On April 24-25 the Legion has been invited to a “military evolution” event at Fort Washington National Park just south of Washington, DC. Yes, this is another multi-period display, right here in our proverbial back yard. It’s been a few years since the Fort has held this event, and they’ve never had Romans before, so it seems to be sort of an experiment. We can start setting up about 10 AM on Saturday, and there will be an opening ceremony at noon. About 5 PM is a “sunset parade”. Sunday will run from 10 to 3 with another parade at closing. It sounds pretty laid back and they are happy with as many people as we can bring. I’ll be there with the tent as usual--I believe overnight camping is allowed, but I better make sure. That’s about as much as I know. Come on out!
Directions: From I-95/495 the Capital Beltway, take Exit 3 onto Rt. 210 South, Indian Head Highway. Go about 4 miles and turn right onto Fort Washington Rd (I believe there’s a traffic light); follow that about 3 more miles and it should take you straight to the park entrance. There is an admission charge for the public, but if you’re a participant just tell them that and they should let you in. We’ll be in a large field next to the parking lot before the visitor center (if that makes any sense).
“WHERE CAN I GET STUFF?”
That is the eternal question of Roman reenacting, and there may be a new answer soon. I was contacted not long ago by Albion Armorers, a new supplier of repro armor and weaponry located in Germantown, MD. They were interested not only in selling us gear, but also in feedback on their products and suggestions about what other items they might offer. Well, my first glance at their website (http://albionarmorers.com) showed the same “Trooper’s Helmet” that Museum Replicas and other places carry, although their gladius was different and they offered a couple very nice 4th century AD helmets. Eventually I got around to writing back to them, with a critique of their Roman items and some info and pictures, with an offer of much more if they really were willing to try to improve their products. Very quickly, the reply came back, starting with “Wow!” They were very adamant about wanting to make their products as authentic as possible, since they were just as sick as us at all the farby stuff flooding the market these days. They were already sending my info on to their suppliers in India (several competitors of Windlass Steel/Museum Replicas), and wanted whatever help I could give them.
Naturally I was flabbergasted, and suspicious and skeptical, knowing how many people have NOT been able to deliver on claims like that. At the same time, we’ve always known that those Indian metalworkers were definitely skilled enough to make the good stuff, given good guidance. And Howard and Amy at Albion kept saying how they wanted to be able to supply very authentic equipment from all the early periods, from Bronze Age onwards, and that they wanted more information. I'll be meeting with them this weekend to give them a better look at what we need (helmets, pilum heads, daggers, and paterae for starters!), and to find out what sort of time frame we're looking at for all this.
For the moment, I'd say that their gladius is better than Museum Replicas (and cheaper), though I have only seen the photograph so far. Its only visible flaws are that the scabbard has full-length side gutters, which I have not seen on any surviving Pompeii scabbard, but they aren't necessarily wrong; and the pommel and guard look a little more Mainz-shaped--again, hardly a major problem! Albion's later Roman helmets are also very good-looking and reasonably priced. I WILL LET YOU KNOW when other Legio XX-certified items are available, so stay tuned!
FIRST TRUMPET--ROMAN DAYS
Yipes, is it that time already? I guess this should really be "Second Trumpet" since the June Adlocvtio won't be out before the event. Anyway, the second annual Roman Days will be held on June 12-13 at Marietta Mansion, and will be open to the public from 10 AM to 4 PM both days. Admission for the general public will be just a buck or two. Merchants are welcome to sell their wares, and there is no fee (that I know of), but please let Susan Wolfe, the site manager, know that you are coming.
The site layout will be similar to last year, including the large pavilion tent, but the military camps will up on the lawn between the house and parking lot to take advantage of the shade. If we need camp fires they can be dug on the other side of the driveway.
Remember, you do NOT need to have any Roman clothing or equipment in order to attend and have fun! This event is open all who have a love of things ancient, whether you are a reenactor, wargamer, collector, scholar, teacher, or you just think Romans are cool. (Which they are, of course.) Kentucky Public Television station KET will be sending a Latin teacher and a camera crew to film parts of the event, mainly for students but possibly for PBS!
TENTATIVE SCHEDULE (Any ideas to add?):
--Arrive and set up on Friday, or Saturday morning.
--Open to the public c. 10 AM to 4 PM Saturday and Sunday.
11 AM, Full muster and opening remarks
12 Noon, Lunch--cooking and eating demos
12 to 2 PM, Various drill and tactical demos, tent tours, etc.
2 PM, Massed tactical and drill demo
4 PM to ?, hobnob, party, forage for food, debate great issues, etc.
11AM, Olympic competition! Armor Race, Pilum Throw, Hamata Toss, Wrestling, various ball games, etc.
Noon, Lunch and rehabilitation
1:00, Massed tactical and drill demo
3:00 PM Closing parade
Facilities: Plenty of
for displays, parking, period or modern camping, etc. Water,
straw, firewood. There will be a 20'x30' tent roof for shade or
protection, mostly for the merchants and table displays, and we can
get some 10'x20' pop-up flies. There are a number of hotels
a few miles.
At the first Roman Days in 1998 we had about 25-30 participants and over 450 spectators. It promises to be bigger in 1999. Besides the usual military camp(s) and our herb-seller display, there will be a table with domestic items, a model villa and fort, perhaps some small artifacts, etc. Also a couple merchants and craftspersons. If you have any ideas or activities to add, please sing out! (Augury? Law court skit? MUSIC?) We don't have to have frantic activity all day long, but I want all participants and visitors to have fun.
It was a pretty typical weekend at Jamestown. Saturday was chilly but dry, and there were lots of visitors. Several Associates and hopeful members came by introduce and get a look at the toys. Our drill demo was well-received as always, and the Park fed us very well that evening. The 20th-century groups had lots of neato vehicles and recorded period music, plus a tin-roofed hut and an observation tower. There is very much an air of one-upsmanship at this event each year!
However, our weather luck was also typical and the promised rain arrived Sunday morning. I dithered for a while, not wanting to cause any trouble by leaving early, but we called it quits before noon and bugged out.
If anyone wants to attend Military Through the Ages next year, I'll pass you the application information when it comes to me. We fielded seven legionaries this time, and our ranks are slowly growing, so there may still be enough interest, but I myself will not be going back. Oh, apparently we won a prize--since we didn't compete in any judged thing it must have been either a Judges' Choice or Participants' Choice award. No word from Jamestown about that yet.
There was horrible sense of deja vu at Marching Through Time, since we got rained out on Sunday! Incredible, ain't it? We set up on Friday and talked to several busloads of enthusiastic school kids. It rained that evening, but Saturday was warm and completely clear. Our civilian ladies had their herb booth set up, and we marched for the crowd shortly after opening time. (We need practice!) A couple more seriously interested people were among the visitors, including none other than Steve Greeley, co-founder and former optio of Dan Peterson's Legio XIIII in Germany. He seemed reasonably impressed with us, and I hope we'll see him again soon, eh, Steve? Thanks for coming out! After the Pass in Review at the end of the day, some mixed-group publicity photos were taken for future events.
Sunday's rain started about 7 AM. Mike and first-timer Owen, having slept in the tent, were leaving as I arrived, and so were many other participants. I hung around for a few hours, since the tent was already soaked and there were actually a few die-hard visitors who wanted to chat. George came by just to pick up the gear he'd left overnight, and the rest of the Legion was smart enough to stay home.
One other word of caution (not to be adding to the negatives): I got a ferocious case of poison ivy on Friday, both arms and legs, presumably while clearing some branches from the back of our rather shallow campsite. Actually it's probably poison oak or sumac, since I've learned after much torment to recognize poison ivy, and I saw none around there. My latest research indicates that if you think you've been exposed to any of these jolly flora, wash immediately with LOTS OF COOL WATER (no soap) to remove the oil from your skin and clothes. I've even got two spots that were covered by my short trousers, so it must have gotten on my tunic and then onto me after I shucked the pants. Needless to say, I'll be doing some laundry, and washing my axe and other items that might have gotten contaminated. Gads...
But like I said, Saturday at least was plenty fun, with 6 legionaries and 3 civilians. Thanks to everyone who turned out to support the Legion.
We finally got a couple new scuta into action, Bill Bennett's and Mike Cope's. Mike decided to try something different, cutting the parts of the emblem out of leather, painting them, and then gluing them to the face. It was sure quicker than just painting--you don't have to worry about staying inside the lines! But I am a little worried that the glue may not hold, and there isn't really any solid evidence for this method. Bill's shield is simply painted, which should remain our "standard" technique from now on. Yes, some of us have way cool metal wings and things, and I have agreed to help Marcus with brass wings for his new scutum, but I think we should try to make those the exception rather than the rule. One of the problems with a metal emblem is tarnish and rust, a major pain, believe me! I made myself a calfskin shield cover to try to keep the raindrops off.
Mike is also sporting his new lorica segmentata (Corbridge type A) from Joe Piela of Lonely Mountain Forge. Joe is now charging $450 for one of those, unfortunately, and his backlog is lengthening. (Help us out, Albion Armorers!) And if you haven't seen the new embossed plates on Tom Kolb's Mainz scabbard, they are also by Joe Piela and simply to die for! (They can be seen on the Lonely Mountain Forge website, http://members.aol.com/gijchar/forge.html) Owen Hutchins was very well turned out in a mailshirt, tunic, caligae, and gladius. George has made 6 palisade stakes, the really thick kind, so our camp is developing a nice prickly perimeter.
BOOK REVIEW by Jane Walker
Ancient Roman Gardens by Linda Farrar. Sutton Publishing Ltd. Great Britain. 1998.
This book contains fascinating, well documented, and well-organized information about many aspects of gardens and gardening in the Roman Republic and Empire. In one chapter, the author describes in detail the seven basic types of ornamental pools favored by the Romans--complete with construction diagrams. The chapter on plants is also extensive, but, whereas with the pools I cried “enough!”, at the end of “Flora and Fauna in Gardens” I still wanted “more!”. Personal bias on the part of the reader! I found the introduction and the chapter on historical background to be too “wordy” for my taste (they also appear not to have been carefully proof-read), but Ms Farrar settles down to concise and interesting documentation of her subject in the body of the book; only occasionally does her undocumented personal opinion slip in. My favorite tidbit from the book is a reference to correspondence (found in Egypt) between a commercial flower grower and a customer; the customer wanted 2000 narcissi and 2000 roses for a wedding, and the grower replied that he could supply over 4000 narcissi but only 1000 roses. Now I love the scent of daffodils, but 4000 of them??? This is an indispensable book for the student of garden history and is a useful reference the student of Roman culture as well.
April 21 --Anniversary of the Founding of Rome, 753 BC. Where's the party?
April 24-25 --Military evolution encampment, Fort Washington, MD
April 30-May 2 --Mithracon II, New Haven, CT. Contact Jane Sibley for more info.
May 29-31 --SCA Quest, New Jersey. We have been invited by the Celtic ladies who did all that fine cooking at Roman Days. Who's in?
June 12-13 --ROMAN DAYS, Marietta Mansion, Glenn Dale, MD. If you only get to one Roman event all year, this is the one! Several other groups will be joining Legio XX, and it will be bigger and better than last time. Massed tacticals, Olympics, merchants, and more. You do not have to be dressed as a Roman to participate and have a great time!
July --Festa Italiano, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. No official invitation yet.
July 31-Aug. 1 --Military Time Line event, Ft. Malden, Ontario (just over the border from Detroit). Bit of drive for most of us, but definitely a good time of year to head north, eh? Is anyone seriously interested?
Sept. 18-19 --Legio III Gallica encampment, New Orleans, Louisiana. Contact Darren Nunez for more information: 504---
Sept. 24-26 --Roman Military Equipment Conference, South Shields, Eng. See the ROMEC website for details, http://pobox.com/~jrmes/romec.htm
ADLOCVTIO is the official monthly newsletter of the Twentieth Legion, Inc. Has everyone properly rendered unto Caesar? I think the old publicani would be preferable to all these cockamamie forms. If you wish to tax your Editor/Commander with questions or contributions, direct them to: Matthew Amt (Quintus). * S * P * Q * R *