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Roman Britain's Missing Legion (Hardback)

What Really Happened to IX Hispana?

Ancient History Rome Colour Books Military

By Dr Simon Elliott
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 208
Illustrations: 28 colour illustrations
ISBN: 9781526765727
Published: 28th February 2021

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Legio IX Hispana had a long and active history, later founding York from where it guarded the northern frontiers in Britain. But the last evidence for its existence in Britain comes from AD 108. The mystery of their disappearance has inspired debate and imagination for decades. The most popular theory, immortalized in Rosemary Sutcliffe’s novel The Eagle of the Ninth, is that the legion was sent to fight the Caledonians in Scotland and wiped out there.

But more recent archaeology (including evidence that London was burnt to the ground and dozens of decapitated heads) suggests a crisis, not on the border but in the heart of the province, previously thought to have been peaceful at this time. What if IX Hispana took part in a rebellion, leading to their punishment, disbandment and damnatio memoriae (official erasure from the records)? This proposed ‘Hadrianic War’ would then be the real context for Hadrian’s ‘visit’ in 122 with a whole legion, VI Victrix, which replaced the ‘vanished’ IX as the garrison at York. Other theories are that it was lost on the Rhine or Danube, or in the East. Simon Elliott considers the evidence for these four theories, and other possibilities.

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About Dr Simon Elliott

Dr Simon Elliott is an archaeologist, historian and broadcaster, and a former editor at both Jane’s Defence Weekly and Flight International. He has a PhD in Classics and Archaeology from the University of Kent, where he is now an Honorary Research Fellow, and has an MA in Archaeology from UCL and an MA in War Studies from KCL.


His research has been published in History Today, RUSI Journal, Military History Monthly and British Archaeology and many other periodicals, and he is the author of six mainstream history books currently on sale or pre-sale, one a Military History Matters Book of the Year and one an Amazon number 1 best seller. Simon lectures widely to local history societies and archaeological groups. He is co-Director of the Roman villa excavation at Teston and is Trustee of the Council for british Archaeology and Trustee of museum of London Archaeology. He makes frequent appearances on TV as a Roman expert.

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