40.1583 Reenactment Event at Birdoswald
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Reenactment Event at Birdoswald
Birdoswald, 26th May 2008

The ‘Roman Military Research Society’ (aka Legio XIV Gemina Martia Victrix) visited Birdoswald Fort ( Banna) in late May and yours truly so to it that he was out there to take some pictures.
Conditions were a little tricky at times and a truly cutting wind saw to it that what ought to have been a warm, sunny day was in fact very chilly at times.
Safe to say, I’m glad I wasn’t one of the reenactors bearing up to such bracing conditions in a skimpy tunic.

Again I concentrated on snapping impressions, rather than mere wide shots of formations of Roman reenactors manoeuvring among a horde of spectators.
I also tried my best to remove bystanders and the hideous English Heritage safety fencing from the pictures in post-production. So there’s been quite a lot of editing done to some pics.

The display also included a fashion show and a demonstration of armour through the ages. I will seek to create some specific galleries using those pictures in the near future.

The display by the Legio XIV does not merely involve Roman soldiers, but so too representations of ancient Roman life throughout the empire.
To the right we see a lady in a turquoise long tunic of a German style and a peasant woman of the frontier holding her dog.
Note: the child on the right of the image is wearing the bulla, an amulet carried by Roman children to ward off evil.
The kitchen was busy. A charcoal fire was lit and here you see onions getting chopped. All food was prepared with traditional Roman tools.

Of course, as usual for these events, the military was there.
In this case it’s the colourful vexillarius of the unit, equipped with his animal skin, his decorated round shield and the vexillum standard.

A line-up of infantry.
The blue clothed soldier with the square shields are the Roman legionaries.
The less heavily armed soldier with the lighter, green, oval shields in the foreground are non-Roman auxiliary troops; in this case Batavian infantrymen.
The spooky wolf’s head protruding over all at the back of the picture is the animal skin decoration of the vexillarius, the standard bearer of the unit.

A perfect illustration of the repel cavalry formation.
It would be a brave horse which would try to barge its way through this.

Left: A hastatus of the pre-Marian republican army.
Centre: A 1st century soldier weighed down by his pack.
Above: A late Roman infantryman wielding a plumbatum, a lead weighted dart.

It sure is an arduous task, all this marching about….

Truth be told, the marching never seems to end....

This may have been the moment when the thought passed through the decanus’ mind as to why he was the one having to carry the radio antennae on his head. Now there has got to be some sort of conspiracy going on among that lot…

Unit rivalry:
Bad enough that legionaries had to bear the indignity of serving alongside unwashed non-Roman yokels from the far side of nowhere. But to have some bloody Batavians start cracking jokes at the expense of a valiant Roman legionary, surely that’s too much!

There’s nothing like a dirty joke among soldiers.
As usual, the officers are the worst of the lot…. .

Finally, the cavalry arrived.
First, I tried my best to get a few long shots of them, moving in the distance.
It is easy imagining them moving at a distance, scouting the terrain for the main army.

Next the horsemen close at speed and wheel around. All very impressive, especially considering that these guys ride without stirrups…

Taking a look at the cavalryman it is quite obvious just how much of him his shield covers.
Note: here’s experimental archaeology in action. ‘Discovering by doing’.
Notice the sheepskin on the lower half of the back of the shield.
Clearly this is for the benefit of the horse and the leg of the rider.
Yet I’d bet it was not derived from a historical source, but was developed by practical experience.

Well, I hope you enjoyed that little picture collection. My thanks to the reenactors of the Roman Military Research Society for a great photo opportunity.

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