2 May 2023

Last Thursday, the Classics Department welcomed bestselling author Ben Kane to deliver three talks enjoyed by 300 students. Well-researched historical fiction is a good place to inspire a love of a civilization, and for the Roman army, Ben Kane is one of the leading names; he has published 14 historical novels set in the Roman world, including series on Rome’s wars with Hannibal and Spartacus’ slave revolt, and has travelled the Mediterranean and beyond to walk in the footsteps of the Roman army, even walking the full length of Hadrian’s Wall while dressed as a Roman soldier himself!

Ben is an authority on replica Roman equipment and over many years has accumulated an impressive collection, from armour to swords, pendants, water flasks and purses, which he displayed on the day and brought to life in his talks. Admiration for the daily marching distances recorded by Roman troops was heightened by those students who tried on the heavy chain mail (weighing in at nearly 10 kg) and helmet. GCSE Ancient Historians learned about the Roman army during the Punic Wars, 3rd year Ancient Historians discovered the harsh realities of serving in the Roman army during their occupation of Britain and Lower School realised just how much the Roman army changed over the centuries. The number of questions (and book sales) at the end of each of Ben’s talks testify to the enthusiasm he was able to generate in the students.

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