are set in two columns, like The Footnote itself.

Page 157

The start of The Footnote (labeled “II). Only two lines are allocated to the containing text; by page 175 even that disappears as The Footnote takes over the entire page.

Page 192 with illustrations of stone reliefs and a table of astrological signs

The Footnote contains its own footnotes, tables, and illustrations.

Page 193
Page 294a plate

A full page plate between pages 294 and 295, “Views of Hadrian’s Murus on Walltown Crags” by William Collard.

Page 321

Part of the index for The Footnote.

Zerby (1) first alerted me to this footnote.

Sources

  1. John Hodgson. History of Northumberland. Part II, vol. III, 1840.
  2. Chuck Zerby. The Devil’s Details: A History of Footnotes. 2003.