Roman soldiers to set up camp in York

This re-enactment event breaks new ground, and should be worth a visit.

From The Press

Roman soldiers to patrol Minster

6:36am Saturday 11th October 2008

By Haydn Lewis »

YORK Minster will be the setting for a Roman invasion this month.

As part of the York Roman Festival, on October 25 and 26 this year, Roman military guards will patrol York Minster undercroft, where once real Roman soldiers would have stood guard.

Re-enactors will be on duty at the remains of the headquarters building in the undercroft of York Minster, where the foundations of the Principia were discovered during the 1967 to 1972 excavations that saved the Minster’s central tower from collapse.

It will be the first time in 1,600 years that Roman soldiers have been on guard there and the troops will be keen to explain the archaeological finds and remains on display to the public.

Keith Mulhearn, festival organiser, said: “To me the undercroft has always been a jewel in York’s history. Anything that helps with it’s promotion and interpretation can only be good and we are very pleased that the Minster is part of the Roman Festival here in York.

“It will be a spine-tingling moment when you meet Roman troops patrolling their original headquarters building underneath York Minster, and they will help visitors understand the real significance of what they are seeing.”

The undercroft is open on the Saturday, from 9.30am to 5pm, and Sunday, from 12.30pm to 5pm.

The Roman Festival weekend will also feature a reading of the Edict Of Milan at the statue of the Emperor Constantine outside the Minster’s south entrance in Deangate. Constantine, who was declared emperor in York in 306AD, issued the edict in 313AD to grant tolerance of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire.

Mr Mulhearn said the festival promised to be a great event. He said: “There’ll be gladiators doing battle, barbarians, Romans, a potter, weaver, wood turner and belly dancers. Things will be kicked off on the Saturday with a march around the city centre starting at Bootham Bar at 11.30am.”

He said all the Romans based in the gardens at the living history camp would be cooking, washing and sleeping there for the duration of the weekend.

This year there will be a night-time event at the camp for which there will be an entry charge, but which will include Roman food and drink.

Howard Mosley, operations administrator at York Minster, said: “We’re really happy to have these creative guys in costume down among the physical history we have here at the Minster. They will be able to give the public their insight and knowledge about the history. We are absolutely thrilled to be a part of the festival and are looking forward to it.”

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