Eboracum 2019

Home from another fantastic Roman Festival in York, and huge thanks to everyone who made it possible – organisers, re-enactors, performers, fellow-scribes and of course to the many visitors, without whom we’d all have been very lonely.

In previous years I’ve put up plenty of photos of men on the march, and they do look spectacular – you can see some here. This year, though, a few pics focusing on the talents of some of the re-enactors in the Living History camp. Without their skills, the troops would have been hungry, cold, ill and broke.


No time to dawdle in the kitchen: there’s a whole camp to feed, and Calor Gas hasn’t been invented yet.


Altering wool so that it’s person-shaped rather than sheep-shaped is a complicated business, and here are some of the ways to do it –

Weaver setting up strands of wool on a wooden loom.
Above – setting up a loom. You can just see the clay weights at the bottom that hold the wool taut.
Blue & white wool braid part-woven and still strung through a wooden frame with alternating holes and slots.
Above – weaving with (I think) a rigid heddle. It’s not easy to get the tension right: I’ve tried.
Weaving by hand-twisting strands held taut on a loom made of bent twigs.
Above – this is called Sprang, and it’s done by twisting the strands around each other. They did it back in Ancient Greece, but please don’t ask me how.
Above – tablet weaving: each slice of wood can be twisted to make patterns.
Display of brightly-coloured, patterned wool braids.
Above – what the experts can achieve.


Display of replica surgical instruments including saws and a bleeding-cup
A fine collection of surgical instruments belonging to…
Re-enactor showing a handwritten scroll to two women.
…Doctor Anicius Ingenuus, who knows what to do with them because he’s made his own copy of Celsus’s book on surgery. That’s Alison Morton admiring it.


Engraved die set up on wooden block. Hammer.
The detail engraved on the die (centre) will turn out back-to-front on the coin.
Another engraved metal die.
The other side of the coin.
Hand holding hammer and hitting the top of the second die.
Put a disc of metal between them, and apply the hammer. (Thanks to Kurt Hunter-Mann for demonstrating)
Money! A coin celebrating Hadrian’s victory in Britain. The kit needed to make coins was very small, which was good for emperors who wanted money minted on their travels, and also handy for forgers.


Re-enactor standing by models of road and aqueduct building, with full-size surveying equipment.
Never mind the emperors and generals – let’s celebrate the engineers. Here are models of how to build an aqueduct and a road, and the full-size surveying equipment you’ll need for both of them.

And finally, this year’s splendid company in the writers’ venue.

If you’d like to join us next year, the Festival will be happening all over again on 29-31 May 2020. Meanwhile, I mislaid my shiny new Roman coin on the way home. It’s not far off the size of a 20p. Quite possibly a catering manager on Crossrail Trains is now wondering what on earth to do with it.

2 thoughts on “Eboracum 2019

  1. Thanks for sharing this Ruth. You clearly had a good and productive time. I look forward to seeing you in a week or two here in Sunny MK!
    Best Regards

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