Watch: See inside Legion: Life in the Roman Army at the British Museum - how to get tickets

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Video: With Legion: Life in the Roman Army opening this week at the British Museum, LondonWorld takes a look around.

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.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

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.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Horrible Histories' Rattus at the British Museum's Legion: Life in the Roman Army.Horrible Histories' Rattus at the British Museum's Legion: Life in the Roman Army.
Horrible Histories' Rattus at the British Museum's Legion: Life in the Roman Army. | Horrible Histories/British Museum

Horrible Histories

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.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Tickets are £22 for an adult during the week or £25 on weekends. Book via the British Museum website. Children under 16 can enter free when accompanied by an adult.

The exhibition is supported by Graham and Joanna Barker, Hugh and Catherine Stevenson and Christian Levett.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.