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Monday, March 26, 2007


Those fans of J.R.R.T. might be interested to go here

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


This photograph was taken in the churchyard of the tiny church of St Peter and St Paul, Bilsington which is on the escarpment leading down to Romney Marsh . This yew tree must be as old as the church (AD 1292). The reason it appealed to me was that Tennyson's "In Memoriam" came to mind as soon as I saw it.

Monday, March 05, 2007


In winter the Northern Roman Legions stopped campaigning and hunkered down in barracks. (Unless, of course, you were lead by a nutter of a general like Julius Caesar who upset the Gauls by unsportingly carrying on his conquest during the winter months!). However the legionaries were not allowed to relax in camp (idle hands mean devil's work) - this was a time for renovation of kit and building.

The Ermine Street Guard Roman re-enactment group carries on this tradition (hunkering down - not beating up Frenchmen!). We use the winter months to bring our kit up to date - mending and manufacturing (95% of all armour and equipment is made by Guard members themselves).My first personal job was to make a new dagger and scabbard, based on an original example found in Holland. Here is the finished article:
The scabbard (vagina - pronounced "wageena" – hard "g" in Latin) was constructed by pressing out the front plate over a former. Then the design was engraved on it using modern electrical tools (you can only take re-enactment so far!) The Romans then used vitreous enamels to fill the resulting engravings. We cheat and use Araldite glue mixed with the appropriate colour paints. When it cures it is indistinguishable from enamel. The back plate is then soldered on. The hangers are crafted from brass and then rivetted through.

The dagger (pugio – hard "g") blade is crafted from steel bar. The brass handgrips are then rivetted to each side. Under the rivets the Romans fixed cup shaped washers that are the very devil to make. They usually left these plain (see scabbard hangers) but they are crying out to be filled with enamels and sometimes were, hence those on my dagger are filled.

My next job was to make repairs to my armour (lorica segmentata). This wears in two ways.

Firstly, the Shoulder plates (on left in photo ) are connected to the girdle plates (on right)

by brass hooks. There is a lot of weight carried here and they tend to snap after a time

(broken ones are often found on Roman military sites, so we know they had the same problem).

This was a matter of crafting new hooks from brass, grinding off the old rivets and rivetting the new hooks into place. Since this is a fairly frequent job I made up half dozen spares whilst I was at it.

The other job is to replace the leather straps which hold the armour plates together as these wear or rot with sweat. My armour needed the large square piece of leather replaced (photo shows the new piece in situ). Again – a rivetting job.

So there we are – all hunky dory for the new season, when – if the sun shines – I should look something like this


Thursday, March 01, 2007


Sorry to those of you who do not live in England or "down - under". I forgot that you may not know what this concoction is. So, especially for Nea, you can find out all the facts here. Its main ingredient is Brewer's yeast from the manufacture of beer (but non-alcoholic). The Guinness variety uses yeast from Guinness manufacture.