Gnaeus Julius Agricola (AD77/8-83/4)

We are extremely fortunate in the case of this man in that his son-in-law was none other than Gaius Cornelius Tacitus, the prolific Roman writer and historian, who recorded in The Agricola the biography of this great man, which remains the only surviving biography of a Roman general outside of the imperial families. This document records the campaigns not only of Agricola himself, but of all the men who preceded him in the post of pro-praetorian governor of Britain, albeit in an abbreviated form.

The Campaigns of Governor Julius Agricola in Britain

The conquests of this general were to see the Roman province of Britannia at its greatest extent; his seven campaign seasons in Britain can be summarized as follows:

  1. 77AD – Conquered the Ordovices tribe in North Wales and Anglesey.
  2. 78AD – Advanced the Twentieth up from Gloucester by the western route, and the Ninth from York, conquering the Brigantes in northern England.
  3. 79AD – Marched into Scotland by eastern route, advancing as far as the Tay.
  4. 80AD – Consolidated the Forth – Clyde line, establishing many forts.
  5. 81AD – Advanced along the western coast from the Solway Firth around the Galloway Penninsula and into Ayrshire.
  6. 82AD – Advanced north-east, using a coastal supply-route into Tayside.
  7. 83AD – Advanced along east coast to Moray Firth, defeating the Caledonian warlord Calgacus in a decisive encounter at ‘Mons Graupius’, somewhere in the Grampian highlands.

References for Roman Military Campaigns Gnaeus Julius Agricola ( AD77/8-83/4)

  • The Northern Frontiers of Roman Britain by David J. Breeze;
  • Britons and the Roman Army by Dr. Grace Simpson;
  • Ordnance Survey Map and Guide – Roman Britain by the blessed OSGB;
  • The Fifth Year of Agricola’s Campaigns by Nicholas Reed in Britannia II (1971; pp.143-148);