Its 1600 years since the end of Roman rule in Britain – 410 is the traditional date for what has become one of the great turning points in British History. South Dorset's Roman Heritage was celebrated with a festival on 22nd and 23rd May.
Around 1400 people visited Maumbury Rings over the weekend to experience more about life in Roman Britain. Demonstrations of Roman domestic and military life took place alongside workshops, storytellers and displays. The town’s former Roman Amphitheatre came alive with the sounds of steel and armour and a centurion shouting commands in Latin.
The festival began when a troop of Roman Legionaries and Auxiliary soldiers from Living History groupLegio II Augusta marched along South Street and continued with military and gladiatorial displays inside the arena. Children who took part in the Gladiatorial display made the most of the opportunity to challenge the gladiators and then their parents to a ‘sword fight’. Fortunately the ‘swords’ were made of foam and no serious injuries were inflicted!
Staff and volunteers from the Dorset CountyMuseum were on site with a small display of very special Roman objects found in Dorchester. A beautiful ivory sword handle proved of great interest to today’s ‘Romans’. Members of the Ancient Wessex Network were kept busy with jewellery making and soap carving workshops. Storytellers Margie Barbour (Saturday) and Graham Rogers (Sunday) thrilled young and old with tales of ancient Rome, and Ben Kane impressed us all with his best-selling novels The Forgotten Legion and The Silver Eagle.
Not to be outdone 240 children from schools across Dorset took part in two days of Roman-themed activities at the Roman Town House. Members of Legio II Augusta were joined by staff from Dorset County Museum and Dorset County Council at Roman Revels, a day of workshop activities for the children to enjoy and discover more about Roman-Britain.
The festival was organised by Dorchester Town Council, Dorset AONB, Dorchester Roman Town House and Dorset County Museum and was supported by the Dorchester BID.
For more information about the 410 anniversary visit the website