10 books like Life and Letters from the Roman Frontier

By Alan K. Bowman,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Life and Letters from the Roman Frontier. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

The Eagle of the Ninth

By Rosemary Sutcliffe,

Book cover of The Eagle of the Ninth

This was the book that made me want to write historical fiction. I cared so desperately about the characters that I wanted to be there with them, wishing I could do something to help; they are still very clear in my mind. We were living near the USAF Academy at the time, and I convinced my mother to drive me out to their library where I pored over and made copious notes on Roman military history so that I could write my own story about the missing Ninth Legion. (I still have the notes!) 

The Eagle of the Ninth

By Rosemary Sutcliffe,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Eagle of the Ninth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Everyman edition reprints the classic black and white illustrations of C. Walter Hodges which accompanied the first edition in 1954.

Around the year 117 AD, the Ninth Legion, stationed at Eburacum - modern day York - marched north to suppress a rebellion of the Caledonian tribes, and was never heard of again. During the 1860s, a wingless Roman Eagle was discovered during excavations at the village of Silchester in Hampshire, puzzling archaeologists and scholars alike. Rosemary Sutcliff weaves a compelling story from these two mysteries, dispatching her hero, the young Roman officer Marcus Aquila, on a perilous journey beyond…


An Imperial Possession

By David Mattingly,

Book cover of An Imperial Possession: Britain in the Roman Empire, 54 BC - AD 409

In my opinion the definative, academic standard account of the Roman occupation of Britain. Professor Mattingly’s book is very well organised, with sections which easily engage the reader on specific aspects of the Roman presence here, for example religion, political organisation, the military, agriculture, and industry. It also explains in great detail the various impacts across Britain of the transition from the Late Iron Age to the Roman period.  

An Imperial Possession

By David Mattingly,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked An Imperial Possession as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Part of the Penguin History of Britain series, An Imperial Possession is the first major narrative history of Roman Britain for a generation. David Mattingly draws on a wealth of new findings and knowledge to cut through the myths and misunderstandings that so commonly surround our beliefs about this period. From the rebellious chiefs and druids who led native British resistance, to the experiences of the Roman military leaders in this remote, dangerous outpost of Europe, this book explores the reality of life in occupied Britain within the context of the shifting fortunes of the Roman Empire.


The Emperor's Babe

By Bernardine Evaristo,

Book cover of The Emperor's Babe

I’m embarrassed that I only read this book recently because it’s a wonderful engagement with ancient evidence to create a vision of Roman Britain. Evaristo uses the burial of the so-called Spitalfields Lady – a woman buried in a sarcophagus with scallop shell decorations and a rich range of grave goods – to create Zuleika, a lively girl who lives with her Nubian parents in Roman London; in blank verse, the story follows her life from being married off as a child bride to catching the eye of the emperor Septimius Severus. Evaristo mixes historical detail with contemporary slang and references, bringing her vision of London under a multi-cultural Roman Empire vividly to life.

The Emperor's Babe

By Bernardine Evaristo,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Emperor's Babe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

FROM THE BOOKER PRIZE-WINNING AUTHOR OF GIRL, WOMAN, OTHER

'Wildly entertaining, deeply affecting' Ali Smith

Londinium, AD 211. Zuleika is a modern girl living in an ancient world. She's a back-alley firecracker, a scruffy Nubian babe with tangled hair and bare feet - and she's just been married off a fat old Roman. Life as a teenage bride is no joke but Zeeks is a born survivor. She knows this city like the back of her hand: its slave girls and drag queens, its shining villas and rotting slums. She knows how to get by. Until one day she catches…


Under Another Sky

By Charlotte Higgins,

Book cover of Under Another Sky: Journeys in Roman Britain

A modern tour around sites of Roman Britain, and a fascinating look at the stories we later Britons have told ourselves about the Roman era over the ensuing centuries – in ways that perhaps say more about us than they do about the Romans. 

Under Another Sky

By Charlotte Higgins,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Under Another Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What does Roman Britain mean to us now? How were its physical remains rediscovered and made sense of? How has it been reimagined, in story and song and verse? Sometimes on foot, sometimes in a magnificent, if not entirely reliable, VW camper van, Charlotte Higgins sets out to explore the ancient monuments of Roman Britain. She explores the land that was once Rome’s northernmost territory and how it has changed since the years after the empire fell. Under Another Sky invites us to see the British landscape, and British history, in an entirely fresh way: as indelibly marked by how…


Roman Britain

By Stanley Ireland,

Book cover of Roman Britain: A Sourcebook

This is the place to go for the written evidence, conveniently gathered together in one slim paperback: all the way from the distant whispers of early Mediterranean travellers to fifth-century Christian writers. Letters, coins, altars, curses, graffiti and gravestones find a place here beside the scrolls of historians for whom “good writing” was not always synonymous with “sticking to the facts”. 

Roman Britain

By Stanley Ireland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Roman Britain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Roman Britain: A Sourcebook has established itself as the only comprehensive collection of source material on the subject. It incorporates literary, numismatic and epigraphic evidence for the history of Britain under Roman rule, as well as translations of major literary sources.

This new edition includes not only recently discovered material, but also the texts of Caesar's commentaries on his expeditions to Britain in 55 and 54 BC, as well as relevant sections of Tacitus' biography of his father-in-law, former governor of Britain. The inclusion of these pivotal texts, which provide the most detailed account of the Romans campaigns in Britain,…


The Skystone

By Jack Whyte,

Book cover of The Skystone

I had had this book on my shelf for a number of years when, working late at school one night, I took a break and pulled it out to look at it. After reading a few pages, I could hardly wait to get home to read the whole thing, and I don’t think I have ever read a book more quickly. I went on to devour all the novels in Whyte’s series The Camulod Chronicles because his writing is superb. This is historical fiction that grounds the King Arthur legend in the dangerous years of post-Roman Britain. The details are accurate and give realism to a well-known legend while creating characters and scenes you just want to spend time with.

The Skystone

By Jack Whyte,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Skystone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a time preceding King Arthur and Camelot, two Roman men, Publius Varrus and Caius Britannicus, Arthur's great-grandfathers, try to preserve the best of Roman life and build a new culture out of the wreckage of the old and, in doing so, create a legend, in a new edition of the first volume in the


The Crow Goddess

By Patricia Finney,

Book cover of The Crow Goddess

I picked up this book years ago at my local library by chance, if you believe in chance—which I do not. At that time, I had no idea the narrative of a historical romance could stretch back to Iron Age times, or that I could lose myself in the characters who populated the legends I love. For years, I’d been listening to Celtic music. In Patricia Finney’s wonderful story, I heard that music in the everyday world she created. I discovered how it feels to drive a chariot. Quite possibly, I revisited a past life. I will be forever grateful this book came into my hand.

The Crow Goddess

By Patricia Finney,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Crow Goddess as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Roman Woman

By Lindsay Allason-Jones,

Book cover of Roman Woman: Everyday Life in Hadrian's Britain

This follows a British woman who has married a Roman army veteran through a year in Britain during the reign of Hadrian. It is filled with tons of accurate detail about every aspect of daily life. It is written as a novel but because the author is a scholar of Roman British history and archaeology, you can count on her accuracy in a way that I ordinarily don’t rely on with novels.

Roman Woman

By Lindsay Allason-Jones,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Roman Woman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Roman Britain is vividly portrayed in this fascinating and authentically detailed story about a year in the life of an ordinary woman and her family.

The year is AD 133. Hadrian is Emperor of Rome and all its vast empire, including Britannia. The greater part of that island has long been under imperial rule and the Roman legions control most of the land, quelling uprisings and building new forts and towns. Around the fortress of Eboracum (now known as York), a bustling garrison settlement is developing, while along the north-west frontier of Hadrian's empire, the legions are completing the construction…


Roman Britain

By Richard Hobbs, Ralph Jackson,

Book cover of Roman Britain

This is the British Museum’s take on Roman Britain and as you’d expect, there are gorgeous photos on every page. If you can drag your eyes away from the visual feast, the text is intelligent and informative and there are suggestions for further reading. Don’t just leave it adorning the coffee table – pick it up and discover a lost world!

Roman Britain

By Richard Hobbs, Ralph Jackson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Roman Britain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The British Museum's new introductory guide to Roman Britain combines an informative text with first-class design and is illustrated with plentiful artefacts from the museum's collections. Throughout the book the emphasis is on cultural interaction and change, showing the impact of the Roman presence, but also British survivals; the book starts, perhaps unusually for general guides of this kind, with a section on pre-Roman Britain, and ends with a chapter on Britons after Rome. In between we learn about the military, the new literate culture introduced by Rome, about the impact of Rome on the rural economy, and on life…


Hadrian's Wall

By Derry Brabbs,

Book cover of Hadrian's Wall

Last, but certainly not least, the iconic landmark captured through the lens of a master. Despite the sub-title to my previous book, Mike Bishop’s preferred route along Hadrian’s Wall is from west to east, with the prevailing wind at his back. Derry Brabbs obviously agrees, because this beautifully illustrated book takes us from the Solway Coast to Wallsend in a series of stunning photographs that capture the Wall in the kind of breathtaking detail that perfectly illustrates why Brabbs is one of the UK’s most highly regarded photographers. It’s not just about the amazing vistas and moody landscapes, there is a very readable narrative, but it’s the photographs that will draw you back time and time again.

Hadrian's Wall

By Derry Brabbs,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hadrian's Wall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hadrian's Wall has been designated a World Heritage Site since 1987 and in 2005 was also incorporated into a wider UNESCO category - the Frontiers of the Roman Empire.

It is also the basis for an 84 mile National Trail.



The book will cover not only the full length of Hadrian's Wall from the Solway Firth to Wallsend on Tyneside, but also other places of historical, landscape or architectural merit to the north and south of the actual Wall itself.



Chapter One Background and History

Chapter Two The Solway Coast

Chapter Three Carlisle to Birdoswald

Chapter Four Birdoswald to Cawfields…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in ancient Rome, pioneers, and Rome?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about ancient Rome, pioneers, and Rome.

Ancient Rome Explore 141 books about ancient Rome
Pioneers Explore 79 books about pioneers
Rome Explore 236 books about Rome