Roman Reenactors at Birdoswald Legio VIII Augusta 'Invasion of the Celts at Banna'
Birdoswald Roman Fort, 4th August 2001
Legio VIII Augusta
Another Outing for the Webmaster
Reenactors are always popular on this site and hence I made my way into the wild borderlands between England and Scotland to photograph a Roman event at the Fort of Birdoswald, known to the Romans as Banna.
But the gods were not merciful with their Roman subjects on this weekend. It rained, it drizzled, it poured, it even hailed at one point ! :-)
So trying to get some useful photographs out of this mayhem was tricky to say the least. But one did one's best and I hope that the results are enjoyable.
A good way to travel along Hadrian's Wall is the 'Hadrian's Wall Bus' which stops at all the major sites between Carlisle and Newscastle. Note the Bus' number; AD122, the year in which one assumes the wall was begun.
A model of the fort in its full glory in the little museum adjoining the site.
Left: The east gate of the fort is the best preserved gatehouse along the wall.
Right: The wellpreserved remains of the grannaries, help to highlight the importance of grain to the Roman army.
A Roman detachment being inspected by their optio.
With them the Roman reenactors brought not only their regular armour, but also someof the training equipment. Right: the practice wicker shield cradeling some pila, above the wooden swords used in practice.
It isn't all just fighting when a re-enactment group like the VIII Augusta comes to town.
On the left: Roman civilians explain details of everyday life in Roman times.
On the right: A little outdoor canteen run by a veteran, offers snacks and refreshments to the paying soldiers.
But all is not well in Roman Britain. A Celtic chieftain with a few of his tribe is causing no end of trouble.
In an initial battle, which took part in a thunderstorm, and which I couldn't photograph as my camera would have drowned, the barbarians actually managed to defeat the Romans and even carried away their standard.
Once on the battlefield, the explained the a few things about his Celts. As you can tell he had dressed for battle in a looted Roman armour.
Right: Proof, if it were needed, of just which side are the barbarians. The Celts carried with them a couple of (plastic) heads on sticks.
Meanwhile the Romans hold a religious ceremony, asking the gods to aid them in battle, before marching out to go and face the Celtic troublemakers.
The two sides line up roaring their rage at each other. Note the conquered Roman vezillum standard held by the Celts. Also note that with the Celts the womenfolk too would often be part of the fighting force.
First the Roman send in their auxiliaries, to throw the enemy into disorder before heavy legionaries advance their line.
Soon after, the battle is well underway. Note how the Celts are aiming their lances at the legs of the Roman soldier on the right. Due to the protection awarded by Roman armour, the opponent has to pick his point of attack.
The battle is crowned by Roman victory. But the cost in lives was high and only few 'survivors' return to their base.
And so, after a good while of hanging around with rain-soaked Romans, I head back home, leaving behind me the ancient wall, snaking its way through the rugged countryside.
A big thanks to Birdoswald Roman Fort, the Celts and the Legio VIII Augusta !
Should you care to see a little more of Birdoswald Fort you can always check out the separate page on this site about my visit to the fort itself, rather than this event.