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The Romans in Britain

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The Roman Army

 

Also on this page:
Army Camps
War Machines

The Roman Empire grew strong because it had a very good army to help conquer and later control all the other lands.

The Roman Army was successful because it was better equipped and organised than any army had been before.

The Roman Soldier

The Roman soldier was a professional soldier. This means that he joined the army for 25 years and would be paid a salary.

A part of his wages was paid in salt, hence the saying 'being worth your salt' -- (a good worker).

A soldier belonged to a Legion which had about 5,000 or 6,000 men. Each legion was divided into companies of 80 men called Centuries.

Each legion had a standard that had badges on it from all the battles the legion had won.

A Centurion was the man in charge of a century.

As a professional soldier, he spent most of the time training and kept his uniform clean and smart. As well as being first class fighters, the legionaries were good engineers and craftsmen.

There were also other regiments called Auxilia. These soldiers came from the tribes which the Romans had conquered. Their job was to help the legions.

They had to fight in front of the Roman soldiers to protect them from attack. So they got killed first. They were divided into groups of about 500 or 1000 men called Cohorts.


Archers

Each company of the army would have some archers. Their bows were made of horn and sinew. They could shoot a very long way and were very accurate.

Chariots

The fast fighting chariots made the Romans a formidable fighting force. Light weight chariots were used for racing and training.


Army Camps

To keep Britain under Roman rule the Army built over a hundred camps in all parts of the country.

Each camp would be a defensive site that would have everything they would need to live a settled life.

Each camp would be rectangular, protected by a ditch and a wall. The soldiers would live in wooden huts built in straight rows.

When they were marching from one place to another the soldiers had to build a camp every night. Then they would sleep in tents pitched in neat rows.


War Machines


The Army had special equipment to help them.

They had large war machine like catapults called ballista that fired arrows and a sort of giant catapult that fired massive pieces of rock.

The Romans were so good at inventing things that they made the first machine gun - which could fire many bolts a minute. No-one invented another machine gun for over 1900 years!

The army also used special sheds and towers. The sheds gave them protection as they dug under walls and the towers helped them climb high walls and battlements.


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