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Join troops in archery.

Byline: By Jennifer Bradbury

Go back hundreds of years in time this weekend with an event in South Shields. Jennifer Bradbury has the details

Visitors to Arbeia Roman Fort in South Shields will be able to get a flavour of what life was like for an archer, based on the north-west frontier of the Roman Empire in the Third Century.

There will be a have-a-go archery event this Saturday which will give visitors the opportunity to join the archers of the Tees and try out the world-famous English long bow.

Visitors can also enjoy Gladatorial Combat and Roman Living History from Roma Antique and Ludus Claudia who will be at the Fort giving demonstrations.

The Roman bow was called a composite bow ( made of wood, bone, horn and sinew ( and different arrowheads were used, depending on the armour of the enemy troops. Visitors to Arbeia will be able to experience firing a modern bow and arrow at a target.

The Roman legions mainly comprised of infantry troops that were trained to fight in set-piece battles. To provide greater flexibility there were also specialist troops employed in auxiliary units. These auxiliary units could consist of infantry, cavalry, slingers or archers. It was these regiments of auxiliary troops that garrisoned the forts along the Hadrian's Wall frontier.

Archers could either fight on horseback or on foot and tended to be recruited from the Greek island of Crete and the Middle East. In a battle they could be used in two ways. Their main task was to stand behind their own troops and fire over their heads at the opposing body of troops. This tactic meant that they were shooting blind into an area of the battlefield, hoping to hit a large number of the enemy with a great wave of arrows.

Sometimes the archers were employed as skirmishers, aiming to pick off particular enemy targets and generally harass the enemy.

Summer events and activities:

Have-a-go archery and Living History

Saturday 12 August, 11am(4pm

With the Archers of the Tees, Roma Antique and Ludus Claudia

Guided tours with a difference

Saturday 9 September, 11am(4pm and Sunday 10 September 1pm( 4pm

Heritage Open Days

Guided tour with site archaeologist

Saturday 23 September, 2pm-3pm

Including details and review of this year's excavations.

Arbeia features:

Excavated remains and stunning reconstructions of original buildings and finds from the Fort showing what life was like in Roman Britain.

Three reconstructed buildings, rebuilt in their exact positions in the fort; the west gate, a barrack block and the commanding officer's house.

This is a museum displaying finds excavated at Arbeia, which are amongst the most impressive found along the World Heritage Site.

In Time Quest, younger visitors can discover what it is like to be an archaeologist working on a dig.

Arbeia Roman Fort is situated on Baring Street; just 10 minutes' walk from bus and Metro stations. Open: Monday to Saturday 10am to 5.30pm and Sunday 1pm to 5pm. Free entry. For more information, visit:
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Copyright 2006 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 10, 2006
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