Posted by: travelrat | August 27, 2008

Romans at Sarum

The old castle at Old Sarum is ideal for the shows historical re-enactors put on for us. The ramparts and ditches form two concentric circles, and between them is a green sward which is really good for battlefield set-pieces and equestrian displays. And, the trees outside the outer ditch are great for ensuring you don’t get too much modern stuff in your photos … as well as denying a free peep to those who don’t want to pay the entrance fee.

This time, it was the turn of the Romans to show us their stuff. The Ermine Street Guard have been in existence for 36 years, and are a leading authority on things Roman, especially military. And, they told us that some of the things the Hollywood would have us believe about the Roman Army were, in their words, ‘excretia tauris’

Also in attendance were ‘Vicus’, who brought along a few Ancient Britons, as well, to show us that the Romans didn’t always have things all their own way.

Completing the display was ‘The Troop’ … a pair of lads who showed off Roman cavalry skills. Without stirrups; they hadn’t been invented yet. The Romans weren’t very good at fighting on horseback, they explained, so they usually used locally-recruited auxiliaries instead.

And, they brought along a formidable display of ‘artillery’ weapons; a ballista, a catapult and an onager. For the first time, they brought along a ‘Quadriga’ … a four-horse racing chariot. Television’s ‘Time Team’ recently found one on an archaeological dig, and they used it to build this faithful replica.

They showed us some of their battlefield manoeuvres, many of which still hold good today. In fact, I believe Army officer cadets still study the work of long-dead Roman generals. And, have you ever seen riot police advancing in arrow formation, banging their riot shields to disconcert the ungodly?

The Romans thought of it first!


Responses

  1. Oh, this is fantastic. I would’ve loved to have been there. The costumes are so authentic. A Quadriga? WOW. Sounds like a not to be missed event!

  2. Watch this space! I’m just putting the finising touches to a video clip of the Quadriga, and will probably post it on Wednesday


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