Watch: See inside Legion: Life in the Roman Army at the British Museum - how to get tickets
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A new exhibition at the British Museum looks at what it was like to serve in the Roman legions.
Legion: Life in the Roman Army runs from February 1 to June 23 and explores daily life for the men, women and children who were part of the military machine.
The exhibition is made up of more than 200 objects and features iconic Roman military objects alongside contemporary evidence of the real lives of men, women, and children – citizens and non-citizens, free or enslaved – in forts and frontiers across the empire.
Many of the items will be on display in the UK for the first time, including the world’s only intact legionary shield - on its maiden loan from Yale - and the oldest and most complete classic Roman segmental body armour, unearthed from the battlefield at Kalkriese (Germany) in 2018.
One standout exhibit includes the remains of a soldier found at Herculaneum, who will be reunited with his belt and equipment for the first time outside Italy. He is believed to be one of the marines commanded by Pliny the Elder and caught up in the eruption of Vesuvius while attempting to help citizens flee.
The neighbouring site of Pompeii will contribute military gear – including a trumpet, sword and standard. Richard Abdy, curator of Roman and Iron Age coins, said: “This is a really exciting opportunity to present an epic subject on a human scale. Sword and sandals, helmet and shield are all on parade here as would be expected, but told through often ordinary individuals, unfamiliar stories can also help us to understand the deceptively familiar figure of the Roman legionary. Every soldier has a story; it’s incredible that these tales are nearly 2000 years old.”
The British Museum has partnered with Horrible Histories author Terry Deary and illustrator Martin Brown to engage children at Legion: Life in the Roman Army.
Through a Horrible Histories trail of the exhibition, alongside a variety of family interactive stations, children of all ages are guided through the show, led by Horrible Histories character Rattus.
Rattus, renamed Claudius Terrattus for the exhibition, will take younger visitors on his journey of becoming a soldier in the Roman army and the trials and tribulations faced by those serving 2,000 years ago.
Legion: Life in the Roman Army tickets
Legion: Life in the Roman Army will run from February 1 to June 23 in the Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery at the British Museum.
The exhibition is supported by Graham and Joanna Barker, Hugh and Catherine Stevenson and Christian Levett.