Legio IX Hispana had a long and active history, later founding York from where it guarded the northern frontiers in Britain. But the last evidence for its existence in Britain comes from AD 108. The mystery of their disappearance has inspired debate and imagination for decades. The most popular theory, immortalized in Rosemary Sutcliffe’s novel The Eagle of the Ninth, is that the legion was sent to fight the Caledonians in Scotland and wiped out there.
But more recent archaeology (including evidence that London was burnt to the ground and dozens of decapitated heads) suggests a crisis, not on the border but in the heart of the province, previously thought to have been peaceful at this time. What if IX Hispana took part in a rebellion, leading to their punishment, disbandment and damnatio memoriae (official erasure from the records)? This proposed ‘Hadrianic War’ would then be the real context for Hadrian’s ‘visit’ in 122 with a whole legion, VI Victrix, which replaced the ‘vanished’ IX as the garrison at York. Other theories are that it was lost on the Rhine or Danube, or in the East. Simon Elliott considers the evidence for these four theories, and other possibilities.
"A meticulous work of detailed and document scholarship... Of immense value for historical scholarship and an inherently fascinating read for the non-specialists general reader..." ~Midwest Book Review
"[A] great and fascinating read... this will definitely appeal to military historians, those who love a good mystery and wargamers. I can’t recommend this book enough..." ~Jason Hubbard, Irregular Magazine, Issue 16 Volume 2 / Summer 2021
"The story alone would be enthralling, but Simon Elliott is the perfect guide to take us through the pages of history and across the entire Empire. He is deeply knowledgeable, rigorously skeptical and quite happy to present his own ideas and then knock them down in favor of better ones." ~Aspects on History
"Here we have an historical detective story pursued with academic rigor. We highly recommend this book." ~Clash of Steel
"[A]n excellent book... packed with details... well researched, the theories were supported and it was a very readable book too... very highly recommended!!" ~Donna's Book Blog
"...a balanced and comprehensive account which offers the reader a series of snapshots of moments when the Ninth Legion might have been annihilated. In doing so, it provides an insight into many aspects of Roman political, military and economic organization during the first and second centuries AD." ~Dodging Arrows
"An excellent book, well written and not at all dry reading." ~Army Rumour Service
Incredibly well researched, Simon Elliott uses his extensive knowledge of this Roman military machine to offer all possible scenarios for the fate of the IXth legion... the investigation process is just as entertaining as [his] conclusions... well worth a read." ~History... The Interesting Bits!
"...highly recommended to anyone with at least a passing interest in Roman history." ~The Borgia Bull
"Elliott brings us close to the solution with a clear deductive method and a flawless analysis of historical sources!" ~Omne Ignotum Pro Magnifico
"The highlight of the book is certainly the events of the mid 120s, from Dominic Perring’s 2017 report of his London excavations, with its proposal of a Hadrianic War there." ~Classics for All
"This is an inspiring and gripping piece of detective work of one of the great Roman mysteries of the missing IXth Legion Hispana. This book is a must have for all people interested in Roman history!" ~Roman History Blog
"A really intriguing read. It is hard to imagine losing a whole Legion—but as we know it wasn’t the first time." ~Medieval Sword School
"A new book on the force made famous in The Eagle of the Ninth theorizes that its men met their deaths on a journey into a Caledonian ‘heart of darkness’." ~The Times
"An excellent inquiry into the fate of Legio IX Hispana. All of the options are discussed and the author’s view on its fate is well balanced. Good read." ~Michael McCarthy, author & naturalist