Ooh, the vanity. Silvered brass cheek pieces. Helmets topped with double eagles. Shield bosses fashioned into likenesses of Mars, Hercules or Bacchus. Even the horses wore bling, in the form of elegant brass bits, hackamores and pectoral ornaments.
“That’s the cavalry for you,” said Stewart Purdie drily, admiring two priceless Roman helmets in the Great North Museum in Newcastle. “They come in, prance about a bit, then we pick up the pieces.” He’s a Roman re-enactor (infantry, mind) and we met in front of the helmets when he showed me a photo of the dazzling replicas made by his re-enacting group. He has tried one on. It was hot and sweaty, with zero visibility.
Last weekend, a “dispersed exhibition” called Hadrian’s Cavalry opened at 10 sites along Hadrian’s Wall.