Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Monty on Tour: Roemertage 2014 in Xanten

Last weekend we took a trip to the past. At the archaeological open air museum in Xanten the Roman Days 2014 took place and a couple of friends and we - meaning dear Mrs Monty, our daughter Viktoria and me - went there to enjoy a wonderful and interesting spring day.

Actually the museum is always worth a visit for itself. During the last decades they set up a rebuilt Roman village with a lot of facilities of daily life. Combined with a well-assorted exhibition of excavation finds it's a good place to go for anyone who is interested in Roman history for all age groups. Althrough the year there are small weekend activities with craftsmen showing their arts but once a year a large gathering of Roman reenactors from whole Europe takes place: The Römertage (Roman Days).

We arrived at the APX rather early and entered the show optimistically. The first demonstration didn't disappoint us at all. In the amphitheatre the gladiator group Amor Mortis presented their arts. They had different gladiators enter the arena and revealed their skills in more or less real fights with blunt weapons:
Entry of the gladiators
Two Essedarii fighting with javelins, shields and daggers.
Two Provocatores with scuta (shields) and gladii (Roman short swords).

Thraex thrusting with his sica (bent sword) against Murmillo

The nimble Retiaruis fighting with his trident against the heavier Secutor.

Hoplomachus against the heavy Murmillo called Hector.
It was an excellent demonstration of about half an hour. Very entertaining for the kids and very interesting for the older spectators. And besides all it was great fun to get a feeling for this ancient kind of sports. I think there was no one who could refuse cheering the fighters in the arena. During all this cheering and taking photos I lost the threat for all the different galdiators. I hope to have reproduced their types correctly.

Afterwards we took a walk around and had a look at the different tents and stalls. Excellent goods were presented there and we had some very tasty Roman bread. Fortunately we arrived at another demonstration site just in time to see some legionairs of the I. Roemercohorte Opladen demonstration Roman artillery. They fired only with reduced force for security reasons but it was very impressive to see what those ancient weapons performed anyway.
A Roman Scorpio and the smaller Manuballista

Their showpiece: Reproduction of a Roman Ballista.

The Ballista firing a stone ball.
Then we yielded to our children and spent an hour on the excellent playground within the museum. It resembles a Roman Castellum and is an awesome place for children of every age.

Now it was time to change military branches. On another field the group Timetrotter gave a demonstration of Roman cavalry tactics:

Please be aware, that they do reserve the rights for commercial use of any photos showing them. Just contact them in case that you have any plan to use their pictures.

On our way to the next demonstration we wanted to visit we crossed the way of the triumphal march returning from the theatre. They looked so gorgeous:
The Legio XI from Switzerland and southern Germany.

The Ermine Street Guard from the UK
The last topic for us was the demontration of the Ermine Street Guard, a large reenactment group based in the UK. On the field they gathered with two smaller groups from Belgium and Italy and formed a Roman Centuria nearly at full strength. Then they explained the equipment of Roman Legionairs and demonstrated their fighting tactics and different battle formations. With so many splendedly dressed men it was a magnificent look:
The Centuria marching in.

The famous Testudo.

The Centuria in line formation.
Charge in wedge formation.
After this excellent day we were all rather tired. After another visit at the playground we set sail towards home. As last waypoint we stopped at the Roman Taverna within the museum park and had dinner. They offer different dishes after contemporary and Roman recipes. Of course we crowned the day with Roman appetisers and pork rost.

All in all the day was simply perfect. Some great time with good friends, entertained children and bloody interesting history stuff. Xanten is worth a visit for anyone interested in Roman history anyway but those Roemertage should be a thrilling experience for less interested people as well. The only thing I missed in Xanten is a nice group shot of our party.

If you're interested in more pictures of this great event then have a look at the pages of the groups, simply search the internet or visit Burkhard's great blog DHC-Wargames.


  1. Excellent pictures Monty, looked like a great time.

  2. Wow- that looked fantastic. I would have spend all day looking at the ballista - very interesting

    1. Thanks Miles.
      The ballista was a fascinating piece of technological efforts but honestly to watch it shooting was nice but not that spectacular.

  3. That is absolutely fascinating, great pictures Stefan.

  4. Excellent report, really looked a great day


    1. Thanks Ian, honestly a perfect day.

  5. Wonderful stuff! Though it has the Celt in me screaming "Ramanes eunt domus!" ;-)

    1. A classic, Sott ! :-D
      For all who didn't get the point:

  6. Ok, somehow blogspot ate my post! So here we go again!

    Great selection of photos! it is a shame I did not know you were there, would have loved to meet up!

    Glad you saw a full century display. When we saw it, the Street Guard were drilling on their own, which was already impressive enough!

    And thanks for the mention of my blog as well!

    1. Thought the same when I read your article about the fair.
      See you in Antwerp then?

  7. Great fun for the whole family. Thanks for sharing your pictures.

  8. Fine pictures,
    match situations,
    authentic costumes,
    and almost real equipment.
    Thanks to sharing

  9. It looks great! I need to visit one of these days.


  10. What a show! Thanks for sharing, Stefan. The ballista must be a bear to transport, just like in Roman times. ;-)

  11. Nice! Remember some of the LEGIO XXI RAPAX scuta from back when I was doing Re-enactment. Also know some of those guys personally. Nice to see they are still doing that kind of stuff and nice they have got gladiators with them now.

    Great and well chosen pictures!

  12. What an excellent show. Thanks for sharing your great bunch of photos.

  13. Wow, great stuff! Looks like a wonderful time, thanks for all the pics.

  14. Nice pictures!
    The fist two gladiators are essedarii. These gladiators were inspired by celtic chariot drivers. They fight with javlins and gladii.

    1. Thanks for the hint with the essedarii.
      I just edited the post.