Birmingham Museums for Kids

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Roman Empire - Investigate a Roman Soldier

Cartoon head of Julius Caesar

The Roman Empire grew so quickly because of its large and skilful army. A soldier's life was very tough, they were well armed and trained for dangerous battles. Let's find out what they wore.

A Cartoon Drawing of a Metal Jacket

Metal Jacket

This flexible armour was made up of metal strips held together with metal ties. They were so heavy that soldiers had to help each other to put them on.

A Cartoon Drawing of a Red Tunic


The tunic was worn underneath the armour. This was made of rough wool and reached down to the middle of the thigh. It was not until later that short trousers were worn down below!

A Cartoon Drawing of Leather Sandals

Sandals (caligae)

These sandals were designed to help the Romans march for long distances. They were strong, well ventilated and allowed the soldiers to march very quickly. The sandals often had metal studs at the bottom to make them last longer.

A Cartoon Drawing of a Metal Belt

A Belt (cingulum)

The decorated leather strips gave protection during a battle. These belts jangled as the army marched to scare the enemy. The most important soldiers wore the nicest, most expensive belts.

A Cartoon Drawing of a Sword and Leather Strap

A Sword (Gladius)

This short sword was also called a 'Gladius' and it was a terrible stabbing weapon. The soldiers could use them easily in the crush of a battle.

A Cartoon of a Soldier's Equipment Pack


Each man had a heavy pack with a tool kit, a dish and a pan. The pack held personal items and 3 day's food rations. They may have also carried things like a cloak and a leather bottle for water or wine.

A Cartoon of a Centurion's Helmet and Crest


Centurions and other Officers wore crests on the top of their helmets so that the other men could follow them in battle. The helmets helped to protect the head, face and neck in a battle.

A Cartoon of a Javelin

A Javelin

These had a sharp point to pierce shields and armour. Groups of soldiers would throw their javelins through the air at the same time in order to break the enemies charge.


Real Roman Artefacts

Birmingham Museum has lots of facinating objects that were once used in the time of the Roman Empire. A few examples are listed below:


A Hercules Figurine

This is a figure of the god Hercules. He is about 12cm tall and made from bronze. He used to hold a club in his right hand, but this has broken off.

Hercules was very popular god in the Roman Empire especially in Britain. Lots of figures like this were left as gifts in temples or may have been kept in homes as ornaments that people prayed to.

A Photo of a Hercules Figurine

A Roman Sling Bullet

Both Romans and Greeks used bullets in battle. They fired them using a sling. This bullet is made from lead so it is quite heavy, others were made from stones or clay balls.

Some bullets had little messages for the enemy marked on them. This bullet has the Roman name Musaeus on it but we can't quite make out the rest.

A Lead Bullet

A Mystery Roman Object

This strange object is made of bronze. It has 12 sides. Each side is a pentagon shape with a hole in the middle. On every corner except one, there is a little ball.

Objects like this have been found on Roman sites in Britain. People don't really know what they were used for. Maybe a candle holder? Maybe a dice? What do you think?

A Mystery Object

A Roman Tombstone

This is a square stone used to mark a grave. The carved writing says: 'To the departed spirits. Chrysopolis, his sister, set this up for her most dutiful brother Dionysius, who lived for 21 years'.

We think that Chrysopolis and Dionysius were probably slaves. It was fashionable to give slaves Greek names like this. Roman people had names like Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (for a man) and Aurelia Antonina (for a woman).

A Roman Tombstone


Printable Roman activities | The Roman timeline


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