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Waspie_Dwarf

The Roman Ninth Legion's mysterious loss

16 posts in this topic

The disappearance of Rome's Ninth Legion has long baffled historians, but could a brutal ambush have been the event that forged the England-Scotland border, asks archaeologist Dr Miles Russell.

One of the most enduring legends of Roman Britain concerns the disappearance of the Ninth Legion.

The theory that 5,000 of Rome's finest soldiers were lost in the swirling mists of Caledonia, as they marched north to put down a rebellion, forms the basis of a new film, The Eagle, but how much of it is true?

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Very interesting especially since I recently watched Centurion.

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Very interesting especially since I recently watched Centurion.

Watched that the other day too, wasn't hugely impressed. The Eagle is another UK film that deals with the 9th, think its out this week actually.

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History is extremely vague on the 9th, unlike that of the 17th, 18th and 19th Legions which we know as a fact were destroyed in the Teutoburg Forest in 41BC. Storytellers and screenwriters have a field day expressing their take on vague histories like this. Take King Arthur for example, which story/legend is true? Basically, it's all done for purely entertainment purposes with little regard to historical accuracy and record!

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Posted (edited)

History is extremely vague on the 9th, unlike that of the 17th, 18th and 19th Legions which we know as a fact were destroyed in the Teutoburg Forest in 41BC. Storytellers and screenwriters have a field day expressing their take on vague histories like this. Take King Arthur for example, which story/legend is true? Basically, it's all done for purely entertainment purposes with little regard to historical accuracy and record!

Yes I'm inclined to agree with High Gravity. The possible scenarios are endless but in the end are all speculative.

The 9th legion may have been slaughtered in rugged country somewhere in Scotland.

The legion may have been whittled away to a point where it was necessary to bolster the troops with fresh recruits and then renamed.

The legion may have been disbanded and / or absorbed into another equally weak formation.

Just as with the British Army today many old regiments have been lost to cuts in expenditure and I'm sure the Roman Empire had similar problems real or imagined.

Add to this that troop movements we often kept secret so as not to let the enemy know where next your army was to strike. Just as they are today.

What makes the story of the 9th legion interesting is that it's still possible that more information will be unearthed and a more accurate history may result one day.

Edited by Flashbangwollap

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I thought the eagle of the ninth was just a story

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I thought the Ninth was in Teutoburg Forest, under P. Quinctilius Varus

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Posted (edited)

I thought the Ninth was in Teutoburg Forest, under P. Quinctilius Varus

Ralph Graves' "The Lost Eagles" is probably not related, but it's the ancient Rome novel I always think of. I read it several times in mid-adolescence, including once out loud to my younger sister. I only reply because it sang so sweetly in my head full of memories, your mention of Quintilius Varus. I'm probably way off. Great book about tribune son Severus Varus, true tale or not. So sad, too. As an adult, I don't think I could take the sad parts anymore.

"Quintilius Varus, give me back my legions!" So, older Varus must be real, even if Severus Varus the son is made up.

I really want to see this movie. I wish it wild success.

Edited by Ashtarel

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Astarel I think I know the book you mention I didn't read it but I know it was about the Teutoberg forrest and that battle took place in nine AD. The movie The Eagle is base on Mary Suttecliff Eagle of the Ninth book.

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Astarel I think I know the book you mention I didn't read it but I know it was about the Teutoberg forrest and that battle took place in nine AD. The movie The Eagle is base on Mary Suttecliff Eagle of the Ninth book.

Hey, thanks. Interesting it was written by a woman. I'm going to see about reading it before the movie gets to DVD.

(On Severus Varus, that's NEPHEW, not son--before somebody reads what I wrote and spanks me.)

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Posted (edited)

Marcos Anthony Toledo, you are correct! 17th, 18th and 19th Legions was annihilated in 9AD, was founded in 41BC. It was said that Augustus would wander the palace grounds crying out loud, "Quintilius Varus give me back my Legions!" It is also said that there were survivors of the massacre, though not many. I would imagine that they were incorporated into other Legions. Perhaps that could be what happened to the 9th, if indeed the were annihilated in Scotland?

Edited by High Gravity

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I always figured as thier time in Briton wore on and more and more of the 9th were killed in skirmish after skirmish , destabilizing the unit, it just sort of eventually dissolved, with survivors wandering away, maybe trying to get back to thier own people or simply going "native" and assimilating into the local society. That is not a scenario that would look good in the histories and would explain why we know nothing of thier ultimate fate.

Just as the Spanish Armada left behind thier legacy in some darker skinned, dark eyed people in Wales, might not the Ninth have also left thier genetic footprints in Northern Briton. Perhaps instead of looking for physical artifacts we should look at DNA and oral histories.

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I think the 9th made good fertilizer, but maybe that's just my rye sense of humor!

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They survived and Took over a small tribe. In a quest to unite Germania, they started mining iron and coal to make steel walls and weapons. It then became the nation of Gothia.Or maybe thats my imagination.

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