Thousands lined the streets as the emperor Hadrian arrived in Londinium. He was accompanied by Platorius Nepos, an old friend appointed to be the next governor of Britannia.
Hadrian later announced plans for a new fort and major changes to the way the army will operate in Britannia.
Our military correspondent, Veldedeius, himself an ex-soldier, looks at how this will affect Londinium.
In splendid isolation
‘When I first came here 20 years ago, as a governor’s groom, there were no proper barracks. The governor and his family had a house in town, the staff officers had rooms in one wing and I worked in the stables. All quite informal.
Now all soldiers are to be billeted together, in the new fort. It’s a standard type, one I know well from my days in the north, at Vindolanda - rectangular, with gates and watch towers with a headquarters building, storehouses and long rows of barracks. The site chosen is a green-field site near the amphitheatre, useful for parades.’
A soldier’s life is hard
‘In his speech to the governor’s staff, the emperor made it plain that there’s to be no more easy living. No more overstocked mess-rooms with couches or pretentious additions to uniform.
But there will be money for new weapons and equipment. And men will not be expected to stay beyond retirement age. Professionalism is the new watch-word. Putting the soldiers in proper barracks, away from central Londinium, is all part of that plan – less fraternisation that way.’
‘The thing that strikes me about this fort is its size. I mostly served in regiments of around 500 men, and our forts in the north were only half as big.
It looks as though legionaries serving the governor will be joined by a full regiment of infantry and cavalry – perhaps even Navy detachments.’
The grand strategy
‘The emperor left his most important announcement for the end of his speech. Forget about conquering Caledonia. We are to build a great wall in the north, to keep the barbarians out.
'Everyone noticed the new governor’s unease. Though tasked with building this wall, he allegedly has had disagreements with Hadrian about it.
'If the wall does its job, we may find supplies going straight there, by-passing Londinium. But in the meantime, the new fort only strengthens the town’s position as the de facto capital of Britannia.’