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The Romans

by Mandy Barrow
WW ll
Roamn Britain
Saxon Britain
Viking Britain
Norman Britain
Tudor Britain
Victorian Britain
World War Two
500 BC
AD 43
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Roman Officers


RomanThe Legionary Legate

The Legate was the leader of a Legion.

One of the early legionary legates in Britain called Vespasian went on to become emperor.

RomanThe Legionary Centurion

Most centurions were in charge of a 'century' (centuria) a group of eighty men, but senior centurions commanded cohorts, or took senior staff roles in their legion.

Two legionary centurions

A centurion was easily spotted by:

  • the sideways horse hair crest on his helmet
  • a shirt of mail armour over a leather arming-doublet
  • a cloak of fine material
  • medals on his chest, awarded for bravery in battle
  • sword on the left and his dagger on the right (different to the legionary)

One centurion who served in Britain, called Petronius Fortunatus, was in the army in total for amazing fifty years.

sideways horse hair crest
Sideways horse hair crest
medals on chest
Medals on his chest

The centurion wore his sword on the left and his dagger on the right - in reverse fashion to the legionary.

A centurian has his sword on his left

A legionary has his sword on his right

To show the differences in ranks centurions carried a special stick to show who they were. They used the stick to beat any soldier who disobeyed an order.

centurions carried a special stick
Centurions carried a special stick

Deputy Centurion

The optio was nominated by the centurion as his deputy. His knob ended staff was used to prod the ranks into line. Optio means 'chosen man'

Deputy centurion

The optio helmet sometimes had black and white plumes so he could be distinguished among the soldiers.


Optios often carried wax tablets on which they kept the orders of the day.

Roman Soldiers Roman Army Roman Officers
Equipment Soldier's weapon Armour
Artillery Standard Bearers Formations
Roman Auxiliary Army Training Roman Shields
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