This site is dedicated to a very particular hobby... reconstructing Roman Legionary equipment for the Second Augustan Legion's advance into the ancient British Westcountry.

It involves a great deal of travel, study, handwork and occaisonal fun!!

Sunday 31 January 2010

A Winter Expedition

December saw a return to an old stamping ground, the Taunus Mountains in Germany, during heavy snow.

A fantastic stretch of Roman frontier works can be traced through the forests, making it an excellent route.

This time we kept to a short route, up the Feldberg and back... at -20 degrees celsius!

The clothing has to be well reconstructed to be  both authentic and practical. For me this means no synthetics, lots of wool and no cotton, hence the old trekkers adage, 'in the hills cotton kills'.

I wore a long sleeved tunic as a base layer, a standard thick woollen tunic as a mid layer, with a linen and felt arming jack, covered by mail and a heavy cloak. Two pairs of woollen socks were worn on the feet, beneath enclosed boots. A needle bound hat was also covered by the cloak. With all this, I was more than adequately warm.

The only problem area were the legs. The leather breeches were not very warm, and next time I will opt for wool. Shin wraps would also have been beneficial, as my calf muscles were working to climb up a mountain whilst being exposed to sub zero temperatures, and ached for a few days afterwards.

We were only out for three hours, but the clothing kept us warm. Some people thought we were mad to have gone out in Roman clothing in these temperatures, however, the clothing was for the most part very practical.

Wool is all too often an underestimated material, though recent research has shown that it can compete with some of the best synthetics on the market. It has even been used to scale Everest...

Wednesday 18 November 2009

New Scarf

Here is a close up of the material for my new legionary scarf. It was supplied by Cezary Wyszynski of Legio XXI Rapax in Poland. It is hand spun and hand woven.

I dyed it madder red on the weekend workshop, having pre mordanted it with Alum.

And here is what inspired it, an original fragment from the Roman military quarry site of Mons Claudianus dating to the Second century AD. It was excavated under my old professor, Valerie Maxfield.

Monday 16 November 2009

The Thorsbjerg Tunic - Mark 1!

This is our first attempt at the sleeved tunic found at Thorsbjerg, Denmark. It likely dates to the 4th/5th century AD.

All stitching techniques follow the original.

This reconstruction was made with hand woven natural wool purchased in Afghanistan. The selvedges were kept intact. Mark two tunic will be handwoven tabby and diamond twill, dyed red with madder and will have tablet woven decorative borders, but probably wont appear on this blog for another few months yet!!!

Dyers Workshop

Five of us met up last weekend for our second dyers workshop, at the Button Family farm in Carmarthenshire.

Steph's fleeces are alledged to be the 18th best sheep fleece in the UK, so the location was perfect!

After being introduced to the wool making team, who spent much of the weekend chewing in the adjacent fields, we set to work. The naalbinden cap was a kind present from Miriam Bloema of Archeon.

We spent day one on trial pieces with Madder, Marigold, Oak and Weld as dyestuffs, and Alum, Copper, Iron and Tin. Despite the lack of experience, we achieved a pleasing range of fast colours.

Day two was serious work getting our legionary scarves dyed a nice shade of madder red. I used my diamond twill hand woven wool for this. The results were rather pleasing!!

Next workshop will focus on waterproofing our garments with felting and greasing, I expect we will learn a great deal more.

Clothing Research

Its time to get serious about clothing!

First comes a great stack of books, which I always establish before making anything new... here is the dining room table full of books I'm going to need if I'm going to improve my kit authentically.

My aim is to get a full set of clothing done over the winter, in time for the spring, and I'm going to need it too...
 Currently we're planning marching up mountains to the highest part of the German Limes, bivouacing in the Brecon Beacons, and tracking boar in the New Forest.... all in period clothing. Its going to need to be more than just looking okay, but work as practical outdoor clothing.

Monday 2 November 2009

Enemy seen...

Here is a fantastic image from Folkert, our indigenous Late Pre Roman Iron Age person. (or 'celt' for the less politically/archaeologically correct!!)

This impression represents the early La Tene period, which is earlier than our normal era, but was such a good photo I had to include it!

Image taken by Janine Janusch and Jim Mulliner

Sunday 1 November 2009

The campaign season closes

With the final event of the season, at the Peat Moors Centre in Somerset, the 2009 campaign season is over. It's now time to march back to the drill square and workshops, under the watchful eye of the centurion!