The Roman Invasion of Britain is a great way to explore issues of:
- identity and image
- power and resistance
- regime change
- the impact upon one culture when it is subjugated by another
This can be done not just in an historical context but also as reflected in more recent human history. It works for KS3 and other National Curriculum levels.
The themes and resources relate to the broader concept of empire. Our starting part is the impact of the Roman Empire on the people living in northern Britain.
Historical Framework: From conquest to Hadrian’s Wall
Provides a brief historical background to the period:
Head of Vespasian (jpg image), image of cast from the British Museum on loan to Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery
‘Shock & Awe' (jpg image) poster (Redman Brothers) from the Eagles Have Landed Exhibition
3D Legionary Helmet
This bronze infantry helmet of the Weisenau type has been dated to the second half of the first century AD. It features a central crest holder at the front of the helmet. This is set into a protective bar. A numerical inscription on the underside may relate to its production. A helmet complete with cheek pieces is very rare. This example shows signs of ancient repair.
Click the image to zoom in and examine it more closely:
Propaganda and Spin: The Introduction of Coins
Reverse of a different coin showing the Christian chi rho symbol (jpg image) signifying that Christianity was now the official state religion
Coin of Domitianus (jpg image), part of a hoard found at Chalgrove, Oxfordshire. Domitianus was emperor for about 1 week in AD 271 but still found it imperative to mint coins.
‘A Closer Look at Coins' (PDF) – for use by students, particularly suited for use during a visit to a Roman site/gallery
‘Looking at Image & Logo' (PDF) - for use by students, aimed to open up a wider discussion of the prevalence and use of images and logos in the present day.
How we construct our reputations (PDF), an article by Lisa Jardine. This explores the construct of reputation and image by present day politicians.
Destruction, Assimilation and Expansion of Beliefs
Altar dedicated to Jupiter (jpg image). The inscription reads:
I O M | To Jupiter, Greatest and Best
COH I HISPAN | First Cohort Hispana
CVI PRA | Commanded by
EST CCAB C | Caballius
PRISCV | Priscus
TRIB | Tribune
‘To Jupiter, the best and greatest, the first cohort of Spaniards, commanded by Caius Caballus Priscus, tribune (erected this)’
D I S | To the shades [of the departed]
VACIA INFANS | Vacia, an infant
AN III | three years [old]
‘To the shades [of the departed] Vacia, and infant aged three years’
Tombstone depicting a victorious cavalryman defeating a British warrior (jpg image), a familiar image denoting the subjugation of the Barbarians by the might of Rome
Dragonesque brooch (jpg image), an example of British design and craftsmanship
Roman pottery (jpg image), an amphora, mortarium and facepot, introduced by the Romans
Parade helmet (jpg image) from Crosby Garret, Cumbria
Searching for the Past
Use images of coins, pots etc from the other sections to support Part 5 of this theme
Texts – The Battle of Mons Graupius, The Evidence of Tacitus, Lists & More Lists
Romans and Tribes
The evidence of Tacituss (PDF): Roman historian writing in the first century AD.
Exploring the Past in our Present
Other avenues to explore (PDF): suggestions of themes and ideas
The Romans through their pots
Samian Ware bowl and cup (jpg image) (replica)
Cooking pot (jpg image) (replica)
Mortarium replica and sherd (jpg image), mortaria were specialised mixing bowls with a rough internal surface used for grinding herbs and spices and a spout for pouring the finished mixture into the cooking pan.
Samian Ware mould fragments (jpg image) Highly decorated bowls were thrown on a wheel and then re-thrown in a mould to create the decorated surface.
Face pot (jpg image) The use of these is uncertain but many were used as cremation urns.
Making pottery coins, amphorus and a Map of the World (PDF) - a creative project based on Gaius the Potter's story.
Lists & More lists (PDF), two lists from Vindolanda, one a list of food distribution
‘The Roman Conquest was a good thing’
Information about and texts from the Vindolanda letters.
- ‘Shock & Awe’ poster, Redman Design, designers of the Eagles Have Landed exhibition and Roman Frontier: Stories Beyond Hadrian’s Wall, gallery at Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery
- Dupondius of Vespasian, Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery
- Denarii, Nottingham University Museum
- Aureus of Vespasian, The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, used with permission
- Coin of Domitianus, The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, used with permission
- Balance scales and weight, tombstones of cavalryman and Vacia, Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery
- Roman pottery, Graham Taylor, Potted History
- Parade helmet from Crosby Garret, Christie’s Auction House
- Altar dedicated to Jupiter, Senhouse Roman Museum
- Bronze saucepan, University of Nottingham Museum
- Samian Ware bowl and cup, Samian Ware plate, cooking pot and shard, mortarium replica and shard, Samian Ware mould fragments, Facepot, all University of Nottingham Museum
- Weaving comb, Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery
- Gaius at his wheel, Ken Lister
The Eagles Have Landed touring exhibition which visited the Roman Gallery at Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery, Carlisle.