Typical 3rd Century Auxiliary in ring mail. 3rd Century store room. Casein painted shield.
Cohors Quinta Gallorum is the name of a third century Roman re-enactment society based at the Roman fort of Arbeia at South Shields. The group recreates both the military and civilian life of the early third century (around 230 A.D). This period is neither early or late empire and reflects the changes which occurred from the late second to the late third century in the clothes, equipment, weapons and personal belongings of the soldiers and civilians.
The unit is named after the auxiliary cohort based at Arbeia throughout the third century. The third century auxiliary soldier’s appearance is very different to that of the early empire. The soldiers wear boots, socks, trousers, long sleeved tunics and cloaks held on with bronze broaches. The military belt changes to a simple ring buckle. Large heavy helmets are worn which cover the neck and chin completely. Ring and scale mail are the most common types of armour. Longer swords are used, hung on the left side by a large wide baldric (leather strap over the shoulder). The shield is large and oval, covering the front of the body. Other weapons include Longer stabbing spears, short swords or daggers, short javelins and darts.
The group recreates a variety of equipment from this time period based on archaeological evidence using the same materials as best as possible to create a realistic appearance. The styles of equipment vary from a variety of different swords, variations of the same helmet plus other forms of head gear and different body armour such as ring mail, ring mail with bronze chest plates, small to large scale mail and even locked scale mail.
The civilian side of the group dress in the clothes typical of the northern frontier of Western Europe. The styles in themselves are very different to that of classical Rome and show what it was really like for someone who lived on the frontier in the small villages and towns during the height of the Roman occupation.
The group has been conducting experiments over the last ten years. These include; hand held throwing stones, throwing short javelins and darts, slings and manufacture of lead sling shots, making shields, painting shields, under armour padding, make-up and cooking. Most of the finds from these experiments are published in the Arbeia Journal.
During events the auxiliary soldiers demonstrate the equipment, weapons and tactics of the third century. They show the different styles of clothing and equipment, explaining the changes and re-educating the public on their perceived image of Roman soldiers who garrisoned Hadrian’s Wall (quite often people are surprised to see Roman soldiers who look so different to what they expected as most general history books show later Romans to look the same as they did in the first century). Basic tactics of the shield wall are shown with demonstration of training, practice sword fighting with double weighed wooded swords, practice javelin skirmishing and throwing real javelins at target ( this is the fun part as the soldiers compete against each other!).
The civilian side of the group consists of the soldier’s families and people who would have lived in the village outside the fort. Demonstration of family life includes cooking, painting, make-up, entertainment, toys, marriage, writing and religion. This is all shown through the objects which have been recreated, quite often using the same material. These are displayed for the purposes for the public to handle in order to enhance understanding and compare to modern life.
The short name of our group is “Quinta”. Most of our events take place in the north of England, at Arbeia and other forts along Hadrian’s Wall. Quite often Quinta travels around Britain and on a few occasions abroad.
If you would like more information about the group and its activities or would like to join or to hire the group for an event then contact Paul Carrick on his e-mail address.
Auxiliary wearing a suit of small scales with coif. Off duty soldier attaching scale sleeve. 3rd Century Auxiliary.
Under armour padding. Close up of an example of the locked type scales.