Monthly Archives: December 2012

How do you make Roman Armour from household items?

Our Roman armour and shield

As you can see from a previous post we have been dressing people up as Roman Legionaries. Just how did we make a full suit of Roman armour from everyday items?

Roman Legionaries wore a standard set of upper body armour called Lorica Segmentata, made in sections built from strips of steel, riveted and laced together.

A trawl of the internet revealed some good ideas about making a Roman soldiers costume for children, but nothing as ambitious as recreating a set of junior Lorica Segmentata from easily obtained items.

The armour under construction

We used a number of good published diagrams of the components of Lorica to create a parts list and templates for the strips of armour and cut the sections from stiff corrugated card. The sizes and number of strips in body armour and the shoulder plates were reduced to fit a younger recruit.  The whole set of body and shoulder armour was built up in one piece using paper fasteners as rivets. The whole assembly was coated with PVA and then given a burnished steel paint effect.

The completed armour painted with a burnished metal effect

Now for the shields. Not satisfied with the usual suggestion that a plastic cup could be used as a central boss, we managed to make ours from a section of a plastic bottle mounted on a rectangular sheet of card which gave a more authentic look. A bit of research on historic paint colours and a search of the local DIY ‘match pots’ and our shields were ready for battle.

Some of the finished shields

Following a suggestion from one website we made a helmet from a cut down hard hat, which worked very well after a coat of PVA and the metallic paint effect.

We were so pleased with the end result that we are making a detailed instruction sheet with a pattern, instructions to follow and details of the paints and effects that we used to create our Roman armour which will be available soon.

The Romans in Westgate

A recruit to the Roman Army

Friday the 7th of December was Roman Day at St. Saviours C. of E. Junior School in Westgate. The Trust were invited to bring some Roman themed activities to the event, as well as Roman objects that the children could use to understand the everyday life of Roman people.

There was also an introduction to the army of Rome, which first conquered Britain in 43 AD and one young recruit was dressed in the full armour of a Legionary soldier and put through his paces as a new recruit to the Roman Army.

Armour and shields of the Roman soldiers

Organised into three legions, under standards bearing each Legion’s symbol, the Lion, the Eagle and the Tiger, the army of Westgatians marched in battle order around their school hall. The noise of their feet and cheering must have been heard in Rome.

A final battle saw two soldiers of each legion defend their standard bearer and legion’s standard with their shields from a ferocious bombardment with rubber balls.

Roman objects on display
Roman objects on display

Surviving with their standards and honour intact the Legions retired from the field to a well-deserved lunch.

Later the demobbed Legionaries had a chance to see and handle a range of Roman artefacts representing the objects of everyday life and personal items, as well as the new building materials and construction methods the Romans brought to Britain.

Everyone signed their initials in a wax tablet, just as the Romans of Westgate may have done two thousand years ago.

A Roman wax writing tablet
The initials of all the the children at the Roman Day written in the wax of a Roman writing tablet