Summary and Info
This book provides a clear and interesting account of the Roman conquest of what's now northern England and southern Scotland and Agricola's expedition further into Scotland. While I'm not familiar with the debate around the accuracy of Tacitus' account, on which the book is (unavoidably) heavily based, Duncan Campbell appears to have assessed it critically and provides a logical narrative of the campaign.
While many Osprey books struggle to fit into the standard structures which are dictated for the various series, the campaign series structure works well for this book. It opens with a good account of the background to the campaign and moves onto short chapters covering the opposing forces and commanders before moving into the coverage of the Roman operations. This is split into two chapters, with the first covering the Roman campaigns in Britain from AD 77 to AD 82 and the second covering the Battle of Mons Graupius. The book then concludes with a further two short chapters which discuss the events following the battle and what Campbell argues is the generally accepted location for where it took place. The length of each chapter felt about right, particularly given the limited sources, and the narrative is well illustrated with appropriate maps and other images.
Overall, Campbell presents a convincing account of Roman warfare in northern Britain and the factors which contributed to their success. It's unfortunate that greater detail isn't provided on the Caledonians, but the coverage is reasonable given the few reliable sources of infomation on the topic. My only substantive complaint about the book is that the photos of Roman reenactors are rather unconvincing as many of them appear to be older than Roman soldiers would have been and the group appears to include a woman dressed as a Roman soldier; surely more authentic images could have been used. Given that the location of the battle remains disputed it would also have been helpful if Campbell had identified the other plausible locations.
All up, this is a useful account of the Roman campaigns in Britain between AD 77 and 83 and serves as a good introduction to the topic.
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