Gnaeus Julius Verus – Governor of Britannia by 158 AD
The military campaigns of this governor, according to epigraphic evidence recorded in the RIB, took him from Derbyshire in the English Midlands to the Scottish lowlands north of the Solway Firth. It seems that his administration was one of consolidation rather than expansion, and it is possible that the civitas of the Carvetii tribe first came into being in north-west England during the governorship of Verus.
Antoninus never willingly involved the Romans in war … he also deprived the Brigantes of the greater part of their territory in Britain …
Pausanias Description of Greece VIII.xliii.3/4 (writing of the mid-second century)
It would appear from a comment by the Greek geographer Pausanias writing in the late second century, that the Brigantes tribe of northern England first came under military rule during the governorship of Julius Verus, undoubtedly in response to the repeated uprisings within their tribal territories in the recent past.
The victory of Julius Verus in his “Northern War” against the Brigantes was comemmorated in special issues of Roman bronze coinage (Spink 645, RIC 930 et.seq.), many examples of which have been recovered from within the British Isles, indeed, some of the lower-denomination coins were possibly minted here in Britain.
There also seems to have been a general re-fortification of the Hadrianic frontier at this time, and the vallum recommissioned, and the ditch restored at many places along its length where it had earlier been filled. It is interesting to note that the two mounds to north and south of the vallum ditch were not repaired, which seems to indicate that the Romans considered the ditch to be the most important part of this earthwork.
Julius Verus – Epigraphic Evidence
- RIB 283 Brough-on-Noe, Derbyshire
- RIB 1132 Corbridge, Northumberland
- RIB 1322 Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne & Wear
- RIB 2110 Birrens, Dumfries & Galloway
Brough-on-Noe, Derbyshire RIB 283 (dated: c.158AD) IMP CAESARI T AEL HADR ANTONINO AVG PIO P P COH I AQVITANORVM SVB IVLIO VERO LEG AVG PR PR INSTANTE CAPITONIO PRISCO PRAE “For Imperator Caesar Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius, Father of the Fatherland, Cohors I Aquitanorum, under Julius Verus, legate of the emperor with pro-praetorian power, deputed to Capitonius Priscus, commander”.
Corbridge, Northumberland RIB 1132 (dated: c.158AD) … VEXILLATIO LEG VI VIC P F SVB CN IVL VERO LEG AVG PER L O… TRIB MILITVM “[…] a detachment of the Sixth Victorious Legion, Loyal and Faithful, under Gnaeus Julius Verus, legate of the emperor through the agency of Lucius O[…] military tribune […]”.
Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne & Wear RIB 1322 (dated: 155-9AD) IMP ANTONINO AVG PIO P PAT VEXILATIO LEG II AVG ET LEG VI VIC ET LEG XX VV CONRBVTI EX GER DVOBVS SVB IVLIO VERO LEG AVG PR P “For Imperator Antoninus Augustus Pious, Father of his Country, detachments (i.e. replacement troops) for the Second Augustan Legion, the Sixth Victorious Legion and the Twentieth Legion Valiant and Victorious contributed from the two German provinces (built this), under Julius Verus, Legate of the Augustus with pro-praetorian power”. It is thought that Verus was governor of Lower Germany immediately prior to becoming governor of Britain, and it is very likely that he accompanied these troops into his new province.
Birrens, Dumfries & Galloway RIB 2110 (dated: 157-8) IMP CAES T AEL HADR ANTONINO AVG PIO PONT MAX TRIB POT XXI COS IIII COH II TVNGR MIL EQ C L SVB IVLIO VERO LEG AVG PR PR “For the Emperor Caesar Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius, High Priest of Rome, in the twenty-first year of his holding tribunician power, four times Consul, the Second Cohort of Tungrians, one-thousand strong, part-mounted, citizens with Latin rights, [set this up] under Julius Verus, pro-Praetorian Legate of Augustus”.