Sextus Julius Frontinus (73/4–77/8AD)

The tenure of Sextus Julius Frontinus as governor is documented in a single classical source, by Cornelius Tacitus in The Agricola, Chapter 17.

Cerialis, indeed, would have eclipsed the vigilance or the credit of any other successor; but Julius Frontinus was, so far as a subject of the emperor could be, a great man, and he shouldered and sustained the burden cast on him: his arms reduced the Silures, a powerful and warlike race; he surmounted not only the valour of the enemy but also the physical difficulties of their land.

The Agricola, Chapter 17

Following the end of Cerialis’ three-year term, Julius Frontinus assumed the role of governor, bringing a progressive approach to the position. Distinguished not only as a military leader but also as an author on military and engineering topics, Frontinus initiated the construction of more forts in Exeter, Gloucester, and Caerleon, where the II Augusta legion was stationed. The strategic importance of Caerleon was significant, providing access to the Bristol Channel, South Wales, and England’s lower West Country. He is also credited with developments in Verulamium and Cirencester, possibly including their forums. Frontinus focused on the Romanization of Wales, particularly the Silures, relocating their center from Lanmelin Wood to the newly established town of Caerwent. He further integrated the Silures by establishing the respublica civitatis Silunum, adopting a policy of assimilation rather than the eradication tactics of Ostorius Scapula.

Tacitus, the prominent historian of the era and son-in-law to Julius Agricola, provides much of the historical record from this period. However, his relationship with Agricola may have influenced his accounts, potentially introducing a personal bias. As a result, the precise duration of Frontinus’ tenure, whether until 77 or 78 AD, remains uncertain. It is known, though, that his successor was appointed without conflict.

Installations Attributed to Sextus Julius Frontinus

Isca Silurum (Caerleon, Gwent)ST3390legionary fortress Legio II Augusta.
Deva (Chester)SJ4066fort
Levobrinta (Forden Gaer, Powys)SO2098fort
Mediomanum (Caersws, Powys)SO0292fort
Cicucium (Brecon Gaer, Y-Gaer, Powys)SO0029fort
Coelbren, West GlamorganSN8510fort
Castell Collen, PowysSO0562fort
Blaen-cwm-Bach, West GlamorganSS7997large camp 3 miles E of Neath
Twyn-y-Briddallt, Mid GlamorganST0098large camp 9½ miles W of Gelli-gaer
Pen-y-Coedcae, Mid GlamorganST0687large camp 6½ miles W of Caerphilly

References for Roman Military Campaigns – Sextus Julius Frontinus ( AD73/4-77/8)

  • The Roman Invasion of Britain by Graham Webster (Batsford, London, 1980);
  • 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);