Who Can Join?
We are always open to new recruits. Members of the public frequently join us as members after seeing the displays.
Members come from all walks of life and are of all ages.
However we all have an interest in Late Antiquity, and have a reputation for fun and enjoying what we do. Single members and families are all equally welcome.
Membership Gives You...
- A full set of kit and equipment so that you can take part immediately, and even a simple tent.
- The opportunity to camp at various beautiful historic locations, not easily accessed by others.
- Access to our exclusive online forum, with vast information and guidance.
- Several newsletters each year.
- Access kit made exclusively for members, by members.
- Public liability insurance cover at our events.
- To better understand historical daily life by experiencing it in as authentic a way as possible.
- To bring an evidence-based approach to re-enactment inspired by experimental archaeology.
- To conduct research and inform the public about the often overlooked period of British history of the 4th -5th centuries at the transition of Roman to Post-Roman Britain and on into the Early Medieval period.
- To enjoy fun, relaxing weekends away from the high-tech pressures of modern life in some of the most beautiful Roman sites in the country.
Comitatus members have the opportunity not just to visit beautiful sites of historic interest, but to do things that other people can only dream about.
Members take part in cross-country marches, often involving camping, to test their equipment and often themselves! Itís not compulsory, but it is a great experience. We do this to prove our equipment is not just fancy dress, but capable of coping with harsh conditions and difficult environments. It is important to demonstrate that our clothing actually works.
We also recreate Roman horsemanship riding as Romans in period saddles and in period style. We have recreated the weapons of the Roman cavalry, and as well as riding for fun, use the skills of those involved during public displays.
Comitatus also operates an iron framed ballista, probably the most powerful piece of Roman artillery in the country. Members have also rowed various craft from coracles to long ships. Frankly if the Romans did it we endeavour to try it!
Most of our members camp in authentic tents, using authentic equipment, and eat together using period recipes. This helps foster a real sense of camaraderie, and lots of good friends can be made. This is one of the real reasons why the hobby of re-enactment is so popular, and yet one of the hardest things to describe.
You will not be forced into portraying any particular role or social type. This is a hobby and we do it for fun! However there are lots of opportunities to experience a whole range of activities connected to the period. Members are positively encouraged to learn new skills such as archery, wood, bone, leather or metal work.
The equipment used by the society is recreated by its members using modern and period tools, but using accurate materials copying actual archaeological finds. We try and reconstruct the find, and discover how it was used in context. Members have lectured on topics as diverse as pottery and horse archery!
We practise period crafts including cookery, dyeing, weaving, basketry, bone & antler work, woodwork & blacksmithing. There are lots of opportunities to experience a whole range of activities connected to each period and members are positively encouraged to learn new skills such as copper or leatherworking.
We try and increase the publicís knowledge and appreciation of our period by using as many of the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures of the period as the law permits!
Members have appeared at various locations across the country for a host of clients including National Trust, English Heritage, Time Team, York Archaeological Trust, York Minster and various Museum Trusts.
Your First Event
As a new member we make it as easy as possible for you to get started. We are happy to lend you clothing and kit, and will ensure that all the equipment you need for that event will be provided.
Check out the events section to see if you can meet up with us at a show.
Then e-mail us in advance so we can arrange your clothing, weaponry and perhaps even somewhere to sleep. Just bring an open mind and some enthusiasm!
We can then provide you with patterns and have a wealth of information to get you started on your own kit.
What We Recreate
We endeavour to recreate Roman life of the fourth century AD.
We not only aim to re-create the physical appearance of our forebears, but also the crafts and skills of the period. These give us a fascinating glimpse of the twilight years of the Western Roman Empire, from Constantine until the departure of the field armies in the early fifth century.
The Late Roman Period
We define this as from the proclaiming of Constantine I at York in 306 AD; to the acknowledged date for the departure of the last Roman field army from Britain in 410 AD. We portray the typical garrison troops or limitanei who were stationed in York and on the Wall, keeping the northern frontier against both land and sea-born raids. Many would be Germans serving in the Roman army.
These troops received land grants at the end of their service. Their sons generally served in the same units after them. This gave rise to soldiers having strong links with the local area.
We choose to depict soldiers and their families serving with the Praesidienses, a legion possibly named after the fort once called Praesidium. This was a fort under the control of the Dux based in York, probably located close to Bridlington but now lost to coastal erosion. The men were likely to be part time soldiers, working at crafts or trades in the morning, drilling in the afternoon. This allows for our members to demonstrate crafts and skills from the period, such as bone and woodworking, cooking, leatherwork and pottery.
Members also portray the Taifali, an elite cavalry unit of the mobile field army. We portray not just the equipment and tack of the Roman cavalry, but the actual tactics and skill used.
The group actively aims to research the period, and develop the knowledge of both members and the public through reconstruction archaeology.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to attend all the events?
You are encouraged to try to attend all of the events and support the group, but it isn't the real army!
Do I have to camp?
We camp at every event, most in authentic tents, some in modern 'plastic' tents. You can do either.
Does it cost me anything?
You must pay your £10 membership (which will cover access to all the amazing places we go, plus your insurance). We can loan you kit and equipment so you do not have to rush out and buy things straight away. But then when you are ready you begin to assemble your kit. What you buy is up to you. The minimum is just a set of civilian clothing, which you can make yourself.
I'm shy. Do I have to talk to the public?
No, not at all. Some of us are better at talking to the public than others. No-one is forced to talk to the public. If the public 'collar you' then you can hand-them over to a more experienced member of Comitatus.
Do we allow women to dress as men and fight?
Yes! We believe everyone should be able to enjoy our hobby to the full. Women do portray legionaries within Comitatus, but they must work hard to look the part.
Do I need a relevant re-enactment skill?
Nope. A skill, such as leather-working, bone-working, weaving or dyeing is a bonus. Just being there, helping out in the arena or around camp, or talking to the public is an asset in itself. Members are all willing to share their knowledge, and you can pick up a craft quickly with our help.
What's the point of re-enactment?
Ask each reenactor and you will get lots of answers. The chance to talk to the public about your passion - history; a chance to use replica historical weapons in combat; the chance to eat, sleep and drink as people did historically away from the concerns of the 21st century; the chance to create objects from history with your own hands; the chance to sleep within the ruins of a Roman fort; or feast inside a replica Saxon hall. Believe us, there are many (and varied!) reasons to re-enact!
How Much Does It Cost?
Full Membership runs for 12 Months from January of each year.
Weekend Membership is available for the cautious and children under 18 can come along for free!
Weekend Membership: £5.00
You can pay by cash, cheque or online with PayPal.
Remember that advice, information and answers to any of your queries can be found by emailing us.