Septimius Severus in Scotland

The Northern Campaigns of the First Hammer of the Scots

Simon Elliott

Date Published :
April 2018
Publisher :
Greenhill Books
Illustration :
50 images
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding : Paperback
ISBN : 9781784385804

Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stockPages : 208
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Since 1975 much new archaeological evidence has come to light to illuminate the immense undertaking of Septimius Severus’ campaigns in Scotland, allowing for the first time the true story of this savage invasion to be told. In the early 3rd century Severus, the aging Roman emperor, launched an immense ‘shock and awe’ assault on Scotland that was so savage it resulted in eighty years of peace at Rome’s most troublesome border. The book shows how his force of 50,000 troops, supported by the fleet, hacked their way through the Maeatae around the former Antonine Wall and then pressed on into Caledonian territory up to the Moray Firth.

Severus was the first of the great reforming emperors of the Roman military, and his reforms are explained in the context of how he concentrated power around the imperial throne. There is also an in-depth look at the political, economic and social developments that occurred in the Province.

This book is aimed at all who have an interest in both military and Roman history. It will particularly appeal to those who are keen to learn more about the narrative of Rome’s military presence in Britain, and especially the great campaigns of which Severus’ assault on Scotland is the best example.

About The Author

Simon Elliott is an archaeologist, historian and leading aerospace journalist, and former editor at both Jane’s Defence Weekly and Flight International. He has just completed his PhD in Archaeology at Kent University and has an MA in Archaeology from UCL and an MA in War Studies from KCL.His research has been published in History Today, RUSI Journal, Military History Monthly and British Archaeology, and he is the author of Sea Eagles to Empire: The Classis Britannica and the Battles for Britain (shortlisted for the Military History Monthly Book of the Year Award). Simon lectures widely to local history societies and archaeological groups. He is co-Director of the Roman villa excavation at Teston and is a council member of the Council for British Archaeology’s South East region.


‘Dr Simon Elliott's analysis of the Severan campaigns of AD 209 and AD 210 demonstrates both the strengths and, ultimately, the limits of Roman Imperial warfare. Despite assembling a large army of professional troops, supported by powerful regional naval forces, which provided logistics, amphibious mobility and firepower, the Romans could not conquer Scotland. The costs outweighed the benefits. Naval power was critical to overcoming the transport and supply problems of an underdeveloped country without good roads. The same problems hampered any invasion of Scotland, they ensured later English invasions also relied on sea power.’

- Professor Andrew Lambert, Laughton Professor of Naval History, War Studies Department, Kings College London.

"In this book Simon Elliott tells the story of one of the great campaigns of the ancient world, setting in place all the military and political developments which led to this ‘shock and awe’ expedition, the Severan expeditio felicissima Brittannica. It was a strikingly brutal campaign, one of the darkest points in the military history of these islands. Ultimately however, although Severus secured peace in the far north of Britain for four generations, the Highlands remained free throughout the remaining Roman occupation of Britain.The author uses not only the often inadequate and scrappy literary sources but also coins and inscriptions, as well as new archaeological research, and discusses the keysites north of the modern Anglo-Scottish border."

- Anthony Richard Birley, former Professor of Ancient History at Manchester and Düsseldorf Universities

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