Thursday, 4 April 2013

D is for Deva

D is for  Decadence, Depravity and lots of other D's ...

but I'm not going to go into them today!

The Romans (if Suetonius is to be believed)  did a lot of the former two, but I'm not so sure they were managing much of that in northern Britannia in AD 71.

So, my D is for...

DEVA Victrix (Chester) 

In AD 70 Agricola was given command of the Legio XX in Britannia after Vespasian became Emperor, his military campaigns mainly covering territory in western areas. Just a couple of years prior to that, Legio XIV Gemini - which had been stationed at Viroconium Cornoviorum (Wroxeter) in the lands of the Cornovii - had been pulled out and sent to Gaul after highly distinguishing itself during the Bouddican revolts. After that Legio XX, led by Agricola, probably based itself at Viroconium Cornoviorum (Wroxeter) around AD 70.

Wikimedia Commons

Viroconium Cornoviorum (Wroxeter) was a strategically useful site, handy for attempts to subdue the continuously warring tribes of what we now call Wales but it wasn’t coastal. Agricola was set to also subdue the Setantii and Brigantes of the western side of Britannia and for this a base with western sea access was very desirable.

Finding somewhere to divide the Brigantes and the Ordovices was great strategy. 

Deva-also known as Deva Victrix-( Chester) was the chosen place at the mouth of the River Dee. A sandstone cliff, close to the natural sea harbour, was the selected site for a fortress. This afforded excellent views, the river below the cliff was navigable and perfect for transportation of goods and personnel, the placing of the fortress at the bend of the river giving some protection.

It’s likely that the II Adiutrix (Auxiliary) Legion were sent to the site to begin the first wooden construction during the early AD 70s, evidence of establishment having been found in lead ingots dated for AD 74. Whether or not the site was used earlier than AD 74, for a temporary camp, I believe has yet to be established.

The fortress at Deva, covering 25 hectares, was the largest to be constructed in Britain in the AD 70s.

Sad I may be, but I’ve had a lot of fun using the Latin names for the fortresses in my current writing in progress, though remembering what was where has been quite a challenge.


I've used the fortresses at Viroconium and Deva in my current writing. Agricola being there with my characters is down to my imagination, but I'm sure that Agricola and Cerialis used Deva to best advantage. 


  1. I can't seem to get the video links to work Nancy but they are not spoiling my enjoyment of your fascinating posts!

    1. Hi Ailsa, they're just links to Wikimedia Commons - where I got the images from.

  2. Awesome factiods! Isn't amazing how many wonderful things we learn in the pursuit of writing?

    1. Absolutely! One man's meat is another man's poison... :-) Roman food to come soon!


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