Auxiliary UnitMilitary

Romano British Troops Across the Roman Empire

As a condition of capitulation to the Romans British tribes would be asked to contribute auxiliary soldiers to fight in Roman Empire border areas. In Scotland troops from the Belgium/Dutch and German areas of the Rhine were used to fight against the Caledonians and in Europe troops from Britain appear to have been concentrated on the Rhine and Danube. Troops were never deployed in their home areas.

In Roman eyes, there was no distinction between tribes in Britain – recruits from Scotland would have been British. Some of the units below were raised in the time of Agricola and it crossed my mind that some of them may have been raised in conquered Scotland but it is mere speculation. The diagram below shows the location of funeral inscriptions of British soldiers.

British soldier headstones by Tatiana Ivleva CC BY 4.0

A further map showing British-style brooches, likely but not guaranteed to have been taken abroad by British units show a similar pattern.

British brooches by Tatiana Ivleva CC BY 4.0

Britsh Auxiliary Units

Each unit would have been around 500 men ( 480 to be precise) Many units were raised in Britain after 75 AD during the time of Agricola to be stationed in Germany, Holland and Belgium replacing units destroyed after the Batvian revolt. The recruitment of troops and their placement reflected the various wars and incursions from other peoples. Naming conventions changed over time and honorific titles may be added after successful battles such as “pia fidelis”.

Cohors I Britannica milliaria c. R. equitata85 ADRomania, Germany
Cohors I Brittonum milliaria85 ADRomania
Cohors II Brittonum98 ADRomania
Cohors III Brittonum equitata veterana100 ADRomania
Cohors III Augusta Nerviana (Pacensis milliaria?) Brittonum115 ADRomania
Cohors VI Brittonum equitata pf.96 ADGermany (116 AD)
Cohors I Aelia Brittonum milliaria equitata138 ADAustria (238 AD)
Cohors I Ulpia Brittonum (this may be the same unit as above)80 ADAustria
Cohors II Flavia Brittonum (this may be the same unit as above)100 ADBulgaria


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *