14 – The Mystery of the Ninth Legion

Ok, I’ll be the first to admit this one is a little confusing. After all, the whole mystery is more than a little confusing. So here is a list of the bits of evidence we’re talking about.

  • The Ninth was nearly destroyed in a night assault by the Caledonians during Agricola’s northern campaign.
  • The last known battle the Ninth was in was Mons Graupius.
  • 108 AD, The Ninth built a gate at Eboracum (York).
  • Post 117 AD (probably 119 to 121) there was a major rebellion in Britannia.
  • 80’s AD or 121 AD, there were tiles at Nijmegen (Holland) stamped by the Ninth.
  • Tiles similar to those were also found at Carlisle.
  • A tombstone at Ferentinum references an emergency in Britannia that required 3,000 reinforcements.
  • 122 AD, Hadrian traveled to Britannia to “correct many faults” and he brought with him the Sixth Legion.
  • The Sixth legion took the post of Eboracum, which was the Ninth’s post. No mention is made of where the Ninth went.
  • 142 AD, Governor Carus, who served with the Ninth, became the Governor of Arabia.
  • Frontinus writes to Emperor Aurelius reminding him how his grandfather (Hadrian) suffered a major loss of troops to the Jews and the Britons.
  • 162 AD, the Aurelian columns don’t list the Ninth or Twenty Second legions.
  • The Twenty Second probably served in the Jewish wars and the Ninth was stationed in Britannia.

That should just about cover it.

Oh, and The Eagle is not a good film.

(History of Britain, History of England, History of Wales, History of Scotland, Celtic History, Roman History)

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  1. I am absolutely loving your series but I am not able to download your most recent podcast, The Mystery of the Ninth Legion, to my iPod, despite having booted and rebooted my computer, reconfiguring the iPod and opening, closing and reopening iTunes. In order to see if it was a problem with the album, I tried downloading one of your earlier podcasts again and it worked flawlessly. Any suggestions?


  2. Hi Brian, can you give it a try again? I just checked it on my machine and it seems to work, so maybe it was just a bug on the server that’s been resolved. If it still persists, can you give me some more information? For example, are you trying to open it up on a computer, or directly through your ipod?

    1. Thanks for answering, Jamie. Yes, I’ve been downloading your series from iTunes and listening to it on my iPod. The trouble with the Ninth Legion episode still persists, despite the fact that I’ve had no trouble downloading the newest episode, Hadrian’s Wall. I don’t want to take your attention away from creating this marvelous podcast, so if you are stymied for a solution, I’ll Google the issue and get back to you with whatever successful answer that comes up.

        1. Success! Apologies for not knowing I have some kind of 25 meg file limit on my e-mail account, but your suggestion to download it to my computer using the URL you sent me worked. This senior citizen still hasn’t figured out how to get it from the “recently added” window on iTunes to my iPod but, hey, I’m able to listen to it through my computer so, happiness is…

          And thanks for all the work. You’re a special guy who goes above and beyond.


        2. Great news! I hope it was worth all the trouble, haha! Please let me know if you have any other issues.

  3. Jamie,

    I completely agree with your assessment of The Eagle. I was so excited given that this was a Roman historical drama. But it was one of the worst movies I have ever seen. It’s awful at every level, historical accuracy, history, acting, direction, screenplay. I still get angry just thinking about it!!! I had to re-watch a few episodes of HBO’s Rome, and read some Robert Harris and Steven Saylor to cleanse my historical entertainment palate. I’m going to stop now or you might have to censor this post ;)

    1. There was another film about that period, it was called Centurion. While it wasn’t a good movie, it was certainly more entertaining than The Eagle.

      1. Yep, I watched Centurion and liked it a lot better than the Eagle. I agree, on its own it was not that great of a movie but it certainly was entertaining, and the production values and acting were much better. I am a big fan of Dominick West after watching The Wire, and loved him in the Centurion despite his short screen time.

  4. Hey, I’ve just started listening to your series and I’m really enjoying it so far!

    I know this is way to late to change it, but you pronounced the name Nijmegen incorrectly. Using other words to approximate, it’s pronounced nigh-may-gun, at least I’m pretty sure it’s like this.

    Just thought I’d let you know :-)

  5. Not to necromance this, but I just found your podcast. And you are right: The Eagle was absolutely *god-awful*!

  6. I had pushed all remembrance of The Eagle out of my mind until this podcast…I only watched about 20 minutes of it. Painful memories to bring up.

  7. I am just loving these casts great addition to the long commute to my school in the bronx every am. Great and interesting topic well done brian

  8. I just started listening and I’m loving the podcast. I do have to agree with the comment above though that Nijmegen is pronounced incorrectly. I pronounce it closer to NAY-may-hen (my grandfather is from nearby). Just wanted to mention it in case you decide to re-record if there’s new exciting evidence!

  9. Hey Jamie I have a question… when you refer to the column with the missing legions…. you mentioned the XXII Legion was missing, I’m not familiar with this column but am I right in assuming you don’t mean the XXII Primigenia Pia Fidelis? Because I know there are references to that Legion staying in Mongontiactum until the 3rd Century AD.

  10. Hey Jamie. I know you’ve moved on, but what about another theory? Is it possible that the Ninth Legion “went native?” Could their numbers have just been reduced through attrition and they just kind of got absorbed by the locals?

  11. Hey Jamie, toward the end of what we definitively know about the IX Legion, about how many guys are we talking about? How about yet another theory? Is it possible that they could have “gone native?” Could the IX have been absorbed by the local population and just kind of “blended in?” This type of thing is not without precedent. I may be totally insane, but I’d love to know your thoughts.

  12. Hi, Jamie, I am a big fan of various Harry Potter fanfiction (thus I spent my last year mentally in UK, thus your podcast ;)), and I especially like small group of stories which are located in the wizarding world but a way earlier (medieval or even late Roman). So, should I remind you that the most widespread British dragon is the Hebridean Black? Isn’t it obvious what happened to the Ninth Legion?

  13. v strange that ‘ ebor’ of eborum etc might be linked to yew b/c 3-4000 yr old texts and maybe egyptian ? hieroglyphs have ‘ eber’ to mean wandering person from which we get the wandering tribe of ‘ hebrews’

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