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Quintus Lollius Urbicus

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Governor of Britannia from AD138/9 to c.144

"He [Antoninus Pius] conquered the Britons through his legate Lollius Urbicus, another wall, of turf, being set up when the barbarians had been driven back, ..."
Julius Capitolinus Augustan History Antoninus Pius V.4

Urbicus was a native of Numidia (modern Algeria), and former governor of Lower Germany, who was sent to Britain as one of the first commissions of the emperor Antoninus Pius soon after he came to power in July AD138. He evidently campaigned against several British tribes (possibly including factions of the northern Brigantes), certainly against the the lowland tribes of Scotland; the Votadini and the Selgovae of the Scottish Borders region, also the the Damnonii of Strathclyde and the Novantae of Dumfries and Galloway. It seems likely that he personally campaigned with the Second Legion Augusta as this unit is mentioned on four (out of five) inscriptions recording building work undertaken during his governorship. This legionary core was, no doubt, backed up by a substantial contingent of auxiliary units, of which we have record of at least one part-mounted regiment (vide RIB 1276 infra). Contingents from at least one other British legion are known to have assisted in the construction of the new turf barrier, as evidenced by an inscription from the fort at Old Kilpatrick (RIB 2205), the Antonine Wall's western terminus.

It seems likely that Urbicus planned his campaign of attack from Corbridge in Northumberland, just to the rear of Hadrians Wall, as dedicatory inscriptions positively dated to the early 140's have been uncovered at the Antonine storage-depot there. From here he drove north-north-west into the Scottish Borders along the Agricolan military road Dere Street, leaving garrison forts at High Rochester in Northumberland and possibly also at Newstead in Borders, as he struck towards the Firth of Forth. Both of these sites, likewise similar such military installations at Risingham, Chew Green, Cappuck and Elginhaugh were very likely used as bases from which to launch strikes against the lowland tribes, the Votadini to the east and the Selgovae to the west.

Having secured an overland supply route for military personnel and equipment along Dere Street, Urbicus very likely set up a supply port at Carriden for the supply of grain and other foodstuffs before proceeding against the Dumnonii tribe who inhabited South Strathclyde. This done, came the task of completing a new barrier of turf and timber stretching for thirty-five miles from east to west across the narrow neck of land separating the mighty Rivers Forth and Clyde, nowadays known as the Antonine Wall.

It was possibly after the defences were finished that Urbicus turned his attention upon the last lowland Scottish tribe, the Novantae who inhabited the Dumfries and Galloway peninsula. These four lowland tribes, sandwiched as they were between Hadrian's Wall of stone to the south and the new turf wall of Antoninus to the north, later formed a confederation against Roman opression collectively known as the Maeatae.

Lollius Urbicus - Epigraphic Evidence

RIB 1147/1148 Corbridge, Northumberland
RIB 1276 High Rochester, Northumberland
RIB 2191/2192 Balmuildy, Strathclyde

Corbridge, Northumberland RIB 1147 (dated: AD139) IMP T AELIO ANIONINO AVG PIO II COS SVB CVRA Q LOLII VRBICI LEG AVG PR PR LEG II AVG F "For the emperor Titus Aelius Antoninus Augustus Pius, Consul for the second time, under the command of Quintus Lollius Urbicus, legate of the Augustus with pro-praetorian power, the Second Legion Augusta built this".

Also RIB 1148 (dated: AD140) IMP CAES T AELIO ANTONINO AVG PIO III COS P P SVB CVRA Q LOLLI VRBICI LEG AVG PR PR LEG II AVG FECIT "For Imperator Caesar Titus Aelius Antoninus Augustus Pius, three times consul, Father of the Fatherland, under the care of Quintus Lollius Urbicus the pro-praetorian legate of the emperor, the Second Augustan Legion made this".

High Rochester, Northumberland RIB 1276 (dated: AD139-43) IMP CAES T AELIO HAD ANTONINO AVG PIO P P SVB Q LOL VRBICO LEG AVG PRO PR COH I LING EQ F For the Emperor Caesar Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius, Father of his Country, under Quintus Lollius Urbicus, his pro-praetorian legate, the First Cohort of Lingones, part-mounted, made this.

Balmuildy, Strathclyde RIB 2191 (dated: AD139-43) IMP C T AEL HADR ANTONINO AVG PIO P P LEG II AVG SVB Q LOLLIO VRBICO LEG AVG PR PR FEC "For Imperator Caesar Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius, Father of the Fatherland, the Second Augustan Legion under Quintus Lollius Urbicus, legate of the Augustus with pro-praetorian power, made this".

Also RIB 2192 (dated: AD139-43) IMP C T AEL HADR ANTO NINO AVG PIO P P LEG II AVG FEC SVB Q LOLLIO VRBICO LEG AVG PR PR "For Imperator Caesar Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius, Father of the Fatherland, the Second Augustan Legion made this under Quintus Lollius Urbicus, legate of the Augustus with pro-praetorian power".

The Public Career of Quintus Lollius Urbicus

Dedicatory Inscription from Tiddis in Algeria

Q LOLLIO M FIL QVIR VRBICO COS LEG AVG PROVINC GERM INFERIORIS FETIALI LEGATO IMP HADRIANI IN EXPEDITION IVDAICA QVA DONATVS EST HASTA PVRA CORONA AVREA LEG LEG X GEMINAE PRAET CANDIDAT CAES TRIB PLEB CANDIDAT CAES LEG PROCOS ASIAE QVAEST VRBIS TRIB LATICLAVIO LEG XXII PRIMIGENIAE III VIRO VIARVM CVRAND PATRONO D D P P
"For Quintus Lollius Urbicus, Consular, Legate of the imperial province of Lower Germany, (Priest) of the Fetiales,¹ Legate of the Emperor Hadrian in the expedition to Judaea, where he received the Silver Spear and the Gold Crown, Legate of the Tenth Legion Gemina, Praetor as a candidate of Caesar, Tribune of the People as a candidate of Caesar, Legate of the Proconsul for Asia, Urban Quaestor, (Military) Tribune with the 'wide stripe' in the Twenty-second 'Firstborn' Legion,² (a member of the board of) three men responsible for the roads (of Rome), Patron (of this town). Set-up by decree of the Parish Council.³"
(Burn 116; statue base)
  1. The fetiales were a Roman priestly college who represented the people of Rome in their dealings with foreign nations.
  2. The tribunus laticlavius was a military officer of senatorial class assigned to duties in the legions of Rome as part of his public career. There was one senatorial and five equestrian tribunes in each legion; the tribunes of the class of knights wore the thin stripe of the equestrian order and were thus termed tribuni angusticlavii.
  3. Based on the expansion D[ecreto] D[ecurionum] P[agus] P[osuit]; (see Burn p.94).

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