Rosemary Sutcliff’s Dolphin Ring and fictional Roman Aquila family

In a comment on a recent post yesterday Robert Vermaat points me to a blog post from a few years ago which explores how Rosemary Sutcliff passed a dolphin ring down many generations of  the Aquila family over several books. Thus:
“Marcus took it from him and bent to examine it. It was a heavy signet-ring; and on the flawed emerald which formed the bezel was engraved the dolphin badge of his own family … ”
As to why this was a dolphin, he’s not sure it was ever explained? Does anyone know? The books, by the way, in order of century setting, not order of writing, are:
The Eagle of the Ninth (1954) – set in the 2nd century
The Silver Branch (1957) – 3rd century
Frontier Wolf (1980) – 4th century
The Lantern Bearers (1959) – 5th century
Sword At Sunset (1963) – 5th century
Dawn Wind (1961) – 6th century
Sword Song (1991) – 10th century
The Shield Ring (1956) – 11th century

Rosemary Sutcliff’s Dolphin Ring books | The sequence

A Twitterer, who is “reading Knight’s Fee now” asks “is there a chronology of (Rosemary Sutcliff) books re the family with the dolphin ring?”. I think it goes like this – but do put me right any of you Rosemary Sutcliff experts out there … And does anyone know or recall WHY a dolphin is the image on the ring?

The Eagle of the Ninth (AD 133),
The Silver Branch (about AD 280),
Frontier Wolf (AD 343),
The Lantern Bearers (AD 450),
Sword at Sunset (immediately follows the time of The Lantern Bearers)
and Dawn Wind (AD 577).

The  sequence of stories of the descendants of Marcus Flavius Aquila, hero of The Eagle of the Ninth, continues with Sword Song (about AD 900) and The Shield Ring (about AD 1070).

Rosemary Sutcliff, The Eagle of the Ninth and the North-East of England

The Eagle of the Ninth (now a 2010 film) is ‘perhaps’ Rosemary Sutcliff’s ‘finest book of historical fiction’ claims Alan Myers, and she is ‘one of the most distinguished children’s writers of our times’. The Eagle of the Ninth ‘exemplifies the psychological dilemmas that Rosemary Sutcliff brought to her novels’.

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Rosemary Sutcliff children’s book Frontier Wolf inspires models | Sutcliff Discovery of the Day

Rosemary Sutcliff’s books, such as Frontier Wolf, inspire not just children aged ‘8 to 88’ (her phrase), readers, teachers, archaeologists,  historians and film makers, but also makers of small model armies and soldiers. I found these models of German Auxiliary cavalry inspired by Rosemary Sutcliff children’s book Frontier Wolf.

Rosemary Sutcliff obituary (1920-1992) | The Independent newspaper reviews Rosemary Sutcliff life and work

Rosemary Sutcliff’s novels ‘set a new standard for children’s historical fiction because of their insight, passion and commitment’ said The Independent in its obituary in 1992 about the famous chidren’s author. Mind you, she wrote for adults too and some  books were marketed as adult historical fiction (like Sword at Sunset which topped the bestseller lists).Read More »