LEGIO SECVNDA AVGVSTA
Roman Living History Society
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It is thought that the original Legio Secunda Augusta (LEG II AVG) was a re-organisation / re-naming by Octavian (the future Emperor Augustus) and Consul Gaius Vibius Pansa in 43BC of the II Gallica previously known as the II Sabina. Probably originally stationed in Hispania Terraconensis LEG II AVG was later moved further North after 9AD to Strasbourg. The legion was involved in squashing an uprising in Gaul AD 21 and there are records of veterans from LEG II AVG settling on land at Arausio (Orange, Vaucluse, France). It is from the triumphal arch at Orange that we take our shield design. Prior to the invasion of Britannia, LEG II AVG was known to have been stationed on the Rhine frontier.
LEG II AVG was one of the four legions used to invade Britannia in 43AD during the reign of the Emperor Claudius. Under its commander the future Emperor Vespasian, LEG II AVG took the southern part of the country. It conquered two tribes, probably the Durotriges and the Atrebates, fought thirty battles, most likely responsible for the taking of many hill forts (including the formidable Maiden Castle) and also invaded the Isle of Wight. After a brief time as a patrolling unit it became stationed in modern Exeter and then later in Gloucester. LEG II AVG did not take part in quelling the Boudica revolt 60/61AD. Poenius Postumus the Praefectus Castrorum of LEG II AVG was ordered by Suetonius Paulinus to commit the legion to the action but for some unrecorded reason failed to do so. Subsequently Poenius Postumus is recorded as having committed suicide. Sometime around 74 – 78AD the Legion moved once again to commence its long term occupation of the legionary fortress at Caerleon in South Wales. LEG II AVG did not confine itself to Wales and the South as Cohorts I, II, III, VI, VII, VIII and X are all recorded as being involved in the building of Hadrian’s Wall. During the reign of the Emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161AD) the frontier was extended north and work was begun on the Antonine Wall with the assistance of LEG II AVG. The Legion found itself facing heavy action during the three years of widespread revolution in Northern Britain during mid 150AD. There is evidence to suggest that the Legion was so busy in the North that it was nearly re-located to that region. Sources show that the Legion saw action in not only in Britannia but also Germanica and Gaul to counter uprisings.
The Legion was known to be at Caerleon in 253-259 when the barracks of the seventh cohort were rebuilt and their legate T. Flavius Postumius Varus restored a temple to the Goddess Diana. In the fourth century it would appear that LEG II AVG were at Richborough in Kent commanded by the Count of the Saxon Shore and may have become the unit known as Secunda Britannica.
We base our interpretations on the equipment, lifestyles and technology during the first two centuries of the LEG II AVG occupation of Britannia.