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Amazing facts about the Romans in Britain

At the 7 Ages of Manchester festival in June 2005 I came face to face with some real life Romans, or more exactly, historical enactors who live the life, eat the food, wear the clothes, and think the thoughts of real life Romans.

These 21st century Romans earn their salt by doing presentations and re-enactments for school groups, at museums and events of all kinds.

These 'near-real-life' Roman soldiers are brought to us by the Chester-based company Roman Tours.

They showed us their armour, their weapons, their food, and told us about their lifestyle, treating us barbarian Britons with disdain. No politically correct pandering here - there was no such thing in the second century. I've never learnt so much in such a short space of time! Here are some of the facts I learned - I'll spare you the gory ones:

The Romans never conquered Britain, they only occupied it

Most children of the Ancient Britons died of disease by the age of 3

The Romans brought clean water, roads and and law to Britain

The amphitheatre at Deva (Chester) was one of the largest in the world

It is reckoned that the standard of Roman battlefield medicine wasn't equalled until 1914.

The Romans used urine as a disinfectant.

The Roman fort at Mamucium (Manchester) was a staging post on the way to Eboracum (York).

Roman soldiers were taken into the army at 14 and remained in service for 25 years.

They usually stayed with the same group of soldiers for the whole of their service period.

As soldiers they weren't allowed to marry but could have girlfriends.

A Roman soldier had only a one in three chance of seeing military action.

Though vastly outnumbered, the Romans were able to control Britain using their superior equipment and training.

It's the closest to travelling back to Roman times without stepping in a time machine. It's an experience you - and your children / students - will never forget.

Full details on the Roman Tours website www.romantoursuk.com.

See my review of the Manchester Civic Society 7 Ages of Manchester festival.

Written by Aidan O'Rourke
Posted/Updated 2005-06-20

Aidan O'RourkeAidan O'Rourke has been active in photography and online media since 1995. He has documented the development of the local area in his Eyewitness website (1997-2005) and as a contributor to books, publications and the Manchester Evening News. He runs his Eyewitness photography walks in Manchester, Liverpool and other locations. He offers one-to-one tuition in Photography and Languages. He is a high-level speaker of German and can offer photography walks and tours through the medium of German. Visit www.aidan.co.uk

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