Monday, 14 May 2007

Romans in Scotland: The Eagle of the Ninth

A report that 'The Eagle of the Ninth' , a story about the Roman legion which disappeared in Scotland and were never heard of again, is to be made into a film brought to mind a story told to us by a teacher in primary school a long time ago (about 50 years).

She maintained that in and around Dumbarton there is a story that the legion settled in Dumbarton attracted by the women there, and that is the reason why there is such a preponderence of Romanesque noses in the Dumbarton area. (See how nice I can be when I really try, but I mean big noses).

Anyone else heard of this or a similar story, because I'm not sure if she was taking the mickey out of us. She was that kind of teacher.

4 comments:

Fidothedog said...

The 9th story has been floating about for centuries, no real facts to back it up alas.

The Romans kept records of military defeats, victories and a whole legion going walkabout would have been big news.

I know that one of the legions based on the Scvottish border was later transferred to the middle east and nearly wiped out in heavy fighting against the Parthians.

Maybe that is the source for the tale?

red mist said...

Fido--thanks for the info.

Red Covenanter said...

Sorry Fido you are wrong mate. Its true that trendy modern academics "suggest" the ninth were transferred elsewhere but there are absolutely no facts behind that, merely a suggestion.

As for loss on the northern frontier there are clear references :
Hadrians biographer, Spartianus refers to serious disturbances in Britain when Hadrian ascended to power;

"the Britons could not be held under Roman control'

while the contemporary Cornellius Fronto tellingly records the probable demise of the ninth;

"as many Roman soldiers were killed by the Britons at the beginning of Hadrians rule as by the Jews"

(which cross refers to the loss of the twenty second legion Deiotariana in fighting in middle east). Fashionable modern suggestions that the ninth were transferred elsewhere in the empire for a date with destiny can be discounted as entirely unrecorded and unproven.

Mustang said...

Principal Dates in Roman-British History: Early 100s - around this time the IX Legion disappears. It is last recorded for certain on an inscription from York dated to AD 107-08. Source - Defying Rome by Guy de la Bedoyere, first published 2003.