Old Sarum: 2nd May 2016
They call it the ‘Early Spring Bank Holiday’. Most people call it ‘May Day’, but there are some who don’t like the Communist associations. Or, ex-Air Force personnel, like me, for whom it has an even more unpleasant meaning.
On UK public holidays, most folk take to the roads … or, if TV ads are to be believed, spend the holiday browsing around furniture stores or DIY shops. The first is the reason I very rarely go far on such days.
But, just down the road is Old Sarum Castle, where they hold a historic re-enactment on most holidays, and I often go down to lend a hand with the stewarding. This time, it was the turn of the Romans.
Now, Romans from one group or another are frequent visitors, and I have lots of photos already in my archives. But, I did slip the GoPro into my pocket, in case they brought something different.
They’d had a war chariot especially built, in which rode the British leader, Queen Boudicca. Contrary to popular belief, though, it DIDN’T have knives on the wheel hubs to chop the invading Romans off at the knees … I don’t think the Elfin Safety people would have allowed it, anyway.
We’ve actually had a chariot here before, but that was a quadriga; drawn by four horses, and consisted of little more than whee;s and a stripped-down frame, intended for racing. The charioteer said at the time that, to use a chariot such as the ones in Ben Hur in a chariot race would be like competing in a Formula One race in an Army truck.
But, for the purposes of battle, it’s ideal … and the sight of such a formidable figure bearing down on them must have had many a legionary quaking in his boots!