They ate dormice, wore sandals and were partial to bathing, but there was nothing soft about the Roman army.
The might of Imperial Rome will be on show as Dalby Forest, near Pickering, provides the spectacular backdrop for the return of the Comitatus period history and research group on 15 and 16 May.
The group takes it name from an elite unit that was based near Bridlington to repel foreign invaders and they will turn the clock back 1600 years with displays of arms drill, demonstrating weapons including spears, swords and axes and a fearsome siege weapon called the ballista.
Katie Thorn, Forestry Commission Recreation Manager, said:
“The Romans may be long gone, but you don’t have to look too far in North Yorkshire to see evidence of their occupation. Just up the road from Dalby is Cawthorne marching camp – a huge complex of earthworks where the soldiers were put through their paces. Comitatus put on a fabulous display, offering vivid insights into Roman army and family life.”
By 400AD Roman Britain was under threat from Picts from the north and pirates from the sea.
Within a few years the legions had departed for ever leaving the land to its fate and ushering in a period known as the Dark Ages.
Katie Thorn added:
“Comitatus will also explain how troops were recruited and what they ate, with camp followers baking bread, working leather and showing medical treatments.”
The free event is based around Dalby Forest Visitor Centre (forest toll applies for cars) and activities run throughout both days. For more information contact 01751 460295.