Week 4: The soldiers at Segedunum

The Soldiers at Segedunum

We have a number of objects in our collections which represent the Auxiliary soldiers who lived at Segedunum for approximately 290 years. Find out about these objects below and take part in activities that bring them to life. 

From our collections


Hobnails These are small iron nails hammered into the sole of leather boots and shoes to make them last longer, iron being harder than leather.

Iron Spearhead This was attached to a wooden pole 2m long. This was the main weapon used by Roman soldiers. It was held in one hand while the soldier held his shield in the other.

Piece of horse harness with a stamped inscription by a cavalry soldier 
The surviving letters read: T PRVSOIANA MARC [for ‘turma Prusoniana Marc]‘. Soldiers often identified themselves by the name of their century, or, in the case of cavalry, their turma (a unit of 30 cavalrymen). So here a soldier called Marc… (his full name is unfortunately lost) comes from the turma formerly led by Pruso. This means that Pruso used to be the decurion in charge of the turma but has moved to a different unit, or has retired or died, but a new decurion has not yet been appointed. 

Replica helmet cheek piece from Arbeia. The original is held at Great North Museum 
This was found in the River Tyne, near South Shields. It shows one of the Holy Twins, Castor and Pollux, who were legionary horsemen and heroes (and so would appeal to cavalrymen) – the matching twin would be on the other cheekpiece. The cheekpiece has been cut down for a new owner – the dolphin’s snout has been cut off, and the flower over the ear covering trimmed.

Legionary and Auxiliary Soldiers

The Roman Army was divided into two different elements: the Auxiliaries and Legionaries.

Legionary soldiers were at Segedunum only while they built the Wall and fort (perhaps two or three years). Legionary soldiers therefore had very little to do with life in the fort, apart from the original construction.

Auxiliary soldiers lived here for approximately 290 years. The Auxiliary unit at Segedunum was formed of a mixed cavalry (horsemen) and infantry (foot soldiers) unit. This unit would have been around 480 infantry soldiers and 120 cavalry soldiers. For most of its history, the soldiers living at Segedunum were from the Fourth Cohort of Lingones from Germania Superior (Eastern France).

Download more information about how the Auxiliary and Legionary units were organised and find out what the different units wore below.

Legionary soldiers

Auxiliary soldiers

Legionary soldiers kit

Infantry Auxiliary soldiers kit

Cavalry Auxiliary soldiers kit

The challenges

Artist Simon Terry has drawn pictures of the soldiers who lived at Segedunum during the time of Emperor Hadrian.

Download copies of these drawings below, as well as an Infantry Auxiliary soldier paper doll. 

Challenge 1

Have a go at colouring them in and making your very own Infantry Auxiliary Soldier Paper Doll.

Auxiliary and Legionary Soldier colouring sheets

Cavalry Auxiliary Soldier colouring sheet

Infantry Auxiliary soldier paper doll 

Challenge 2

Why not challenge yourself further by creating your own 3D Roman soldier characters (which can be added to your very own model fort in week 6 of Marvellous Mondays).

To make your 3D Roman soldier characters, you could use:

  • Modelling clay or Play-Doh
  • Toilet roll or kitchen rolls
  • Card/paper
  • Pens, crayons, paint
  • Glue, scissors and tape 

Share your creations

Remember to share your creations with us. Tag us on Twitter at @SegedunumFort, use the #Seggyathome hashtag, or post them on our Facebook page.