Sunday, 7 July 2013

Was the Ninth legion wiped out by the Picts? Part III



Okay, so if the Pictones were most likely incapable of raising a force large enough to wipe out an entire Roman legion, then what's the story with the Ninth? Well, the problem for the Ninth is that after being listed in Trajan's legionary records in 108AD, the next listing of legions that survives to the present time is from 165AD - during the reign of Marcus Aurelius...and in the 165AD list, the Ninth Legion and the Twenty-Second Legion are both missing. So what's the story?

I'm tending to bureaucracy on this one, and thanks to Boudica we've got a good idea of the bureaucratic end of the Ninth. Remember the British uprising in 61AD wiped out the Ninth Legion? That means a new enlistment was undertaken the same year or 62AD. And this means the Ninth Legion was due for retirement and another enlisting in 86-87AD. Add another twenty-five years for the next enlistment and the Ninth Legion during Trajan's reign was due for retirement in 111-112AD, just three or four years after it's last mention in the 'official' records.

Is the year 111-112AD important? Well, we know several legions were retired during this period - including the Fifth, Eleventh and Fourteenth. So it appears that the entire Roman army was on the move during the 2nd-century 'teens'. The Sixth was moved from Spain to Britain to replace the Ninth, presumably upon its retirement, and with Trajan's military conquests at an end, his successor, Hadrian may have taken a more rationalist view of his forces and not raised another 'Ninth'. Is that what happened to the Ninth then, it was retired and never formed again? Well, it could be the case...but one thing is almost for sure, no matter what the movies say about the Ninth's disappearance, the Picts probably had very little to do with it.  For more on Roman legions you can read 'Vagabond' - available from Amazon, just follow the links