What did Eboracum Roman Festival do for me?

Apologies to Monty Python for cannibalising their line, but what was a Roma Novan doing at the Roman festival last weekend in York? Being Roman, that’s what.

Three days of immersed in Roman life and not having to explain that you are slightly crazy.
Three days of sharing, laughing and learning about our favourite time period.
And three days of watching men with muscular legs in short tunics…

Let’s be slightly more serious…
A symposium, or in plainer language, a series of talks ,“Romans in the North” was held on Friday in the Hospitium, an impressive medieval guest house in the York Museum Gardens.

I thoroughly enjoyed excellent academic, yet accessible, talks – a real opportunity to hear nitty gritty about the Yorkshire Museum’s own collections, digs within York and around the city, death and burial, the Portable Antiquities Scheme, plus the hunt for a lost Humber port, volution of the museum at Corbridge and the science behind painting and pigmentation on plaques from the builders of Hadrian’s Wall. Fascinating how much Roman burials varied and what wealth of information each tiny detail can yield. But that’s archaeology! 

That evening, a walk around the fortress walls, led by Kurt Hunter Mann showed us that although the medieval city dominated York’s development, significant parts of the Roman walls were visible, although so much of Roman York was now underground. But the Roman street grid still persists despite the medieval overlay. (You can’t keep a good ( or bad) Roman down!)

Authors! Books! Fun!
Saturday saw the authors set up camp in the Hospitium for two days where we talked books, writing, dodgy emperors, murder, conspiracy, and who had terminated the most characters. Much more sensible were conversations with readers who visited our ‘bookroom’. Who were the authors? Simon Turney, Ruth Downie, Jane Finnis, LJ Trafford. Alex Gough, Paul Chrystal and moi (More about them here). 

I did have to explain myself to more than one puzzled visitor who gave a puzzled look at my Roma Nova 21st century Praetorian Guard indoor uniform and when walking around was asked several times “What kind of Roman are you, then?”

The troops are mustering...

The troops are mustering…

Troops being organised...

Troops being organised…

And they're off to march into York!

And they’re off to march into York!

The boys in blue

The boys in blue

Roman games

Roman games

Not just about waving your gladius

Not just about waving your gladius

Getting the kids' army into shape

Getting the kids’ army into shape

Three rather spiffy late period Romans (AD 400)

Three rather spiffy late period Romans (AD 400)

Are road surveyors ever satisfied?

Are road surveyors ever satisfied?

Three Roman ladies

Three Roman ladies

Fighting techniques demonstrations, marches through York with the “emperor” declaiming on Carluccio’s balcony and the Minster steps, kids’ army, a living history camp, birds of prey, coin striking and much more filled the Saturday and Sunday.  And throughout it all, an atmosphere that was friendly, lively, occasionally risqué, but always inclusive and knowledgeable pervaded the whole weekend. Massive thanks to Graham Harris, his team and colleagues and the Yorkshire Museums Trust for making this weekend such a terrific success.

Mystery scribblers three – Alison Morton, Jane Finnis, Ruth Downie (Photo: (c) Ruth Downie)


The bookroom collective

The bookroom collective (Photo: (c) Tracey Turney)


Shall I go back next year? You bet!


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO,  PERFIDITAS,  SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA,  INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO.  CARINA, a novella, and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories, are now available.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series.

Download INCEPTIO, the series starter, FREE as a thank you gift when you sign up to Alison’s monthly email newsletter. You’ll also be first to know about Roma Nova news and book progress before everybody else, and take part in giveaways.

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