Founded by the roman emperor Augustus around the year 41 B.C., Legion XVII (Seventeenth Legion) of the Imperial Roman Army disappeared in the year 9 A.D. after being sent to deal with troubling tribes in Germanica.
But, what happened to them has always been a bit of a mystery.
According to an urban legend, they went onto Scotland after Germanica and disappeared around the area of Dunbartonshire.
This myth has now become cemented in history thanks to popular fiction such as “The Eagle of the Ninth” and films like “Centurion and The Eagle”, all based in Scotland.
Artifacts of this legion were actually found at Hadrian’s Wall, and one theory suggests that, after the battle of Teutoburg Forest (September 9, 9) where Legion XVII took a complete hammering from the locals, the group disbanded.
What was left of the legion was deployed to Britannica to deal with issues at Hadrian’s Wall.
Historically, this legion was probably created to deal with Sextus Pompey, the last opponent of the second triumvirate, garrisoned in Sicily and threatening Rome’s grain supply.
Following the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra in the battle of Actium (31 BC), the legion was stationed in Gaul and, in the end of the 1st century BC, it was sent to the Germania provinces in the Rhine and was stationed in Castra Vetera (Xanten).
In AD 5, the provinces were pacified and Publius Quinctilius Varus was assigned governor and commander of the Germania army.
On September 9, Arminius, leader of the Cheruscan allies, reported a rebellion in the Rhine area. Without suspecting the information received, Varus took his three legions, the XVII along with XVIII and XIX, and headed west. On 9 September, near modern Osnabrück, the Cheruscii led by Arminius ambushed the governor’s army. All three legions were destroyed in what is known as the battle of the Teutoburg Forest and their standards lost forever.
Either way, after its destruction, the Romans never used this legion number again.
Whatever the truth may be, you can now see them on Cycle Route 75 between Kilmacolm and Bridge of Weir thanks to Cornwall-based artist David Kemp.
In 1990, he crafted these sculptures of Roman soldiers from recycled materials including gas cylinders.
Images from web – Google Research