January 14, 2017
Mark Olly discusses his book The Disappearing Ninth Legion.
(Stream / download audio at bottom of page)
At its height, the Roman Empire dominated five million square kilometres and over twenty per cent of the entire population of the Earth, conquered by its vast army, whose prowess in battle is the stuff of legend. Amid the triumph, however, there was of course tragedy, and sometimes curious conjunctions of both. Perhaps the most notorious is the tale of the Ninth Legion, a once proud fighting force among the very best the Empire deployed, who enjoyed victory after glorious victory across centuries before disappearing without trace. The theories about their vanishing are legion themselves, but none thus far has unearthed their fate. In The Disappearing Ninth Legion, Mark Olly traces their history and tests the theories in an effort to shed light on just what may have befallen them.
Along the way, we relive the might and majesty of the Roman Empire and its awesome power to both build and destroy. In particular, we cast our minds back to the Empire’s attempts to conquer Britain, regarded by many Romans as a near-mythical land of dark sorcery and atavistic barbarism. The road ultimately leads to York, established by the Ninth Legion in AD71 as a Northern outpost and later expanded into one of the most important cities in Roman Britain. Many remains of the original Roman fortress lie under the foundations of York Minster, and excavations in modern times have revealed much about the rise and fall of one of the greatest empires the world has ever seen. But what of the disappearing Ninth Legion?
Previous interview with Mark Olly:
Revealing the Green Man