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Roman legionary 79AD
#1
Guidance needed please.

I'm looking to recreate a Roman legionary around 69 to 79 AD.  What gear should I be looking to buy.  I'm UK based and freely willing to admit that I'm completely incapable of making anything harder than a cup of tea so its all shopping time.  What items would I need and where best to get them from.

Help appreciated

Atrebates

 
Andy Price
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#2
First of all, are you a member of a group yet? If so, you would be best to ask the group's authenticity officer (or whoever stands in that role), as different groups have different standards and practices.

If you are not a member of a group currently and not intending to join one for the time being, but putting the impression together for your own interest, then I am happy to offer some advice, although please note that this is strictly if you are not a member of a group already, unless the group is the RMRS, in which case I would be the one you were approaching for advice.

First things first: clothing and footwear.

You primary garment will be a tunic. This is very simple to make and if you can make a cup of tea, you can make a tunic. It should be square or rectangular, and without sleeves (the Romans in the period in question were not into tailoring). It should be made of woven wool (not knitted of felt) and should, when unbelted, hang to mid calf. Width-wise, it should (when unbelted and standing in cruciform stance) as a minimum reach to the elbows and (based on surviving examples and dimensions known from papiri) possibly as wide as the wrists. It should be straight sided and will resemble something like a large pillowcase. Leave about a foot unsewn along the middle of the top seem,to form the neck hole and an unsewn stretch of about the same length at the top of each side seem for the arm holes. If you still insist on buying a tunic, avoid anything which does not match this description - the seller will be an unprincipled charletan. When the tunic is belted the width of the garment will form sleeves.

If you are not a member of a group, the colour of the tunic is up to you (most groups have an established tunic colour, although the Romans themselves probably didn't at that time. Known colours are red (shades varying from washed out pink to scarlet or orange), off-white/undyed (although undyed wool can also be found in a variety of browns, from a light beige to a brown dark enough to look black in low light), green and blue. Avoid using strong or deep shades, as with natural dyes these would require a very large quantity of dyestuff (or the addition of iron filings, which can also darken dye). The only permissible decoration (and certainly not compulsary) is a pair of narrow vertical lines of a dark colour on both front and back, known as clavi, which should start at the seam slightly on either side of the neck opening and run down to the hem on both sides. These should be about an inch wide.The wool should not be of a heavy weight and as it was the Roman practice to wear multiple tunics over one another when it was cold, rather than thick tunics. For this reason you should consider having more than one woollen tunic.

To wear the tunic, belt it fairly tightly with a woven waist tie, a piece of leather lacing or even a piece of rope. This will also create sleeves from the width of the garment. Hitch the tunic up through the waist tie until the hems are above the knee, both front and back.

You should also have a linen undertunic. This should be of the same design as the woollen tunic but slightly smaller in both directions. Your kit will feel far more comfortable with an undertunic and it also adds insulation from cold through layering as well as keeping you cooler when it is hot. You may find that your undertunic rides up as you hitch up your tunic, so be prepared to keep pulling it down again as the woollen tunic is hitched up.

Next, you will want a cloak. Forget anything you have seen in a film. Two types of cloak seem to have been routinely used by soldiers in this period: the sagum (plural: sagi) and the paenula (plural: paenulae). The sagum is a rectangular cloak about the same size as a king size blanket, which is folded double and worn around the body, being secured on the right shoulder with a brooch, to leave the right arm free to move. Sculptural evidence shows that much of the sagum was often thrown back over the left shoulder to allow the left hand to be used. The ends of a sagum can be decorated with tassels formed by tying knots in the ends of the warp threads to prevent fraying, although not always. Material can be pulled up from inside the back of the neck to form a hood.
The paenula is a semi-circular cloak with a hood, which tends to resemble a poncho. It can be done up by two or three toggles (the top one at the throat and the others separated by about four inches) or simply sewn together at the front for the top eight to ten inches.
Cloaks are known to have been made in several colours, with red, green, blue and brown all being attested, although Graham Sumner says that the majority of representations show a yellow-brown shade, so this would be the best shade to go for for either type of cloak.

You will probably also want a scarf too. Avoid the triangular ones favoured by some groups - the Romans did not go in for cutting things to shape - they used the shape that came off the loom. The few good representations of scarves show them as long and narrow, like modern scarves, sometimes with tasselled ends as described for the sagum. There is not much evidence for the scarf being an issued item, but it can certainly save your neck from uncomfortable rubbing from your sword strap or helmet ties.

In cold weather you will also want socks (udones) and leg bindings (fasciae). Socks can be either made from woven cloth or from 'sprang-work', which is similar to the Viking 'naalbinding' and has the properties of a knitted sock.
Ideas for socks made from woven material can be found here:
http://www.larp.com/legioxx/coldcloth.html
For sprang-work/naalbound socks, look here:
https://www.armamentaria.com/store/index...c1fc33ff32

Leg bindings are similar to the puttees worn by soldiers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These people sell very good leg bindings. They are not listed on their site,but I have seen them selling them at re-enactors' markets.
http://www.artvikings.co.uk/

One item you will not need is trousers of any sort. What evidence there is suggests that Roman soldiers did not start wearing trousers of any sort until some time after AD97, except for cavalry, who seem to have been wearing them at least from the AD40s. The earliest representation of Roman infantry soldiers wearing trousers comes from the metopes of the Tropaeum Triani at Adamklissi, built in AD109, and even there only one of the 54 metopes shows infantry wearing trousers. You would not need them anyway, even in the cold, as the cold weather kit already described will keep you very well insulated from the cold without the need to cover up your knees. Don't let anyone tell you that you need trousers - you don't.

For footwear, the best option is caligae, the well known openwork (and fully adjustable) hobnailed ankle boot.
http://www.legiotricesima.org/images/cal...feet02.jpg
The best person to talk to about these here on RAT is Martin Moser, so I would recommend contacting him. Caligae can be worn with socks when it is cold. Don't worry about modern sensibilities about socks and sandals. For one thing, caligae are boots, not sandals and in any case, the socks with sandals combination did not bother the Romans:
http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/41...cklong.jpg
If you plan on depicting a soldier in the north of Britain in the AD70s you could also consider wearing Vindolanda fell boots, which, unlike caligae, are known from a number of sites in northern Britain.
https://rigorevali.co.uk/product/vindola...pe-calcei/
Despite their apparent absence in the north of Britain, caligae continued to be used by soldiers at least into the early second century AD, as they are shown on the Adamklissi metopes.


Right, that does for your basic kit. Now on to the more expensive bit - the hard kit.

The first thing will be a military belt. This should be able to be worn both when dressed only in soft kit and when in armour, so it needs to have a long enough tongue with enough holes to allow this. You could, if you like, choose to wear two belts, one for your sword and one with an apron for your dagger, if you have one. If only wearing one belt and a baldric make sure the belt has an apron.
Armamentaria sell a belt which is acceptable for the period you are interested in, although other types of belt plate were starting to replace this type by the AD70s:
https://www.armamentaria.com/store/index...cts_id=467

Armamentaria also sell a good selection of helmets, although not many are listed on their site at present. For an AD70s impression I would go for one of the following: Imperial Gallic 'G' or 'H', Imperial Italic 'C' 'D' or 'E', or Coolus 'F' or 'G'.
http://deepeeka.in/catalogsearch/result/...man+helmet
Speak to Adrian at Armamentaria. He should be able to get any one of these helmets for you. He also does crests. Note that for a legionary below the rank of centurio, your crest should run from front to back.

For body armour, you have three options: segmentata, mail or scale. I believe armamantaria can get hold of any of the three types for you. For reference, lorica segmentata should be of mild steel, not stainless and must not use modern hinges with a raised barrel. Mail / lorica hamata (probably always the most common type of Roman armour) should be sleeveless or with sleeves extending no further than the middle of your upper arm, the neck hole should be round and it can have Greek-style shoulder doubling, Celtic-style shoulder doubling or no doubling at all. Scale / lorica squamata (which like mail was used both earlier and later than segmentata, as well as at the same time) should also have a round neck hole and may feature Greek-style shoulder doubling or no doubling at all. If you have no luck with Armamentaria (although I don't know why you wouldn't) you could try contacting Armae, who should be able to help.

Make sure you allow space inside your armour for the wearing of more than one tunic and also allow room for your subarmalis, which is the padding you will need to wear under your armour.

Next to weapons.
First of all you will need a sword. You can choose to wear this on a military belt around your waist, in which case you would be wearing two belts (this arrangement is far easier with hamata or squamata, than it is for segmentata), or on a baldric over you left shoulder. To attach a sword scabbard to a waist belt, cut slots in the belt either side where the scabbard will sit and insert a button and loop fastener through each, so that the 'loop' on the back of the belt and the 'button' on the front. https://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/.../id/775833
Then thread a strap or leather lace through all four suspension rings on the scabbard forming an 'X' shape on the rear of the belt. This lace or strap should also pass through both of the loops of the button and loop fasteners, which are there to prevent the sword from slipping to and fro on the belt. If you choose to go for a baldric, make sure it does not have a buckle or fastener of any kind (many re-enactors use these fasteners, but there is no evidence that the Romans did and they are unnecessary anyway). Make sure it is the right length as well. If it is the correct length, the pommel of your sword should be just below your right armpit.

The only type of sword you should be looking at for that period is a Pompeii type gladius. Armamentaria sell an acceptable one made by Deepeeka, but it tends to have a guard which is rectangular in plan, whereas the actual Roman ones are closer to being circular in plan. The brasswork is sometimes not up to a good standard of accuracy on the Deepeeka scabbards. If you are prepared to spend a little more however, you might look at Hans Binfeld, who can make a much more accurate Pompeii sword and scabbard.
http://www.binsfeld-replikate.de/Gladius2.htm

You will need a pilum too. I would recommend either Armamentaria or Armae for this.

Lastly for weapons, you may choose to carry a pugio (dagger) too, although these do not seem to have been carried by all soldiers. When attaching this to your belt (the one with the apron) only use the UPPER two suspension rings. Do not be tempted to use the lower rings as well. Both sculptural evidence and the wear patterns on surviving examples show that the lower rings were not used and simply hung free. Your belt should have two 'frogs' on it about four inches apart for the attachment of the pugio. This should be tightly attached by the upper rings to the frog buttons with leather thonging, so that the upper suspension rings are both on the line of the belt and touching or almost touching the frog buttons.

Armamentaria sell an acceptable dagger in a plain steel sheath, although the suspension loops on the sheath feature a rivet where one should not exist. Armamentaria can also offer a pugio in a silver inlaid sheath, which is much closer to how the real things looked. Sadly however, the inlaid design, while copied from an original, is the wrong style for that shape of sheath plate (type 'Bi) and has been 'stretched' to fit the shape of the plate, whereas it should actually be on a type 'Bii' sheath plate, which is narrower. If you are prepared to spend a little more I would again commend you to Hans Binfeld. His Xanten and Mainz puios are both suitable and very well made.
http://www.binsfeld-replikate.de/Pugio.htm

Lastly, you will need a shield. For this I would contact either Armamentaria or Armae.

This has been a very long post so I will leave it here, but hopefully this should give you most of the information you need. I have not mentioned 'impedimenta' (marching kit) as you have enough to be getting on with for the time being. I can talk about that in a further post if you like.

I hope this has been helpful.

Crispvs
Who is called \'\'Paul\'\' by no-one other than his wife, parents and brothers. :!: <img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_exclaim.gif" alt=":!:" title="Exclamation" />:!:

<a class="postlink" href="http://www.romanarmy.net">www.romanarmy.net
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#3
Very good post.
Andy Ross

"The difference between theory and practice is that in theory, there's no difference"
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#4
Fantastic post and just what I was looking for myself. Many thanks for taking the time to write it.
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#5
JMJ -

Thank you Crispus. That is very concise and useful information.
YBIC
Mike S.
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#6
Quote:Scale / lorica squamata (which like mail was used both earlier and later than segmentata, as well as at the same time) should also have a round neck hole and may feature Greek-style shoulder doubling or no doubling at all.

I've never seen ANY evidence for doublers on scale. Period.

Otherwise, good reply. Remembering this so I can shoot down the SCA'ers when they talk about pants (and long sleeves).
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#7
(10-26-2016, 05:39 AM)Crispvs Wrote: Despite their apparent absence in the north of Britain, caligae continued to be used by soldiers at least into the early second century AD, as they are shown on the Adamklissi metopes.

I propose that the shoes on the Adamklissi Metopes are a variation on the "Allendale" type which do occur in the arch record for the time..... and not caliga of an earlier form.
Ivor

"And the four bare walls stand on the seashore. a wreck a skeleton a monument of that instability and vicissitude to which all things human are subject. Not a dwelling within sight, and the farm labourer, and curious traveller, are the only persons that ever visit the scene where once so many thousands were congregated." T.Lewin 1867
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#8
Caligae of some form are in use until the 5th century AD or later.
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#9
(02-13-2017, 01:15 PM)Flavivs Aetivs Wrote: Caligae of some form are in use until the 5th century AD or later.

I didn't say they weren't Caligae, just not Caliga of an earlier form, for all we know they called "Allendales" a shoe found on military sites and worn by men, Caliga as well.... Allendales come in several forms of construction Carbatina, "Caligae" and Calcei all known from archaeology, found on many sites and were popular from the last quarter of the 1st century.

This represention lacks the tabs and seperate straps of the earlier "Caliga" to be sure its simpler then most surviving Allendales but clearly has the features of some types, its not the exception on the metopes:

Both are left feet:
http://www.leg8.com/wp-content/uploads/2...10x609.jpg

The popularity has wained by the end of the 1st quarter of the 2nd century, but the some of the design features are incorporated into new designs which take their place, weapons and armour continually develope and change over time, shoes are no different in this regard.....
Ivor

"And the four bare walls stand on the seashore. a wreck a skeleton a monument of that instability and vicissitude to which all things human are subject. Not a dwelling within sight, and the farm labourer, and curious traveller, are the only persons that ever visit the scene where once so many thousands were congregated." T.Lewin 1867
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#10
"I've never seen ANY evidence for doublers on scale. Period."

How about our old friend Vonatorix? Smile

http://www.kornbluthphoto.com/images/Vonatorix2.jpg

Crispvs
Who is called \'\'Paul\'\' by no-one other than his wife, parents and brothers. :!: <img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_exclaim.gif" alt=":!:" title="Exclamation" />:!:

<a class="postlink" href="http://www.romanarmy.net">www.romanarmy.net
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#11
(06-06-2017, 12:49 AM)Crispvs Wrote: "I've never seen ANY evidence for doublers on scale. Period."

How about our old friend Vonatorix? Smile

Or indeed Firmus from Verona? [Image: wink.png]

[Image: $D_02339_1.jpg]
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