Roman Military Campaigns – Publius Ostorius Scapula ( AD47 -52)

The exploits of this Roman general are documented in a large section of Cornelius Tacitus’ Annals of Rome (book XII, chapter xxxi.1), there is also a short passage regarding his governorship in Tacitus’ Agricola (chapter 14, verse 1). The campaigns, strategies and archaeological evidence attributed to this governor is covered in chapters 1 through 4 of Rome Against Caratacus by Graham Webster (Batsford, London, 1981).

The Career of Publius Ostorius Scapula

The first season of this governor’s tenure in office was probably spent on campaign with Legio XIV Gemina who were advanced westwards along the line of Watling Street, leaving vexillation-sized camps at Mancetter in Warwickshire and Leighton near Wroxeter in Shropshire, probably also at Wall and Eaton House (Water Eaton) in Staffordshire and at Drayton Lodge in Shropshire, where there are auxiliary forts dating to this period. All of these encampments were obviously directed at the Cornovii tribe who occupied Shropshire and the Cheshire plain. Another line of forts heading westwards through Metchley in Birmingham and Greensforge in Staffordshire indicate that the Fourteenth was probably used in a ‘pincer’ movement with the focus on the prominent hillfort which crowned the Wrekin, as is the auxiliary fort at Wroxeter which safeguarded the strategic bridge over the Severn. The Scapulan fortress at Rhyn Park close to the Shropshire/Clwyd border and overshadowed by the Berwyn Mountains of North Wales, may be associated with the campaign against the Cornovii, but it is equally likely that this represents an attempt to contain the British warlord Caratacus- Prince of the Catuvellauni.

References for Roman Military Campaigns – Publius Ostorius Scapula ( AD47-52)

  • Rome Against Caratacus by Graham Webster (Batsford, London, 1981);
  • Britons and the Roman Army by Grace Simpson (Gregg, London, 1964);
  • Historical Map and Guide: Roman Britain by the OS (3rd Edition, 1956; 4th Ed., 1990; 5th Ed., 2001);