Bolton School Junior Girls

Learning About the Roman Legion

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Junior Girls in Year 4 were excited to discover more about life in the legion from a Roman soldier!

First, a volunteer from the audience became an auxiliary soldier: she was kitted out in the appropriate helmet, shield, weapon and armour, and given an overview of the training she might receive. The girls found out about pay and how soldiers ended up returning most of it to the Roman army to cover their food, equipment, medical care and so on! The soldier also told them about the importance of bribing the centurion to make sure not to get the worst jobs.

He went on to explain that, at the end of their twenty-five years of service, auxiliaries were given Roman citizenship, as well as describing the benefits they could expect from that.

Moving on, another volunteer dressed up in the armour, helmet and shield of a legionary soldier: much better than the kit given to provincial auxiliaries, as they were already Roman citizens. Other benefits of citizenship included more training, improved weaponry and more detailed instructions on the battlefield compared to auxiliaries. The soldier also revealed that legionaries only had to complete fifteen years of army service, were paid much better and received a portion of land when they retired.

The soldier went on to talk about the deadly weapons and even deadlier tactics that the Romans used to defeat their enemies, from the shield-piercing pilum, a type of javelin, to caltrops that would slow the advance of troops. He explained that these methods and weapons were how the Romans easily conquered their enemies. When the audience pointed out how ‘unfair’ it seemed, he said that the Roman attitude was: ‘It’s not about fairness, it’s about winning!’

Finally, the girls learned how to recognise a centurion from the armour, horse-hair plume worn on top of the helmet, and twisted staff. The soldier also told them about the benefits of becoming a centurion.

In the afternoon, the girls enjoyed a clay workshop in which they made Roman oil lamps and counters for the ‘Tabla Lusarius’ game.

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