|Queen Boadicea (a modern view)|
by Chris Achilleos
The dramatic new evidence hinges on a single gravestone tribute and was brought to light by historian and film-maker Phil Hirst, whose documentary Rome’s Lost Legion will be screened next month.
‘The battle of Mons Graupius was thought to have marked the end of any serious threat to imperial might,’ he said. ‘But the discovery of a tombstone of a centurion stationed at the Northumbrian fort of Vindolanda shows the Romans were under attack from the north 20 years later.’
Historian Neil Faulkner, of Channel 4’s Time Team, said: ‘It is likely the insurgents formed a confederation of tribes. So what the Romans could have been facing was a rising of pretty well the whole of the north of Britain.’
Rome’s reaction after the Ninth’s disappearance lends weight to the theory. Reinforcements were drafted in to Britain to fight a major war at the beginning of Emperor Hadrian’s reign around 117 AD and the construction of Hadrian’s Wall was ordered.
Mr Hirst said: ‘The loss of the Ninth may have led Hadrian to realise that the total conquest of Britain was unachievable and a dividing wall needed to be built separating occupied territory from the barbarian hordes.’
Mr Faulkner added: ‘My guess is that the Ninth Legion was destroyed in a carefully executed ambush by northern tribes.’