Research And Reconstruction

One of the aims of Comitatus is to conduct research and reconstruction.
By sheer necessity we must carry out quite intensive research to create our clothing, equipment and weaponry. The periods we cover are not well documented, either in historical records or archaeologically. For many, this is one of the great attractions of the Late Roman/Migration era! A great many of the artefacts we use have been especially made, either for us by specialist craftsmen, or by our own members. Everyone is encouraged to explore the period through museum displays, historical narratives, modern text-books and period illustrations to reconstruct a suitable 'impression'. Where possible it is desirable for members to be able to point to part of their wardrobe or kit and refer to its historical inspiration. Good copies of historical originals are a must!

By recreating the past in this way, we learn a great deal about it. Rather than rely on the musings of academics, we can grasp hard facts. We can explore the past viscerally. We can answer questions. How long does an oil lamp burn? How far does a cheiroballista shoot? How long do hobnail boots last on the march? How fast can a loom be operated? What does Roman fish sauce taste like? How reliable is flint & tinder? Can you sew leather using a boar's bristle as a needle? How wide should a tunic be?

This part of the Comitatus website is devoted to some of our reconstructions, in articles and discussions. We are very serious about our work in this field and we have a growing reputation based on our authentic approach to the Late Roman and Germanic period.
Click on the articles in the list below. They are stored as either Internet pages or PDF files.

Reconstruction Archaeology

Reconstruction Archaeology
Our approach to archaeological reconstruction explained.

Historical Leather For Beginners
Discussion of the different uses of leather and its use in armour.

Arrow Head Penitration
A truly objective test examining the effects of the impact of arrow heads.

Basic Leather Tent
On constructing a basic goatskin leather tent, and its practical use.

NEW Crambeck Pottery Face Jugs
An introduction to reconstructed crambeck ware.

Portraying a Roman Civilian

Who Am I?
Creating an historical identity that has meaning, authenticity and a good name! In two parts.

Bags and Baggage
Some ideas for manly manbags for Roman men. And Ladies.

In their Shoes
A quick tiptoe through the types of Roman footwear.

Daily Life

Roman Shaving - The Tonsor
Looking into the world of roman shaving.

The Writing on the Wall
Reconstructing Roman scripts circa 400 AD.

Cooking Fish
An experiment, iron-age style, cooking fish in clay on an open fire.

Cooking With a Clay Pot
Advice and notes on this delicate art, from Lee and Sarah Steele.

Roman Bread Oven
A quick look at a Roman bread oven experiment undertaken at Heron Corn Mill during the summer 2005. With photographs.

Portraying a Soldier

Portraying the Legionary
Historical background for members of the Legio Praesidiensis, by J. Conyard

Mars Triumphant - Late Roman Drill
How Comitatus recreates Late Roman drill, put into context with drill from earlier and later periods. By J.Conyard.

The Soldier Shelter
Paul Elliott’s guide to creating a cheap and simple marching shelter, as depicted in a 6thC manuscript, the Vienna Genesis.

Legionary Rations
Short discussion on the rations carried by legionaries on the march by P. Elliott.

Brooches & Belts - A reassessment
Looking at regional styles in C4th Britain.

The Dorchester-on-Thames Belt & the Soldier that wore it
An in-depth assessment of the social context of the most famous Late Roman belt set, proposing a credible reconstruction of the life of the owner by Paul Browne

The Manica in the Roman Army up to 150 AD
This article aims to pull together the many excellent articles and book chapters on the manica in early Imperial Roman times (0-150 AD) , and to give amateur historians and re-enactors alike an easily referenced article on the manica - what it is, when it was used, and some thoughts about how it could be re-constructed.

Fourth Century Roman Military Knives
A discussion of the evidence for the form, size and use of knives at the end of Roman Britain.

Self-bows and Composite bows
This article talks about the use of bows in the military.

The Comitatus Ballista - 'Constantine'
Commissioned for 2006, this iron-frame bolt-shooter is based on Late Roman finds and is an accurate full-scale replica. An exciting new addition to the Legio Praesidiensis.

Casting Roman Sling Shot
Creating Roman lead sling bullets using clay moulds, by P. Elliott.

Guidelines for the Use of Plumbatae
A short account of one man's experience with the plumbata, the Late Roman throwing dart. These weapons are a distinct feature of Late Roman warfare, but can be tricky to use.

Building a planked shield
Step by step information on making a planked shield.

Saint George
Portrayals of St George from Roman to 15th Century.

Marching in Authentic Kit

Cross-Country Marching
Why we experiment with cross-country marches, different loads, types of terrain and objectives.
With a complete list of marches to-date.

Antonius Walks the Wall
Anthony Shelmerdine's authentic 85-mile charity walk along the length of the wall, raising money for Cancer Research UK, October 2008.

The Hadrian's Wall Walk
A two day authentic camping & marching experiment along Hadrian's Wall in full kit, by P.Elliott October 2005

Return to the Wall
Comitatus attempts an 11 mile patrol along the most rugged section of Hadrian's Wall in September 2006

The Ultimate - The Wall Revisited
October 2007

Wall Walk IV
18 miles marching over Cawfields, Haltwhistle Burn, Great Chesters and Milking Gap, September 2008.

The Piercebridge Walk
Studying the site, and an 8-mile river route March 2007.

The Moors Walk
Three-man march across the North Yorkshire Moors from Goathland to the Cawthorn Marching Camps, with a complete three-day kit, rations and tent. April 2006

Climbing Scafell Pike
Five Comitatus members climb England's highest mountain in light infantry kit, by P. Elliott. January 2005.

Wall Walk V
Six Comitatus members camp and march along the wall. September 2009

Wall Walk VI
Four Comitatus members march along the wall and camp for two nights. September 2010

Wall Walk VII
Four Comitatus members march along the wall and camp for one night. October 2011

Wall Walk VIII
Comitatus members march along the wall and camp for two nights. September 2012

History Of The Local Area

Roman Bridlington
An article considering some of the Roman finds in Bridlington. The location of Praesidium?

Where is the Fort Called Praesidium?
Discussing the location of the fortress Praesidium, somewhere in Yorkshire.

Map of Northern England in Roman Britain 400AD
Based on archaeology, epigraphy, literature and some extrapolation on my part, this is a map of northern Britain (Britannia Secunda) in 400AD and includes roads, villas, forts, kilns, towns and an all-Roman naming convention.

End Of Year Reports

End Of Year Report - November 2012
A report of the group's activities over the last year.

Group Info

Tunic Construction
Dos and don'ts when making 4th century tunics by John Conyard.

Combat in Comitatus
Why we put on combat displays, what we do and how we do it. It discusses the merits of sharp weapons as well as maintaining a discipline in weapons practice. The article touches on every weapon type used by the group.