Roman / Celtic Research

The following are in no particular order, but are from my research writing for the mini launch tour for AFTER WHORL: BRAN REBORN, Book 2 of my Celtic Fervour series of historical romantic adventures.(In some part the information has been used in a guest post elsewhere but written entirely by me)

Vespasian and The Flavians

(Plaster cast in Pushkin Museum –copy from a bust in the Louvre.

Titus Flavius Vespasianus became emperor of the Roman Empire in July AD 69 at the age of almost 60, establishing the short-lived dynasty of ‘Flavians’. From relatively humble origins of equestrian birth, he followed his maternal uncle and brother to become a senator, the wealth his father accruing as a tax collector elevating their family to patrician status. In his early thirties, Vespasian served as a military tribune during the reign of Tiberius, and in AD 40 he went on to become a praetor during Caligula’s reign.

When Claudius became emperor in AD 41 Vespasian became the legate of the Legio II Augusta and served in Germania. When Claudius set to conquer Britannia in AD 43, Vespasian joined the campaign with his Legio II Augusta. In what is now termed the south of England (east and west) Vespasian distinguished himself with his use of siege weapons against the heavily fortified settlements of the indigenous Celtic tribes, capturing and subduing a good number of these substantial hill forts. He was well lauded on his return to Rome with triumphal regalia.

He seems to have come in and out of favour during his career. In AD 51, he held consular office but then seems to have tactfully retired from public life till his return as pro-consul of Africa in AD 63. His lack of greed, and his evasion of the usual corruptive habits, earned him some contacts and friends - though not much money. Many thought him unwise not to line his own pockets, but it appears Vespasian’s priorities were different.

After the death of Nero, in AD 68, came the very turbulent time when Rome saw one emperor crowned by another in quick succession. Galba was followed by Otho, who was in turn succeeded by Vitellius. The supporters of Otho went looking for someone to follow instead of Vitellius and they settled on Vespasian who was still in North Africa. The machinations of how Vespasian eventually, and officially, was declared emperor can be covered in another blog. His growing fame in northern Africa, as something out of the natural, and was even of the supernatural, would make a whole blog post, but what is important for my writing is that he took up the reins proper as Emperor of the Roman Empire in AD 69.

(Romano painting- /wiki/File:Romano_Triumph_of_Titus_and_Vespasian.jpg)

The painting here is very intriguing. It represents the triumph of Vespasian’s son Titus when he captured the (Second) Temple of Jerusalem and made off with Jewish artefacts. In the chariot are both Vespasian and Titus- though Titus was the only one present at the siege of Jerusalem, Vespasian, still in Egypt.

Of his many endeavours, one of Vespasian’s main pieces of archaeological evidence is in Rome itself. In AD 70, Vespasian ordered the commencement of the building of the Colosseum in Rome – though it was not completed till AD 80, a short while after his death.


In my first Celtic Britain historical adventure – The Beltane Choice- I chose to set it in northern Britannia in AD 71. By then, Vespasian had been the emperor and ultimate decision maker for nearly two years. All of the Roman soldiers, serving in Britannia at the time covered in my first novel, executed the orders of their superiors who in turn looked to Vespasian’s top commands. 

In The Beltane Choice, and in my new follow on novels – After Whorl- the top ranking Romans are the governors of Britannia during the period AD 71 through to AD 84, and my fictitious Roman soldiers under their command – in particular my Gaius Livanus Valerius.

When Vespasian became emperor, the governor of Britannia was Vettius Bolanus who proved to be ineffective, his grip on control in the province not strong enough for his emperor. Bolanus was replaced in AD 71 by Quintus Petillius Cerialis- Vespasian’s brother-in-law. Next governor to serve in Britannia, and who features very briefly, in name only, in my novels is Sextus Julius Frontinus. Whether or not Frontinus directly followed the orders of Vespasian lies in the mists of time, but the policies of Frontinus in northern Britannia are crucial to the events in After Whorl- Bran Reborn. 

By AD 78, Vespasian had sent Gnaeus Julius Agricola back to Britannia as governor of the province. Agricola plays a minor role in my novel, but his directives are very important to the movements of my Roman Legate, Gaius Livanus Valerius. The northern campaigns of Agricola seem to have been left very much to Agricola’s discretion, regarding what was achievable.

Agricola continued with his northern Britannia campaign plans after the death of Vespasian in AD 79. Titus Flavius Vespasianus – Vespasian’s elder son – succeeded as emperor but he only lasted for two years and was followed by his younger brother, Domitian in AD 81. In AD 84, the time at which I have put my Battle of Mons Graupius, Domitian was emperor, his reign lasting until AD 96. Tacitus, son-in-law of Agricola, makes claim such a battle happened though evidence is virtually non-existent.

How much influence Domitian had over what Agricola actually did ‘on the ground’ during the ‘famed’ battle is unclear, to me, but I’m sure it would have been such a huge boost to the reputation of Agricola to send missives to Rome declaring that he had subdued all of the very northern tribes. The triumphal honours Agricola received on his return to Rome in late AD 84 bear out that something of merit did actually happen in north east Scotland – the large battle quoted having earned those honours.

Having served approximately six years as governor, longer than most governorship durations, Agricola seems to have fallen foul of Domitian’s favour. Whether that had something to do with what had happened in northern Britannia is an interesting conjecture.

What Domitian’s orders were, regarding the Roman soldiers left in northern Britannia after the  ‘Battle of Mons Graupius’ from AD 84 and AD 96 I have yet to do more research on.

But.. I will. I look forward to the challenge. And… I also look forward writing my next book during that period.

Alma Tadema’s Triumph of Titus: the Flavians

In this canvas, the artist shows Titus returning to Rome in triumph following his capture of Jerusalem in AD 70. 

His father, Emperor Vespasian, clad in a white toga, leads the procession. 

Titus comes next, holding the hand of his daughter, Julia, who turns to address her father's younger brother and successor, Domitian. 

In the background is the Temple of Jupiter Victor. Among the spoils from Jerusalem is a 7-branched candlestick from the temple. Alma-Tadema depicted these events by drawing on classical sources, like the reliefs on of the Arch of Titus and on the latest 19th-century scholarship regarding everyday life in Rome.

I think the representations of Vespasian to be all very similar, making me believe it may have been a good representation of his likeness.

The Triquetra Design (originally published as a post on this blog Dec 2013 which has subsequently been deleted)

I love my new book cover design so much that I’m writing about it, today. Although I’ve seen versions of the basic design in many situations, I’ve never taken the time to find out what it’s all about. 
First, though, I’ll say that I love my particular cover design because it’s so relevant in my forthcoming novel- not due to any religious significance but merely because there are three main characters - two men and a woman - who have different interactions with each other. 

No, my characters are definitely NOT involved in some kind of ‘threesome’ in the contemporary sexual usage of that word, but they do become interlinked at different times in the story.

The three protagonists are therefore the reason for me choosing the brooch design with three ‘branches’.

It’s, of course, wonderful that my publisher- Crooked Cat- offered me a few designs to choose from, the one chosen happily agreed on by all concerned!

So if the number 3 is significant for me, what does my symbol actually mean?

The triquetra at its simplest results from the Latin tri- meaning three and quetrus meaning cornered.
In some situations, it has been used to refer to the simplest of three cornered shapes. In others, the original three cornered shape is embellished, the lines softened or the lines convoluted to form more complex triangular interconnections. In northern Europe, rune stones have been found with examples of triquetra shapes and some very early Germanic coins also have three cornered designs on them. In Norse mythology the Valknut, a three cornered shape is a symbol associated with Odin.

How early the shape appeared to be carved on stones and to be used in metalwork is debatable. Those who believe its symbolism goes back to a much earlier era before the Christian tradition also tend towards the triune theory- that is triune meaning ‘three in one’- though which deities are involved may vary depending on the local use of the symbol. During the earliest times, the mother goddess is a likely constituent: possibly representing her at different life stages as in maiden, mother and old crone – similar to how it is used in Neo-Paganism.

The symbol was readily used in Insular Art/ Hiberno-Saxon Art after the Roman occupation of Britannia (current British Isles), roughly after the sixth century AD/CE. The insular aspect meaning of the ‘island’, from the Latin word insula, was coined for the particular style found in what is now Great Britain and Ireland- a style which differed from that in continental Europe. That’s not to say the style does not display European influences- because it can do.

Triquetra patterns are found on metal work and in illuminated manuscripts – many examples, for instance, are in The Book of Kells. Celtic crosses, slabs in graveyards and at sites of historical interest display triquetra patterns- these mainly from the early Christian period. I find it very interesting that it has been noted that in manuscripts the sign is rarely depicted on its own. It’s use as a margin/ space filler gives food for thought – as if the more complex interweaving designs may have been practised there.  In  knotwork panels it is used in conjunction with many other elements of design.
It has been widely recognised for many decades, even centuries, as a meaningful symbol by Celtic Christians, Pagan/ Neo- Pagans and others like Wiccan /Neo Wiccans. As well as representing the triple goddess (maiden, mother and crone) for some it means earth, sea, sky; perhaps even other elemental forces as in mind, body and soul; past, present and future. In popular culture, it has been used to represent many other ‘threesomes’. 
Whatever its use and purpose, it’s a very fascinating symbol. I love it.  

Celtic Farming - (from a guest post originally posted on Dec 9th 2013)

The Celtic tribes of Britain have often been recognised as warlike bands of men whose defence of their territory was fierce. It definitely seems to be true that, like most nations, they were very ready to defend their lands by taking up arms, but the Celts of Britannia were also basically faming communities. Their wealth lay in the land that they cultivated, and in the other natural resources which they exploited from the ground.

Wikimedia Commons- denarius Vespasian
Good crop yields meant potentially plenty to barter with since; in general, the Celts of my period didn’t trade for actual coin. That’s not to say the Celts never used coin at all. Evidence has been found of coins minted in the names of Celtic Chiefs around the period of AD 71, but I don’t believe most tribes used ‘coins’ as collateral in the way we do today. As status symbols, they would have been important - but I think the Brigante tribes of the north, who are in my novels, would not have expected regular coin-changing amongst themselves. 

(See some examples of Celtic coins on my Pinterest board )

However, any trade with the Roman Empire could have been lucrative and I’ve used that situation in After Whorl: Bran Reborn where my male and female protagonists set up regular trade with the nearby Roman forts which were springing up all over Brigantia. Of course, they’re doing more than just the trading of leather and wool- it’s a great excuse for allowing them to be able to do a little lucrative spying as well!

One reason for the Roman Empire’s wish to dominate the Island of Britannia was that it had very fertile lands in the southern areas – in what we might now term the southern English counties. Back in AD 71, the Celtic tribes of those areas may not have grown the varieties of crops that are currently raised there, but they were pretty successful at growing emmer wheat and similar grain crops. The grain levies that the Roman Empire demanded of the subdued Celtic tribes who lived there helped quite a bit to feed the Roman Army troops who were stationed in areas of mainland Europe where the growing of grain was poor. Grain was an essential part of the diet of the Roman soldier- unleavened bread and a sort of porridge – being the staple fare, so it was crucial for the Empire’s stability to provide the grain rations on a regular basis. Bag it up and ship it across the channel…seemed to be common practice for the Roman War Machine.
According to sources, the Roman Empire made written treaties with the Celts, whereby any surplus the Celts had (in excess of the Roman requisitioned crops) could be traded for Roman gold. The exchange of the actual coin was, I believe, a bit slow but was generally honoured by Governors of Britannia like Gnaeus Julius Agricola.

If the Celtic tribes hadn’t been good farmers, this would not have been a profitable source for the Roman usurpers. Crop rotation gave the Celts superior yields to those European farmers who didn’t take the trouble to practise such a simple idea: allowing the land to have a ‘break’ from one type of product was effective. From archaeological evidence, it seems the Celtic farmers were also more sophisticated than was first credited. Using an iron ploughshare was a huge advance on previous soil breaking techniques and the use of iron rimmed wheels made transportation of yields easier.

I’ve read that the Celts also began the practice of shoeing horses but need to see more evidence of that to be convinced how readily it happened in Britannia. Equally, I’d like to find more corroborating evidence that their flour milling techniques were superior to other races of the era - though what I’ve read, I don’t dispute. The use of the simple quern stone to mill grain was a very lengthy and repetitive process but quite effective. Larger scale production of this would be reasonable to imagine with some other animal providing the energy for turning the wheel like an oxen or a small Celtic horse - rather than the human hand (woman).

Where I live in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, there are many field areas which are demarcated by low granite walls, dry-stane dyked, which it’s thought might easily have foundations which were laid back in Celtic times. In many cases the walls are very, very old and they separate the typical strip field patterns of Celtic farmers. The Celtic farm strips were not randomly laid out- they were practical and sized according to what was reasonable for a small number of people to work during the growing and cropping season- locally set to a good day’s ploughing. Those Celtic farmers weren’t stupid!

I like to think that I’ve included historically accurate information in my Celtic Fervour series – at least that’s my intention and I sincerely hope you enjoy reading them!


Roman Military tribunes… Is the male protagonist in After Whorl- Bran Reborn a hunky Roman tribune?  Well…actually no. Nevertheless, there is a Roman tribune, who is quite a character. In both After Whorl -Bran Reborn and in book 3, After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks (spring 2014), Gaius Livanus Valerius is a very important secondary character.

Gaius may not be originally from top-notch senatorial class, but his background is of good equestrian stock. This meant his father could purchase a commission for him to enter the ranks of the officer class in the army. Normally that might be done around the age of eighteen, but Gaius entered militay service a little earlier, his father having packed him off to non-officer ranks for a short while due to a misdemeanour which banished him from the family environs. He has learned to live with the lower ranks till old enough to be elevated to a junior clerk post.

Has that early entry to military life made any difference? Absolutely! Gaius is much more toughened by having had to work with the rank and file. My Celtic heroine, Ineda, may not call him exactly hunky but she does - eventually - consider that he is a very fit and good looking soldier. When Ineda gets to know Gaius she learns he is much older than the usual Tribune Angusticlavius. That seems odd because the Roman Army structure seems to be so regular. In her typically inquisitve way, she ferrets out enough information for her to understand why this has happened to a soldier who seems so competent. Simplified she realises that the Roman Army structure from top to bottom is this: The head of the legion was the Legatus Legionis – the Legate. Below him, at second in command, is the Tribune Laticlavius. The next tier down in the ranking are five Tribune Angusticlacivii – the men of Gaius’ rank. Those men are around 25 years of age, yet Gaius is nearing thirty winters. 

Since Gaius had reasons for prolonging his stay in Britannia, and did not wanting to return to Rome, Ineda finds he has accepted a second term of office at the rank of Tribune Angusticlavius, the reason that he is some four years older than his companion tribunes. Ineda finds out that as well as still being in charge of a large number of soldiers, Gaius has been singled out by the Roman Governor of Britannia to do some extra special duties. A very well regarded and experienced soldier is Gaius Livanus Valerius!

Gaius has already done duty in Britannia as part of a ala – a mounted regiment where he was heavily involved with the Demetae and the Ordovices. They are troublesome tribes of the area we would now call North and West Wales. ~This means Gaius has already sharpened his teeth on some warring Celts before he gets involved with the Brigantes of Garrigill, of northern England.

What did I imagine my Gaius to look like?

The man in this image is too old for my Gaius but the uniform might be somewhat similar.

If anyone remembers the deep sexy tones of rugged-faced Richard Burton, a young Richard played a Roman tribune who ends up with the robe of Jesus. Not quite the same uniform as my Gaius but replace the younger Richard Burton’s face into the uniform on the wiki image and that would be just about okay for Gaius! 

Day to day, I imagine Gaius to be wearing some sort of armour when he is stationed in the fortress at Viroconium Cornoviorum (Wroxeter/Shropshire/England) though I don’t expect it would always have to be a full copper breastplate – perhaps more of a lighter weight simpler-styled cuirass, and just enough for everyone to note his rank as he goes about his business. Acknowledging ones rank in the Roman encampment would have been every bit as important as it is in any modern army.  However, I certainly expect him to be wearing full armour when he is visiting the newly built small forts in Brigantia and at all times when out of the fort.

In full armour I see him wearing the type of chest plate ‘muscled’ cuirass with the six-pack on show (or maybe even 8 pack). This would be worn over a cloth, leather or padded vest under which would be a light wool tunic. Showing below the bottom edge of the cuirass, would have been a series of one or more rows of long tongue- shaped leather straps called lappets (pteruges) which were formed into a skirt, probably to protect the groin area. The red cloak (paludamentum) pinned on the right shoulder with a fibula clasp pin had a ceremonial function as well a practical one. When the legion was ready to launch into war the paludamentum was worn as a signal of being ready to act. It’s my personal opinion, but I think that in hostile territory it would have been worn as a signal of being prepared for battle if combat was likely, or even a possibility. It’s thought the colour of the cloak that was worn by tribunes was red and the long rectangular piece of material could be wrapped around the lower arm to give extra protection.

My Gaius would have worn his plumed engraved helmet to declare his rank, but also because in hostile territory in Britannia attack could happen at any time outside the Roman barracks.
Why conquer Britannia?

During the Flavian period, the military concept of conquering the then known world –Britannia being the westernmost large land mass – is easy to believe. I can see the attraction for the Roman Emperor in literally putting his foot on every part of Britannia’s soil, to the very last bastion to be conquered. Keeping the warring Celtic tribes at peace with each other was another very good reason, but how could that add to the Roman hoard? 

Apart from the merely military and political clout of that conquering, there had to be some other reason for subduing the local Celtic peoples and claiming their land. Was it resources – natural and man made that Rome sought to acquire? What would the Roman Empire expect to glean from newly conquered terrain?

Natural and man made resources? They became an important focus in After Whorl-Bran Reborn, and are even more important in the third book in my series After Whorl-Donning Double Cloaks.

The current southern counties of England were highly prized by The Roman Empire for their substantial grain production, and supplies shipped to mainland Europe  helped to feed the troops of Rome in areas where local grain produce was limited. There was a lot of calculated sense in acquiring fruitful, fertile land but what of the other less hospitable areas of the island of Britannia? What can be produced in southern England is not necessarily replicated in the hilly lands of northern Brigantia (present day Cumbria and Northumberland), and in parts of modern day Scotland. So if grain production in the northern climes wasn’t going to be a good addition to the coffers of the Roman Empire – what was?

The northern Celts were sheep farmers, among other things, whose main breed was probably similar to the Soay Sheep still farmed on some Scottish islands, and Welsh hillsides. Would wool production be lucrative enough to make the Emperor Vespasian subdue the tribes of the north, gleaning profits to add to the Roman coffers? Perhaps, to a limited extent, but there had to be other profitable resources.

Major sea trading wasn't established between Britannia and mainland Europe till after AD 71-84.  Did that mean that most of the resources purloined by the Roman Empire in the AD 70s and  AD 80s were consumed by the Roman Army stationed on Britannia’s soil? Seasonal crops and farmed livestock were perishable so that seemed an economically sound notion.

What other commodities did the Roman Army in Britannia need? What about leather for their tents, liquid flasks and storage pouches? Leather armour and strapping for both men and beasts might have been shipped across from the Iberian Peninsula, modern day Spain and Portugal being excellent sources. Some leather would likely have been appropriated from the Brigantes.

Metals? The Roman Army used a lot of metal in and around their soldiers:  metal worn by the legionary or auxiliary soldier, and the weapons carried and fought with. That had to amount to a lot of steel and other metal alloys which are very heavy to transport. In the building of their forts and fortresses, there was a large quantity of metal needed for the connecting nails. In more developed forts, they would have needed lead supplies for their advanced plumbing systems. Where would those metal goods have been sourced? Britannia did have sufficient of these, making it a worthwhile process in subduing the locals.

Roman fort building, leather and wool feature quite a lot in After Whorl-Bran Reborn. Fort building and the movement of metal in northern Britannia features a lot more in book number three After Whorl-Donning Double Cloaks where the action moves north from Brigantia into the Celtic tribes who occupied present day Scotland. Trade is an important part of the plots, but the political and strategic acquisition of the supplies has equal prominence. Local tribal resistance to the domination of Rome during that time has not been forgotten either, and remains a core part of the fervour in my novels.   
In my writing I'm attempting to write about more than just the physical battles that went on between the local Celtic population of northern Britannia and the Roman Empire – though, I will give sufficient advance notice to say that I was overjoyed to take the action in my third novel all the way north to the Battle of Mons Graupius which I have set in my own home area of Aberdeenshire.

Etain ... or Epona by another name

It seems odd, to me, to write my Celtic Fervour novels without a mention of some of the gods and goddesses that my characters might favour and worship. In The Beltane Choice, Nara appeals to her goddess Rhianna quite a few times; and Taranis is called upon by Lorcan to intercede in the trying circumstances he finds himself in. That first novel of the series is written predominantly from a Celtic perspective, the protagonists from the Selgovae and Brigante tribes, so it naturally follows that Celtic gods and goddesses are featured.

In After Whorl- Bran Reborn, the second novel of the series, my main characters are two Celtic Brigantes and one Roman tribune. Having a Roman as a main character has allowed me to focus on Gaius Livanus Valerius’ favoured goddess – Etain. Now, for anyone familiar with god and goddesses of Celtic and Roman religions, that might make some hairs stir since Etain Echraidhe is generally thought to be a Celtic, rather than a Roman, deity. Why did he not worship a Roman goddess like Diana the huntress? Alternatively, why was my Roman tribune not favouring the goddess Epona who admittedly had Gaulish Celtic origins, yet also found many Roman supporters?  

The Celtic horse goddess, Epona, is immortalised in stone as well as metal. She is sometimes shown riding side-saddle accompanied by a pair of fine mares. In other images, she’s accompanied by a mare and a foal and is revered as a fertility goddess. In other images, she tends to only one horse. However, in addition to being worshipped as a fertility goddess, Epona was also given the reputation of being a protector to all who had dealings with horses: those who rode them, and those who groomed or bred them.

I remember reading a story a long time ago about Celtic horse-handlers who only caught and removed young foals from the forests, to tame them, this practice allowing the adult horses to continue to breed. It seems natural to find out that those who trained those young colts and fillies were devotees of Epona, and gained protection from her. I’m no horse person myself, as I believe you are, but I know that the breaking in of a foal demands much patience, the young animal needing constant reassurance from the handlers. Getting used to the bridle and reins, and bearing a rider takes great expertise from any horse-handler and as such Celtic horsemen and horsewomen had a good position in the hierarchy of the tribe. A horse shying away, panicking, or not responding to commands while pulling a chariot, or bearing a warrior during a battle would have been of little use to any Celt. Therefore, being a horse handler was a very good job since the horse stock was a very important part of a tribe’s wealth. Worshipping Epona because you worked with horses must have had a lot of kudos, I think, in Celtic society.

Epona appeared to ensure such success among Celtic warriors that when the Roman Army infiltrated Celtic Europe many of the Roman soldiers took on the Gaulish Epona as their own goddess. Epona then became the revered goddess of many of the alae units – that is of the mounted Roman cavalry.
wikimedia commons

In After Whorl- Bran Reborn, my Roman Tribune Angusticlavius - Gaius Livanus Valerius - comes from an elevated equestrian background, and has spent time as a junior officer of a mounted ala in Roman Britain. He’s had plenty of time to come to know the customs of Britannia; he’s learned more of the language of the Celts and has adopted some of their worship.

In particular, he worships Etain – an alternative name for Epona in some Celtic areas of Britannia.

Exactly when Gaius made the transfer from Epona to Etain is not divulged, neither in book two, nor in book three After Whorl-Donning Double Cloaks (due sometime around Spring 2014), but it most likely happened when he was stationed with an ala in the area we now call north Wales, with the Legio XX.

Ineda, my main Celtic female character in After Whorl- Bran Reborn, learns exactly how important worshipping Etain is to Gaius.

I love researching gods and goddesses of ancient civilisations and hope this little taster has brought you something new today. 

 Quintus Petilius Cerialis Caesius Rufus
Some names are mentioned in my Celtic Fervour series of novels that are a crucial part of the action and yet as characters they never appear at all, or are only mentioned in a limited role. My friend 'Petty’ is one of those names. 
Cerialis-Wikimedia Commons
In the The Beltane Choice and After Whorl: Bran Reborn - the Roman governor of Britannia plays a ‘behind the scenes’ role. If it were not for the policies of Quintus Petilius Cerialis Caesius Rufus my Brigantes, and the other tribes of the north, would be peaceably farming their lands and only indulging in little bouts of warfare with their neighbours. Governor Cerialis (the name he’s usually referred by), however, is under orders from the Roman Emperor Vespasian. When a campaign of military advance creeps northwards towards mid- Brigantia, my characters are involved in what I've called the Battle of Whorl in The Beltane Choice. 'Petty's’troops triumph at Whorl, though the personal fortunes of the Governor were not always so rosy, since the career of Cerialis had many ups and downs. Another notable name – Gnaeus Julius Agricola - also plays a backstage role in my novels. 
Agricola-Wikimedia Commons
Book 2 of my Celtic Fervour series begins with the battle at Whorl. At this point 'Petty’ is still the Roman Governor of Britannia and his orders still prevail. ‘Petty’ was the Governor of Britannia from approximately A.D.70 to A.D.73/74. Books 1& 2 are during this time period. ‘Petty’ was then probably around the age of 40, this approximation based on the fact that a Roman had to have served in a number of roles before earning such a high status job as Governor of a province. What had 'Petty' done to earn such a prestigious job back in AD70?
Before becoming a provincial Governor a man tended to have served as commander of a legion - a legate. Before becoming a legate it was generally necessary to have served first as a praetor. A praetor was sometimes someone who had practical experience as a ‘commander in the field’, during times of heavy campaigns. Or, a praetor may have been elevated to the role of a public administrator over a large province, though the number of these operating across the Roman Empire varied according to who was emperor. To achieve the position of praetor there was a minimum age of thirty. In the absence of actual documented dating, for the life of someone like Cerialis, the position a man achieved in serving the Roman Empire stands as a good indicator of his minimum age.
Before becoming the Governor of Britannia‘Petty’ had been legate of the Legio IX Hispania, stationed in southern Britain, in AD 60. He therefore had a lot of knowledge of the machinations of the tribes of Britannia. The retreat, and subsequent humiliation, his forces had to make during the uprisings of Queen Boudicca of the Iceni got him no public honour, and he departed for the European mainland when his term of office was over.  However, it seems that he conducted himself well enough in AD 69, with the Legio XIV Roman troops in Germany, sufficient to have the Emperor Vespasian confer the role of Governor of Britannia on him in AD 70. Military honours got you a better job like a Governor but the writings available for the time indicate that Cerialis became a very good General and became a sound military tactitian.
‘Petty’returned to Britannia. One of his first tasks was to suppress the insurgence of Venutius, the former husband of Queen Cartimandua, a Queen of the Brigantes federation of tribes. This part of history has become the particular focus of The Beltane Choice and of After Whorl: Bran Reborn.
‘Petty’ is documented as …“having at once struck terror into their hearts by invading the commonwealth of the Brigantes, which is said to be the most numerous tribe of the whole province: many battles were fought, sometimes bloody battles, and by permanent conquest or by forays he annexed a large portion of the Brigantes.” (Tacitus)
‘Petty’ mainly settled during AD 70 -74 at the garrison at Eboracum (York), which it’s thought he constructed, or that he made improvements to an earlier Roman fort on the site. ‘Petty’ also constructed other encampments in the north of England which evolved into forts that, in some way, have survived to the present day. Dendrochronological evidence is now pointing to Cerialis having established a lot more forts and fortlets in present day Scotland but just how far north he marched with his troops is hard to be sure of.
The plot for After Whorl: Bran Reborn includes the building of some of these Roman forts.

Emperor Septimius Severus -Wikimedia Commons


  1. Verily interesting material that you have here, thank your for posting!


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