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Ancient Roman armour and weapons


Roman Armour

Ancient Roman armour  is often referred to as “Lorica” armour and can be subdivided into three main types:

roman legion wearing armour

Ancient Roman legion wearing armour

Ancient Segmentata (large iron plates strapped together by leather and bronze fastenings)
Squamata (small flat pieces of iron, pierced and sewn or riveted together overlapping
Hamata ( better know as chainmail) consisting of thousands of iron links riveted together.

A cloak or sagum was sometimes worn oven the armour, and thick trousers known as braccae would keep the legs warm when the weather was cold. A tunic was worn underneath the armour – it is said that the colour red was used to disguise a soldier who was bleeding in battle – his enemy might know he was wounded.   Sometimes a neck scarf was warn called a focale.
A belt or cingulum would be decorated with a number of long hanging leather and metal strips (petruges) which would indicate the rank or importance of the soldier.
As the soldiers had to often march many miles  at time they would wear either sandals with slits to let in the air, or caligae, a type of boot.  Both were often studded with hobnails on the soles to minimise wear and tear.

Roman Weapons

Two main types of spear were used, a hasta (long wooden spear with iron spearhead and a pilum (shorter, often designed to break so it could not be thrown back by the enemy)

Roman Soldier with Gladius and Scutum

Roman Soldier with Gladius and Scutum

The other main weapon often carried by soldiers would have been the bow, normally small made of wood and horn.  both bows and spears would have been quite cheap to make, so were common weapons.  Bows were carried by Sagittarii named after an arrow or sagitta. they were much smaller than the later English Longbow and not as powerful, but, being light and easy to transport, could easily be used by a Sagittarius’s on horseback (when stationary)
A more powerful weapon was the small crossbow, but not much evidence is available as to how popular they were – certainly more expensive than a bow or “arcus”.

However, a lot of Roman infantry would have used a gladius (sword) which was decorated according to rank. The larger swords were known as gladius major or spatha.




Roman School Workshops

Ancient Roman Visits to any School in the UK

Can I visit you school to make a Roman presentation or workshop? Please phone me on 01634 401274 or email spiralgifts@gmail.comI also present workshop visits for Saxons, Vikings, Normans, Medieval, Tudor and Stuart periods! Please visit my Medieval Days website for more information.

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Contact Name:Peter Balanck
Contact Telephone:01634 401274
Mobile:077 5757 1234
Address:Medieval Days 173 High Street Rochester Kent ME1 1EH

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