Recently, I posted about Hadrian’s Wall, Antoine’s Wall and the fall of Rome. When I was trying to figure out how much manganese was being carried on the USS Cyclops these 4 things collided. One of the sites I pulled up had the story of the 9th Legion, which is part of the reason Rome fell.
The 9th Legion of the Roman Army was the best funded and best trained soldiers to exist in Roman history. Made up of soldiers from all over the Roman Empire, the 9th Legion was instrumental in keeping the empire secure as well as expanding it.
When a Roman Emperor needed to brutally crush an opponent, the 9th Legion was sent and so it was sent into Britain to deal with the Picts of Scotland. Other legions had been sent before Emperor Antoine sent the 9th Legion, but most had done the unforgivable and retreated.
The fierceness of the Pict warriors was quickly becoming legendary among those in the Roman Empire. They were considered undefeatable, which is why Hadrian built a wall. Which was followed by Antoine. However, Antoine also decided to crush the Picts and sent the 9th legion.
To understand why the 9th Legion was sent into Scotland, one has to know a bit about the Picts. The Picts really were fierce warriors. They were trained in combat much like Spartans trained, from the time they were toddlers. They fought nude or wearing the pelts of wolves and bears. And killing a wolf or bear was one of the rites of passage for Pict males. Even their women were warriors. Men and women were both heavily tattooed, scars were status symbols to be shown off and a scar that couldn’t be seen was worthless. They used war drums, huge war drums that were beaten in a steady rhythm by teen boys and girls. Shamans stood on the battlefield and chanted prayers despite the fighting going on around them. They were intimidating and the Legions of Rome were just the first in a long line of ambitious conquerors who turned tail and ran from them. Most history books call them Celts, but they were actually Picts, which is slightly different ethnically speaking than a Celt (Ireland was Celtic).
As the 9th Legion pushed into Scotland the blood flowed from both sides of the conflict and then the 9th Legion disappeared, all 5,000 men were never heard from again. Considering they were battling Picts as they moved further north into Scotland, one can safely assume they were slaughtered by the Picts…
Or can they?
Therein lies the mystery. If they were being defeated by the Picts, why didn’t they send a messenger back to let the Roman Empire know they were facing defeat? Or several messengers; as a precaution in case a single messenger was captured. Theories suggest the 9th Legion was so confident, it didn’t realize it was losing and was about to be slaughtered and therefore didn’t know they needed to let the empire know.
Which isn’t implausible, right? I’m not a huge supporter of this idea simply because 5,000 men slain in battle is a lot, it isn’t exactly idea for an ambush situation. Of course, some of those 5,000 were dead on the southern battlefields, but I would think as well trained as the 9th Legion was, that they would have known their losses were too heavy to sustain a push north without reinforcements coming up behind them to help clear the path back to conquered Roman lands.
The disappearance of the 9th Legion greatly changed the abilities of the Roman Empire’s army. As a matter of fact, before the Vandals attacked Rome directly, Rome did send a legion of soldiers out to deal with them. They were unsuccessful. Had the Empire still had the training that was given to the 9th Legion accessible to other legions, it is possible that the Vandals would have been defeated before they made it to Rome and therefore changed all of western history.
Alas, it was not to be, whether slaughtered by the Picts in Scotland or swallowed by a portal, is unknown, but it was a contributing factor to the fall of Rome.