The Army in Roman Britain

Large battles became rare in Britain by the time of the first century AD. When however such warfare did happen both the roman auxiliaries and the roman legions did fight together although the exact manner varied in what they did and under what changing circumstances they found themselves when dealing with an enemy.

Like today's soldier life in the main for these soldiers of the emperor would have be one which consisted of drills and training on a daily basis with various manoveres being undertaken to practice their warfare techniques.

When not fighting the roman legionaries who were skilled in various trades and crafts would have been kept busy by the officers in building roads, improved forts and civil buildings.

The auxiliaries on the other hand, either on foot or on horseback would have had to carry out the many patrols that were needed to gather information and make certain they were not subject to any surprise attacks.

To relieve the boredom the Romans celebrated many colourful festivals and parades, with cavalry shows and also mock battles were held.
One beautifully made cavalry helmet worn by a trooper was found at the roman fort of Trimontium (Newstead)

But things slowly changed and by the 4th century AD the Empire of Rome had underwent many changes also, since the times when her armies went outwards from Rome herself.

The army had underwent change defence was now the main focus for the military planners, the roman legions were much reduced in size, with the new troops being more lightly armed and more mobile than the previous heavy infantry of the 1st and 2nd century's AD. Mounted cavalry now also played a much more important role and were able to deal with enemy attacks much more rapidly.

By this later period the frontier troops of Rome themselves were mainly from the neighbourhood in which they were stationed close to their forts. By the year 406 AD roman soldiers vexillations were taken to Gaul to deal with fighting there and by 410 AD under the emperor Honorius the eagles left the shores of Britain.

The legacy of the Romans however still remains within our land after nearly 2000 years, with great military works, such as Hadrians Wall and the Antonine Wall, the Roman baths in Bath. Many of our fine civic buildings today look like Roman Temples. They also left system of coinage, the Latin language is still used today . in the schools of law and medicine. An understanding of the planets and under the Emperor Augustus we have our calendar of 365 days. These are just a few examples of our roman heritage.