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Hi Fellas

First post for me.
I am very new to the whole Roman army thing ok. I am an Biblical Illustrator and am needing a 1st century Centurion costume as accurate as possible for reference. I want to buy one and have perused what seems like hundreds od sites. Some good and some not so good!
Can anybody recommend a site that has REAL authentic replica outfits etc?
Also I am after a ceremonial centurion's outfit. I have seen some photos on shutterstock link:
of Reenactments where the costumes are amazing....Doeas anybody know where these are made and are they availble. I realise something of this calibre would be costly.Also I have attached an imager of an amazing costume.

Any help would greatly apprecited
Thanks and regards
Salve Mr. McKay,

I too, am completely new to this site but for the past several days I have been deep reviewing past posts, very deep. Over 7 years worth of interesting information! Even with what little knowledge I possess I can ascertain with confidence that those images you provided are complete fantasy and very little to do with representing actual historical reconstructions. As you say, "Costumes". "Where these are made"? My guess would be Italy's version of Hollywood as I believe the images of what you are looking at are geared toward some type of festival or inaccurate film production.

You stated that you are looking for, "as accurate as possible for reference". I would encourage you to reference the "Search" function on this forum and I am sure you will find a wealth of historically accurate material on Centurions. So many of my questions have already been answered thus.

Additionally, if you're quite intent as I am, there are volumes of excellent reference books listed on this forum. My first one of several ordered only arrived yesterday. Graham Sumner's book, "Roman Military Dress". I highly recommend it as a base plus the Author is a member of this forum and a very active poster.

Good luck and good "hunting".
Yeah...those images are kind of crappy and do not represent what a centurion would have looked like. There is far too much hollywood influence there.

Here are some examples of reenactor centurions...

What you need:

Gallic or Italic helm with transverse crest of either feathers or horsehair.
Since it is a costume, you can get away with a butted chain maille shirt, with a shoulder doubling.
Padded undershirt (subarmalis) with the things that hang down (pteryges), linen is your best bet.
Phalerae + harness - these are the medallion-like awards worn by most centurions.
Sword + scabbard + baldric
Dagger + scabbard
Appropriate centurion belt
Cacei or Caligae (footwear)
Vine Staff

These items can be had from
Email the owner, Rusty and tell him what you are looking at getting, he can sort you out. You can let him know what you are looking to spend, and go from there.
Thank you guys for the replies....very much apprecited.

I realise The Hollywood look is far from authentic, though I thought it might look cool as display piece. For my illustrations I will need as Magnus has suggested the authentic outfit consisting of the list he provided...thanks.
I have visted Rusty's site and he certainly has the stuff I need.
I have also found some great stuff from Terry Nix,

Magnus..I was toying with the idea of getting a Subarmalis and Pteryges made from leather, as I am not keen on the linen ones. Does anyone know where I can get some medallions to place on the pteryges and more importantly would a centurion have worn some sort of medallions on the pteryges?
Another question: I have only been able to find 2 types of Phalerae/harness, one from deepeeka and the other from Nix Imperial. Are there any different type available retail or again can you buy these type of medallions and make your own?
Sorry guys one more: Did Centurions wear only red crests or as some I have seen white/cream and black, and if so waht was the significance?

Thanks agin fellas for your time help.
Hey Phil,

Don't worry about questions, that's why the forum is here. Smile

Leather...sigh...most of the evidence for pteryges would point at a textile based material like linen, at least for higher ranking officers. But truth be told we don't know for sure...I just avoid leather because of the hollywood stigma I guess lol. In any case a cheap but reasonable one can be found here:

Also, have you considered making your own?

As for the medallions on the end, there is, as far as I know, zero historical evidence that the romans did this. For a great collection of pictures of pteryges, Travis Clark used to have a website up, that now is an archived site. Sadly, many of the pictures are missing, but here is the link:

As for the commericaly available phalerae harness sets, you're correct. Terry Nix has his own version, and deepeeka has a set. There are other vendors that make them, but they aren't cheap. But here is what I have off hand: (Navigate to the bottom) <--- if you are filthy rich and have nothing else to spend money on.

Beyond that, I'm not sure who else does them that is priced reasonably. Your only other option is to study existing phalerae, then start scouring ebay and such for brass, silver or bronze decorative discs that resemble them. It may be at least a start and you can always upgrade later...and if you're not using them for reenactment purposes, it may be ok.

The only evidence there is for the crests are red, and I believe a natural brown (from paintings/frescoes). However, most reenactors (myself included) tend to mix things up...I even observed a Roman marine centurion with a dyed blue horsehair crest...looked very sharp!

The logic behind my decision to go with black and red, was that a few paintings isn't enough to make the issue cut and dried. Purists will argue that we should only copy and stick to what we have in the historical record, BUT I don't think certain things make much difference to the overall impression. A small thing like crest colour to me isn't an's all on how you look at it.

Hope that helps some!
A quick search on ebay...

I think someone else went to a store that sold curtain rod accessories and found some reasonable phalerae-like objects.

Now, I don't condone using these...but like I said, if you are on a budget...
Hey Matt/Magnus

Thanks heaps man for your reply and all of the info you have provided...I really do appreciate it.
I will consider the pteryges in

Also I 'll go through the sites you have listed which I am sure will be of some help.

You know since I have been researching this whole centurion thing it has sparked a real genuine interest in the whole roman army and paraphernalia. Very intersting indeed. The first post I postes with the hollywood type outfit, I have since found out is from The Good friday procession in Qormi, Malta. Apparently the right to dress up and take part is passed down from father to son over the ages from Roman times. There are shops in malta etc that make these elaborate costumes.

Thanks Matt for the ebay links as well...just got them.

Once again thanks for taking the time to help and inform me, I'll let you know how I go. Hope you don't mind if I get back to you with any further questions.

Here are two more sites where you can see centurio reconstructions.

Before you go spending out on lots of specialist kit, it is worth pointing out that as far as we know there are only three items you would need to distinguish yourself from an ordinary legionary. These are the transverse crest, a vine stick and greaves which are tall enough to cover your knees. With some quite basic skills, you can make all of these yourself. Added to these is the probability that many centuriones wore their swords of the opposite side to the way their men wore theirs. Phalerae are worn by a lot of re-enactor centuriones and whilst this is not inaccurate, the stele of M. Favonius Facilis shows that not all centuriones possessed them.,94/

As to armour and helmets, that is really up to you. Although there are no depictions of centuriones in segmentata, that goes for legionaries as well but we know from the archaeological record that it must have been fairly common, despite being absent from the sculptural record. Scale and mail are both shown in depictions of centuriones but these amount to only two examples of scale and three of mail. As centuriones were normally men promoted from the ranks on the basis of their ability and experience and paid at least fifteen times as much as most of their men, I am sure they would have made their own choice of armour based on their own preferences. The same would go for helmets, along with the added detail that many would have had their helmets tinned or silvered in line with earlier practice in order to make them stand out (still to be seen on a helmet from Zagreb and another helmet from Nijmegen, each of different types but quite possibly contemporary with each other).,96/,96/

Regarding pteryges, I would advise against adding bits of metal onto them. This might possibly have been the case with senior officers, but I do not see any suggestions of this practice in the few contemporary images we have for centuriones. The pteryges shown on the stelae of Favonius Facilis and M. Caelius are plain and may be intended to be either linen or leather. In either case, they appear to be fairly stiff, unlike those shown in depictions of senior officers and would probably have been either of stiff multiple layered linen like that seen in the classical and Hellenistic linothorax or stiffened (and probably layered) leather or rawhide. Both these possibilities (when worn in overlapping layers) would provide some degree of flexible protection.

Thanks so much Crispvs for all of your input and additional information...very much appreciated.
I can handle illustrations quite well, and am confident I'll nail my paintings depicting Roman soldiers, though my talents certainly don't lie with beating metal to make greaves, though maybe they could be leather? Even so I will go and see a leather worker to make me the pteryges and take your advice and leave out any medallions on them.

Regarding mail is there anyone who does it in stainless?
I am asking because I would like to have this outfit on display in my house after I use it on a model for my illustrations. Though I am presuming if in iron it would have to be oiled/waxed or something to prevent rust. Or wrapped up in an oil cloth?
I think I saw somewhere a aluminium one?

Also is anyone selling vine sticks? There are a few vineyards in our area so maybe I couls ask them for one.

Thanks again Crispvs

Quote:[attachment=664]istockphoto_12534658-centurion.jpg[/attachment]...I have attached an imager of an amazing costume.

I think even the emperor of Rome himself would be envious of a rig-out like that! :grin:

If I recall correctly, the only thing we are ever told by any of the Roman writers about a 1st century centurion's "ceremonial" dress is that at a formal parade in Rome on one occasion they wore pure white clothes.
Quote:Also is anyone selling vine sticks? There are a few vineyards in our area so maybe I couls ask them for one.

Sometimes the 'decorations' department of your gardening shopping mall have some, but most of the time a whineyard or a forest will supply you with a nice stick more easily.

As for another set of nice (and good prices) phalerae, check

Well, and here a picture of my centurio kit, just for inspiration. But using the search function you should be able to find more topics with the same theme. Also search for phalerae for relevant photo's.

[Image: reiswagenCenturio.jpg]
(well, in the meantime I added torques to the phalerae harnass and redid my belt and gladius scabbard)

Well, here another one with some improved kit, but when my new Imp Gallic D helmet hadn't a crest slot yet.

[Image: millingen2a.jpg]
The red and blue pteryges are very striking. Is there an original source for the colour scheme?
Thanks Jvrjenivs

Appreciate the information you have provided.


What they said! Also, definitely metal for the greaves, and skip the vambraces completely, please!

We tend to be very reenactor-oriented here, so our advice is generally aimed at a historically accurate impression. If you don't plan to use your kit for reenacting or living history, you have a lot more leeway, of course, and you don't HAVE to make us happy! Just be aware that questions about stainless steel or aluminum make some of us gag, even if we know your goals already. And we also might not be able to help as well, since we only know where to get the *right* stuff!

Good luck and Vale,

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