Legion Close, N1

Place name

A legion was was the largest military unit of the Roman army, during the period of the Roman Empire (27BC – AD476) it had of 5,600 infantry and 200 auxilia (mostly calvary).  It is one of a number of streets in the area named with a Roman connection to mark the discovery of a “Roman fort” to the west of Barnsbury Square. All later research revealed it to be the moated site was a Medieval property. The London Remembers website investigated why a plaque had been put up in Hungerford Road claiming to be the location of a Roman Fort, at the Islington Local History Centre in December 2011. They were told: “An 1805 Dent map suggests remains of a roman camp around what was to become the Hungerford Road area. Most historical texts suggest there were fortifications in Highbury, Battle Bridge (King’s Cross) and Barnsbury. Highbury Hill might have been a summer camp, as its elevation might have proved useful. However, that said, although the plaque is a genuine council plaque it seems that the information used to justify it was a little questionable. Mary Cosh, for instance, explains that the local ‘roman remains’ have been identified as medieval and many of the theories of roman fortifications are from texts from the eighteenth to mid-twentieth centuries. Of the modern literature which does suggest roman activity in Islington I have not found mention of it happening where Hungerford Road now stands.” This road does at least have one connection with the military, it was laid out over a former  Territorial Army Centre on Offord Road. The building was still in use by the military in the 1960s, having been the HQ of the Battery and Ammunition Column 1 & 2 London Divisions of the Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA) from 1914, the RGA had been formed in 1908. But it was followed by the 353 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment RA (TA). After the military moved it later became a clothes factory. A legion (used from Roman times) referred to a large body of military men.

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