The triumphant return of the Romans

November 13, 2022

posted by jamieglasspool

Following three postponements (twice due to Covid and the death of the late Queen) the Ermine Street Guard finally made a triumphant return to Cirencester amphitheatre on 2nd October 2022 to celebrate their 50th anniversary.

It was a brilliant day. Despite forecasts of heavy rain, it turned out to be gloriously sunny which brought the crowds flocking and an estimated 2000 people of all ages joined in the free event throughout the day.

Cirencester Amphitheatre audience
Hundreds of people basked in the autumn sun to enjoy the displays

Since its formation in 1972 the Ermine Street Guard has become a leading authority on all aspects of the Roman Army. Based on research, they make most of their own kit and equipment to be as realistic as possible.

Their costumes were superb, with authentic uniforms, regalia and shields adding a splash of colour and drama to the arena. 

The Guard put on two spectacular performances showcasing aspects of a Roman soldiers training together with demonstrations of combat formations and artillery displays – archery, swordsmanship, bolt shooting catapults and who can forget the flying melons!!

Alongside the displays there was a ‘living history’ camp demonstrating how Roman soldiers would have lived, the tools they used and the food they ate. This was complemented by the Corinium Museum who, to promote their current exhibition, ‘Gladiators: A Century of Secrets’, provided activities for children and opportunity to dress up as a Gladiator.

A guard member prepares a bow beside a powerful mounted catapult

The event was coordinated by English Heritage with support from AQIVA and Cirencester Town Council and grant aided by the Town Council and Cotswold District Council. Donations collected on the day by English Heritage will go towards funding the event with any surplus being ring-fenced for future projects at the amphitheatre.

and grant aided by the Town Council and Cotswold District Council. Donations collected on the day by English Heritage will go towards funding the event with any surplus being ring-fenced for future projects at the amphitheatre.

Many thanks must go to those who, beforehand and on the day, made the event such a success. Staff from English Heritage, volunteers from AQIVA who stewarded the event and made sure visitors were given a warm welcome, the Ermine Street Guard themselves and, not least, the many people who came along to support the event and enjoy the day.

It was wonderful to see the amphitheatre filled with so many people and being used as originally intended; for public entertainment. It will be a long time since Cirencester amphitheatre saw so many people gathered together in its arena – perhaps not since the real Romans left!! 

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