Ancient Rome is a period of history that most of us feel fascinated by. It is also a time of society that we do not truly understand – there are many assumptions made, and many parts of history are filled in with myths and hearsay. That being said, one thing that is often claimed about Ancient Rome is its legions of infantry. Did you know, though, that were nine legions of the Ancient Roman army?
In most common discussions, only eight are known. When Claudius wished to invade the British in 43AD, though, he deployed his infamous Ninth Legion to take on the task. They soon overcame the British army and managed to establish a fort in Lincoln in the East Midlands. They were also asked to build a fort in York, then known as Eboracum, before heading off to meet their fate against the Scots.
The Ninth Legion saw many of its members die in the fort in York, though, when it was severely damaged during battles. The fort was eventually rebuilt to an extent in 108AD, and this is the last time in any recorded history that we see any meaningful mention of the Ninth Legion.
Theories for this are numerous. One claim is that the Ninth Legion was ambushed, attacked, and wiped out en masse – though this is a claim with nothing to back it up. However, some evidence found in the Netherlands shows that they might have been there in the 104-120AD period. Other historians believe, though, that the Legion never left Britain after their success here.
One thing is for sure, though: this was an elite group of warriors who were left to take on one of the most important tasks of Ancient Rome. The idea that they marched to Scotland and were never seen again, though, adds an ominous mystery to a fighting unit that few know about. With so little history to tie us to these great warriors and what they achieved, though, it is likely that the Ninth Legion of Ancient Rome will go down as a myth as much as anything else.