Romans in Britain
Tastes of History for All
Dining with Apicius
The popular representation of Roman dining is that of reclining on benches enjoying a buffet style meal. This image, however, only really reflects the practice of wealthier families, those who could afford a home with a triclinium (dining room) and slaves to prepare, cook and serve them. So, what of the ordinary city folk? What was their dining experience?
Walk through the remains of ancient Pompeii, Herculaneum or Ostia and you will encounter some form of food or drink outlet on virtually every street corner. They are easily recognisable from their distinctive masonry counters, which in fancier restaurants, taverns and inns might be decorated with frescoes. Based on the numerous examples in Pompeii, Tastes Of History’s display recreates a commercial establishment known as a thermopolium where it was possible for passing Romans to purchase drinks and ready-to-eat food.
Our cookery demonstration will prepare and cook the foods known to the Romans many of which they introduced to Britain. Never an easy task at outdoor venues on wood or charcoal fires, we use reproduction utensils and kitchenware to produce a selection of dishes drawn directly from or inspired by the Roman gastronome known to us today as Apicus. Tastes Of History’s light-hearted yet practical and informative demonstrations offer everyone, from the expert cook to the complete beginner, the opportunity to learn that much of what we do today - ingredients, cooking methods and even menus - were pioneered by the Romans. You might even get to sample our ‘Tastes of History’.
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Meet a Centurion and his Wife
Taken together, Jill and Mark of Tastes Of History have more than forty years of experience portraying ‘Romans’ in schools and at historical events across Great Britain and in Europe. We love sharing what we have learned especially from the successes and failures in our practical experimentation and reconstruction projects.
Life in the Legions Find out more about the Roman army from ‘Lvcivs Cavpvrnivs Pvdens’ (Mark), a Centurion serving with Legio XIIII Gemina Martia Victrix (the 14th Legion) one of the legions that conquered Britain.
Learn more about his weapons, armour and equipment.
Try on a helmet, mail shirt and soldier’s belt.
Could you carry full-sized shield all day and wield it in battle?
What about a 20-mile march in full kit with a marching pack, could you do it?
Have a go at Roman army drill (as described below).
Life on the Frontier At the same time discover what life was like for women, their children and menfolk on the frontiers of Empire. Chat with ‘Avrelia Cavla’ (Jill) about her experiences living at Great Chesters Fort on Hadrian’s Wall.
Learn about the foods and spices the Romans introduced to Britain. Which ones might you recognise today?
Dress as a Roman lady. Chat about the latest fashions, cosmetics and hairstyles.
Discover your place in Roman society. What might it have been like for slaves and ordinary freeborn women, men and their children compared to the wealthiest Romans?
Help ‘Avrelia’ plan a Roman wedding (or, alternatively, a funeral).
for more of our period displays...
Join the Roman Army (Children's Drill)
Aimed at the younger members of the audience, ‘would you survive as a soldier of Rome?’ Pick up a simple wooden ‘shield’ and a small ‘sword’ and be prepared to learn Roman army foot drill and practice some battle tactics. You will also be learning words in a new language as all the Centurion’s commands are given in Latin*.
Get it right...or risk experiencing Roman army discipline first-hand!
The aim of drill is to produce a soldier who is proud, alert and obedient. It also provides the basis of teamwork.
Tastes Of History’s aim is to develop teamwork. Individual children will be encouraged to work and co-operate with others just as the many soldiers recruited from across the Empire’s provinces had to do. The whole experience will conclude with parents testing the teamwork of the Roman army’s newest detachment.
* Accompanied by explanations in English.