I will always reply to comments and always re-reply to re-replies.

Friday, March 21, 2008


(Click on any image to enlarge)

This time last year I was involved in making a pair of Roman Cavalry Shields . Trouble is, I did too good a job of it and the Society has asked me to paint 6 Auxiliary Infantry Shields for use this year. The design is copied from one shown on Trajan's Column.
A pleasant enough job, painting in a warm dining room (I have an understanding wife) whilst the wind and rain beat against the windows. Now I have finished my part and the shields move on to have the bronze edging (to guard against sword cuts) and the centre bosses fitted.

Here is a finished one in close up. The unit represented is named in the "ansate" at the top (The small rectangular blue label with "ears" which is a feature of Roman inscriptions). It is the First Cohort of Tungrians , troops drawn from what is now modern Belgium - they were once stationed on Hadrian's Wall in the first century AD. The laurel leaves have obvious meaning. The two crescent moons relate to the veneration of Cybele, the Magna Mater or Great Mother.

All done for love and interest, unfortunately. Checking armour makers on the internet shows that such as these go for at least £150 each!

This link will explain how the Auxilia fits into the Roman Army - if you have time to wade through it. But briefly they were locals recruited from outside of Italy, not Roman citizens. (A bit like the native troops recruited by the British Empire). They never served in their own countries, for obvious reasons and were only paid a third of Legionary pay. The bonus was that they were awarded Roman citizenship after their 25 years service - a big deal in those times.

Here is a painting by Society member Graham Sumner of an Auxiliary (Society member Adrian Cook) , using a shield of similar pattern but different colouring.


Nea said...

I was just thinking the same thing, what in the world would it cost them if they actually tried to buy one of these. I have a bit of an idea because my son Nick is a avid sword and shield enthusiast. He has been for years. It all began when he was very young and as he has grown so has his love of swords and shields. so he has branched out from plastic to wood, and now he would love to have metal. It is a bit hard for a Mother to understand this love of
"things that cut", but I do understand the love of things that last....so I love things made of metal. (and rock)

These are lovely, if Nick saw one, he would be gaga over one. I hope that they appreciate your hard work and take care of them. It would be nice to think that they would last for a long, long time.

Nea said...

What am I saying, I also love things that will cut, I have my own knife collection...haha...I guess he got it from me. It is just that I love them for the fact that they have been around for so long, not that I could hurt someone with them. I think little boys would like to poke something.....

Avus said...

Far from appreciating and taking care of these, they will be used and abused, just as shields would have been at the time. But they have to start off "new" at some time. As the maker I have the satisfaction of a good job done, what happens to them later is out of my hands.
As to boys love of knives, etc. Since a child I have been so inclined - it isn't that they could be used to do damage, just the simple beauty of an object crafted for one purpose - fountain pens and watches influence me similarly and they are scarcly objects of aggression!

Lucy said...

Got the shield bug then, Avus!

Nea said...

Ah, of course, these are for their re-enactments no doubt. And will be used.....well, they are built to last so they will take it.....Nick doesn't set his on a shelf either...haha I have bought him a couple at local fairs, although they are not nearly as big or as nice as yours.

I have a thing for clocks and watches also. I like pocket watches the ones with fobs. I wish that I had the money to just buy them and collect them. I go on ebay and look at them, but don't buy them, I have collected things over the years, only to then end up giving them away or selling them. My knife collection is small, but what I have, I enjoy. Oh, I also like locks and keys......the old, really old kind.......for awhile I liked pulleys. The kind you would find on ships.....but they can get kind of heavy, and what do you do with a whole bunch of pulleys, I also used to collect old tools, but I ended up letting my husband keep them during the divorce. I know they meant more to me than to him, though.....I had some really nice old wood planes....and levels.

Avus said...

My Pa was an apprentice-served carpenter and joiner. I inherited his great tool chest with all his life's tools when he died. Many exquisite wooden planes therein.

Secundus said...

Love the shields, great choice of colours. I might have to use your design for my figures.

BigRedBat said...

Lovely painting!

I'm really curious about the shape of the shields; the cavalry shields look much slimmer than the more rounded infantry. Is there particular histrical evidence for that? I can see a logic to it if the cavalry are fighting mainly to the front, and want to protect their chests, left leg and the flank of the horse.