Sutcliff Wiki

This page lists the mentions of Roman military units. While military units are usually referred to by number in-text, e.g. "the Twentieth", Roman unit numbers and names were not necessarily unique, so more complete legionary designations in Latin are listed here to avoid confusion. The identification of Sutcliff's Auxiliary units with real auxilia is less clear, so English names are given as they appear in-text. Badges and additional titles listed are only those mentioned in-story.

Generally speaking, legions were regular infantry composed of Roman citizens while auxilia were recruited from non-citizens and might be either infantry or other roles – Sutcliff most frequently features cavalry Auxiliaries.



HQ: Glevum, Isca Silurium (Caerleon, Wales) – Badge: Capricorn (EotN), Pegasus (SAS) – Titles: Pia Fidelis (*actually the titles of Legio II Adiutrix)

  • 43 ("Caratacus", Heroes and History) – Commanded by Vespasian during the Claudian conquest of Britain by Aulus Plautius
  • 61 (Song for a Dark Queen) – Based in Glevum. Fails to reinforce Suetonius Paulinus in Londinium.
  • 61 ("Death of a City", The Capricorn Bracelet) – Joined by L. Calpurnius I and Centurion Gavrus
  • 79-83 (Eagle's Egg) – Part of Agricolan campaigns in southwest and highland Caledonia.
  • 79-83 (Frontier Wolf) – Built Castellum during Agricolan campaigns.
  • 103 (The Eagle of the Ninth) – Uncle Aquila took a contingent to Eburacum in one of the Troubles.
  • 123 (Rome Builds a Wall, TCB) – L. Calpurnius I; Agricolan campaigns
  • 126 (The Eagle of the Ninth) – Fourth Gaulish Cohort of auxiliaries at Isca Dumnoniorum under Marcus Flavius Aquila; Third on the Wall under Cassius.
  • c. 145-150 (Outcast) – Centurion Justinius builds the Rhee Wall of Romney Marsh.
  • c. 150 (Outcast) – Cornelius Chlorus is legate. Draft from the Upper and Lower Rhenus Provinces.
  • 280s (Sword at Sunset, The Silver Branch) – Build Rutupiae fortress under Carausius.
  • 292 (The Silver Branch) – centurion M. Flavius Aquila and surgeon Justinianus serve there.
  • 293 (The Silver Branch) –  Flavius and Justin posted to 8th cohort at Magnis on the Wall
  • 3?? – (Sword at Sunset) – Magnus Maximus serves
  • 380s (Caratacus) – Last legion to leave Britain
  • 585 (Dawn Wind) – Caerleon called "the City of Legions"


Badge: Centaur

  • 295 (The Silver Branch) – once followed Carausius in Gaul. A vexillation lands with Asklepiodotus. Associated with Gaulish cavalry.


HQ: Eburacum, Britain

  • 123 (Rome Builds a Wall, TCB) – 10th century 10th cohort under L. Calpurnius II detached for Hadrian's Wall construction at Cilurnum. Associated with Asturian cavalry.
  • 128 (The Eagle of the Ninth) – Claudius Hieronimianus is Legate at Eburacum; Servius Placidus is Tribune
  • c. 130 (Swallows in the Spring) – Took over Eburacum from 9th legion. Wall construction rotation. Associated with Dacian cavalry; Brigantes labour teams.
  • 150 (Outpost Fortress, TCB) – stationed at Trimontium. Associated with Dacian Horse.
  • 150s (A Circlet of Oak Leaves) – stationed at Trimontium with Dacian, Asturian, Tungrian, Cretan auxilia
  • 343 (Frontier Wolf) – deployed to put down Pict-Attacotti uprising
  • 380s (Sword at Sunset) – Maximus settled veterans in Armorica; Bedwyr is descended from them in 470s



HQ: Lindum, Eburacum, Britain

  • 43 ("Caratacus") – Part of the Claudian conquest of Britain under Aulus Plautius
  • 61 (Song for a Dark Queen) – Based in Lindum. Commanded by Petilis Cerialis. A vexillation destroyed above Camulodunum.
  • 61 (Death of a City, TCB) – Stationed at Lindum. Destroyed by Boudicca.
  • 80-83 (Eagle's Egg) – HQ at Eburacum. Stationed at Inchtuthil during Caledonian campaigns.
  • 117 (The Eagle of the Ninth) – Mutinied and destroyed in Valentia. Believed cursed by Boudicca.
  • 123 (Rome Builds a Wall, TCB) – Disappeared in Valentia.
  • c. 130 (Swallows in the Spring) – Two survivors reunite in the Sixth Victrix in Eburacum.
  • 292-5 (The Silver Branch) – Putative connection to M. Flavius Aquila. Eagle standard rediscovered in his house in Calleva and lost in basilica fire.
  • 480s (Sword at Sunset) – Damnonii horses descended from cavalry mounts salvaged from the lost legion.


HQ: Judaea – sp. "Fretencis" [sic]


  • 43 (Caratacus) – Part of Claudian conquest of Britain by Aulus Plautius
  • 61 (Song for a Dark Queen) – Suppress the druids at Mon under Suetonius Paulinus. Defeat Boudicca at Londinium.
  • 61 (Death of a City, TCB) – ditto
  • 83 (Eagle's Egg) – With Agricola in southwest Caledonia. Redeployed to Germany.
  • ? (Dawn Wind) – Standard-bearer Marcus Petronius buried at Viroconium, date unknown.


HQ: Deva, Britain – Badge: Charging boar

  • 43 (Caratacus) – Part of Claudian conquest of Britain by Aulus Plautius
  • 61 (Song for a Dark Queen) – Suppress the druids at Mon under Suetonius Paulinus. Defeat Boudicca at Londinium.
  • 61 (Death of a City, TCB) – ditto
  • 80 (Eagle's Egg) – Join IX Hispana at Corstopitum en route to Agricola in Caledonia
  • c. 80-100 (The Eagle of the Ninth) – Built and occupy Trimontium.
  • 120s (Sword at Sunset) – Built the Hunnum (Onnum) fort on Hadrian's Wall
  • c. 147 (Outcast) – Seen by Beric on the Aurelian Way outside Rome
  • 343 (Frontier Wolf) – deployed to put down Pict-Attacotti uprising
  • 480s (Sword at Sunset) – Artos's warband occupy abandoned fort at Deva ("the City of Legions")
  • ? (The Bridge-Builders) – Androphon's father commands on outpost near Canovium, North Wales


  • c. 150 (Outcast) – Stationed at Colonia Agrippina, Germania


  • 115 (The Eagle of the Ninth) – Guern promoted from the ranks to centurion of the Ninth Hispana.
  • 295 (The Silver Branch) – A "Lower Rhine Legion" that once followed Carausius. Lands in Britain with Asklepiodotus.



In Sutcliff's history, mounted archers nicknamed "the Frontier Wolves" in Britain and used as a punishment assignment. Sutcliff does not refer to them as Auxiliaries.

  • 180s (The Mark of the Horse Lord) – Titus Hilarion commands Theodosia on the Northern Wall. HQ is Credigone.
  • 280 (Frontier Scout, TCB) – L. Calpurnius V stationed at Credigone on the Northern Wall. Patrols extend northward to the river Tava.
  • 341-3 (Frontier Wolf) – Alexios Flavius Aquila commands 3rd Ordo at Castellum.
    • Glaucus Montanus commands Numerus and 1st Ordo at Bremenium.
    • Julius Gavros commands 2nd Ordo at Habitancum.
    • Former HQ is Castra Exploratum.
    • Locally recruited from Dalriads, Damnonii, Selgovae, and Votadini
    • Nicknamed "Wolves" by emperor Caracalla
    • Became mounted archers more than a generation previous via a draft of mutinous Syrians
    • 1st Attacotti formed for service in Belgica.


Probably intended for Cohors I Aelia Dacorum, actually an infantry cohort. Probably inherited from Kipling's Dacian Horse in Puck of Pook's Hill. The signature "fire ride", first mentioned in A Circlet of Oak Leaves, appears to be Sutcliff's own invention.




  • c. 450 (The Lantern Bearers) – Decurion Aquila stationed at Rutupiae. Last Roman troops to leave Britain.




  • 341 (Frontier Wolf) – Alexios Flavius Aquila is 2nd Centurion at Abusina on the Danube.


  • Early 3rd century (Traprain Law, TCB) – Calpurnius Struan is stationed on the Danube




  • 384 (The Eagles Fly South, TCB) – 2 Centuries transferred from Borcovicus to Onnum after Maximus's removals.


Spies. Locally recruited.

  • 341-3 (Frontier Wolf) – Main body in Valentia stationed at Scout HQ at Bremenium, with detachment at Castellum led by Druim.


  • 61 (Song for a Dark Queen) – Vanguard of the Roman attack on Mon. Strong swimmers from an estuarine territory.


  • 342 (Frontier Wolf) – Half a cohort of spearmen stationed at Habitancum.

The Emperor's Bodyguard[]

The Emperor's bodyguard – usually the emperor of Constantinople – is mentioned in several stories as a kind of ancient analogue for the French Foreign Legion, an exotic berth for young mercenaries. The famed Varangian Guard is not formed until the tenth century.

  • 343 (Frontier Wolf) – Alexios Flavius Aquila is offered a place in the western emperor Constans's guard, but declines.
  • 480 (Sword at Sunset) – Bedwyr is on his way to Constantinople when he meets Artos at Septimania.
  • 600 (The Shining Company) – Prosper and Cynan Mac Clydno go to Constantinople with the excuse of returning Phanes's archangel dagger to its original owner Alexion.
  • 989 (Blood Feud) – Byzantine emperor Basil II forms the Varangian Guard from Norse mercenary crews including Jestyn, Thormod.
  • 1100 (Knight's Fee) – Sir Everard d'Aguillon says that if he had lost the manor as a young man, he might have gone to the Byzantine emperor's bodyguard.

Medical Corps[]


  • 80-83 (Eagle's Egg) – Agricola's troops build Theodosia station.
  • c.150 (Outcast) – Beric & Jason are slave rowers in Alcestis of the Rhenus fleet. Sister ship Janiculum.
  • 180s (The Mark of the Horse Lord) – Theodosia semi-abandoned, garrisoned by Frontier Wolves.
  • 280 (Frontier Scout, TCB) – Thetis, Thunderer, and Orion, stationed at Inveresk, destroy Saxon envoy.
  • 290s (The Silver Branch) – Carausius builds Saxon Shore fleet and forts. Caleope stationed at Rutupiae.
  • 343 (Frontier Wolf) – Inveresk station long-abandoned.

Literary background[]

Sutcliff acknowledged in the monograph Rudyard Kipling that the Roman Britain chapters of Puck of Pook's Hill were a direct inspiration for The Eagle of the Ninth (and the rest of her Roman Britain stories thereby.) The following quotations from "A Centurion of the Thirtieth" echo Sutcliff's writing on the Roman military.

  • Compare Justin's attitude to the medical service in The Silver Branch, the preeminence of Egyptian legions in The Eagle of the Ninth, and the phrase "the City of Legions" in Dawn Wind and Sword at Sunset:
"My young brother, who was always interested in plants and roots, met the First Doctor of a Legion from the City of the Legions, and he decided that he would be an Army doctor. I do not think it is a profession for a well-born man, but then — I’m not my brother. He went to Rome to study medicine, and now he’s First Doctor of a Legion in Egypt — at Antinoe, I think, but I have not heard from him for some time."
  • The probable source of Sutcliff's favourite cavalry unit, the Dacians:
"I went to my Father, and said I should like to enter the Dacian Horse (I had seen some at Aquae Solis); but he said I had better begin service in a regular Legion from Rome."
  • Attitudes to auxiliaries:
"After our talk, seeing I was in earnest, the Pater sent me over to Clausentum to learn my foot-drill in a barrack full of foreign Auxiliaries — as unwashed and unshaved a mob of mixed barbarians as ever scrubbed a breast-plate. It was your stick in their stomachs and your shield in their faces to push them into any sort of formation. When I had learned my work the Instructor gave me a handful — and they were a handful!— of Gauls and Iberians to polish up till they were sent to their stations up-country."