Posts from the ‘Brian Hobley’ Category

The Trajanic Frieze at the Lunt Fort Scene 1

ROMAN  SOLDIERS  LOAD  THEIR  EQUIPMENT  INTO  BOATS,  READY  TO  CROSS  THE  RIVER  DANUBE  AND  ATTACK  DACIA.

BEHIND  THEM  WE  CAN  SEE  A  WALLED  TOWN  AND  AN  AMPHITHEATRE  WHERE  GLADIATORS  WOULD  FIGHT.

The presence of the amphitheatre indicates that the embarkation is taking place at a major town on the south bank of the Danube,  probably Viminacium or Singidunum, both in the province of Moesia. Trajan’s main strategic objective in this war was Sarmizigethusa, the Dacian capital, situated on the NW slopes of the Montes Sorrorum  (the present-day Transylvanian Alps). Either of these Roman towns would have been good locations to assemble the army and cross the river. We see a group of auxiliary soldiers loading their packs and shields. These men are identified as auxilia the fact that they wear the “lorica hamata”, ring-mail shirts  (and very skimpy ones too!) There is a widespread notion among modern re-enactors that the Roman auxilia carried oval shields – and in general the Frieze supports that view. Yet here we see the dangers of being too dogmatic on these questions. The auxiliaries here clearly use a mixture of the oval “clipeus” and the oblong Legionary “scutum”.

Note also the three splendid Praetorian standards behind a group of Trajan’s generals (always dressed in orange-red on our Frieze.

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Dragon in Coventry

Please excuse the dramatic title but I have just seen a dragon.  I spent today at the Priory and in my short break I was able to read about green men.  We have one at the priory engraved on a piece of stone that lay hidden under Coventry for five centuries.  After this I went to Trinity Church where I was able to look at three others all carved in wood but no less dramatic.  Two spew out leaves and vines and the last one stands in a coat of leaves.  Enthused I returned to work and told Sue.  Sue was interested and then asked me if I had seen the Dragon.  I replied that I had not and she took me to a non-descript piece of stone which as she pointed out elements reveal itself to be a beautiful representation of a sleeping dragon.  With these things they do not appear immediatly but need to be coaxed out with attention and care.  I suddenly saw its eyes, then its snout, its coiled scales and wings all resting in a bed of oakleaves.  Suddenly this thing carved in sandstone by a unknown mason at least eight centuries ago could be nothing other than a snoozing dragon.

Traditionally the dragon is a representation of the devil but this fat creature seems so sweet, so modern and so lifelike as if tired it had slumped into the oakleaves after a long and arduous migration.  I love it and everyone who comes into the museum now has to look at it.

So what has this to do with the Romans, Lunt or my normal jobs.  Well what I want to do is pay tribute to the odd shaped minds possessed by archaeologists and historians who can drag from a few odd bumps on piece of rock and reveal a carving that once graced the halls of a medieval priory.  The same is true to the great Brian Hobley who oversaw the excavation of the Lunt and the inspirational amatur archaeologist Brian Stanley who saw a Roman fort where others only saw a field.  Today I pay tribute to archaeologists everywhere.

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