It was fitting that our wannabee Roman soldiers were sent to one of the furthermost outreaches of the Roman Empire during some of the vilest and most horrible weather possible – lashing rain, blustery gales and not particularly warm. It was easy to imagine how miserable it would be, standing watch on the fortress walls of Deva Victrix (Chester), watching out for Celtic insurgents. Luckily for Prep III, we spent the entire journey in warm comfortable buses – not marching, like the Roman soldiers would have had to do – and then, once we arrived at the Grosvenor Museum in Chester, we were in a nice warm exhibition room. All modern day creature comforts for us!
We started our activities with a brief history of the Romans in Chester, learning why they had come there and why the Roman fortress was built where it was. We then had the chance to experience a Roman kitchen, help to rebuild the central heating system of a Roman baths – who knew the Romans had central heating! – and undertake an archaeological dig to search for Roman artefacts. We also saw all the equipment a Roman soldier would have to wear – Tom got to wear it all just to see how heavy it would all have been!
After our lunch (we sat, we did not recline like the Romans would have) we met Marcus, our centurion, who was to drill us to becoming Roman soldiers. We donned our armour and shields, swore our allegiance to the gods, and marched through Chester – Sin! Sin! Sin! Dex! Sin! (Frankie led our marching)- to the amphitheatre where we were put through our paces learning how to be Roman soldiers. Thanks to our training, we were able to defeat the Celtic hordes led by Mrs. White, Mrs. Seward and Mr. Suter! We learned who would have been fighting at the amphitheatre and how, at the end of a fight, we could show mercy or not. Fortunately for Raj, there were more cries of Mitte! (Let him go!) than there were of Iugula! (Kill him!).
Back at the museum, we saw the tombstone of another Marcus, a Roman soldier from Spain who came to Chester and married a local woman, before unfortunately becoming sick and suffering an early death. We learned all about him from the inscriptions on his tombstone. We then used our museum worksheets to explore the rest of the Roman collection.
We had a fantastic insight into the lives of Romans in Chester – thank you Mrs. White for organising it!