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Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds My friends, a toast to my dutiful wife and our unborn child.

Skip to 0 minutes and 21 seconds What is this? Sebastianus, you’re late for dinner. I’ve just heard some disturbing news. What’s your name and unit, soldier? I’m Gerontius, a trooper of the second Asturius at Cilurnum. I report to Commander Frigidianus, sir. What did you say to that man outside? I asked if Ursus comes to the fort often. Why? I was surprised to see him here, sir. I wondered if maybe he came to Arbeia as much as Cilurnum. What does that matter to you? Well, sir, I’ve been talking to some of the local boys, and they haven’t had that constant raiding here that we’ve had in the hills. You think that has something to do with Ursus? I don’t know, sir.

Skip to 0 minutes and 50 seconds It’s just that he comes to Cilurnum quite a bit. While he enjoys the Lady Melania’s hospitality, but don’t seem to spend any less time fighting the blasted Picts. Thank you, soldier. You’re dismissed.

Skip to 1 minute and 5 seconds Why haven’t you been this hard-pressed at this end of the wall? Why do you seem so relaxed? Has the conspiracy not disturbed you? Are you really a scout for Rome? Or are you a spy for your barbarian friends? You gathered the Arcani’s reports, and yet this conspiracy still happened. How do you explain that? Come, gentlemen, we can resolve this now, before the other officers arrive. I hear the commander from Banna has some very interesting news to tell us. As these men and women feast, Count Theodosius draws nearer. What would he make of the Wall and its commanders? What do you make of this situation?

Skip to 1 minute and 40 seconds The five episodes have dramatised the aftermath of the Barbarian Conspiracy. And while all the characters in the stories are fictitious, they provide viable human scenarios and concerns. In the next step, we ask you to consider a number of questions related to the Barbarian Conspiracy and this dramatisation. But let this dramatisation help you imagine what the daily realities of life in the Roman frontier would mean.

Episode 5: The banquet

The characters in this video are:

  • Flavius Julius Caelestis, Gallic-born Commander of the Numerus Barcariorum Tigrisiensium based at Arbeia, and the host of the gathering
  • Renata Serena, Gallic-born wife of Caelestis, hostess
  • Urbanus, majordomo of Caelestis
  • Ignatius Victor, British-born Commander of the cohors I Cornoviorum at Pons Aelius (Newcastle)
  • Modesta Amata, Gallic-born wife of Victor
  • Remigius Frigidianus, British-born Commander of the ala II Asturum at Cilurnum (Chesters); he also receives reports direct from the areani
  • Desiderata Melania, Pannonian-born wife of Frigidianus, distantly related to the Emperors Valentinian and Valens
  • Fidelis Ursus, one of the areani; the son of Fidelis Broadshield, chief of the Votadini; Ursus is valued by the Roman authorities for the information he supplies on tribal activities beyond the Wall
  • Silvius Sebastianus, officer on the staff of Count Theodosius, dispatched to the Wall in advance of Theodosius’ visit
  • Gerontius, cavalry trooper of Remigius Frigidianus, serving on escort duty for Frigidianus and Melania during the course of the meeting


The officers, wives and Ursus have gathered for dinner.

Other officers from the Wall garrison will soon join them. All are acutely aware that Count Theodosius will arrive the following day. To his hostess’s annoyance Sebastianus arrives late accompanied by a soldier named Gerontius. But the annoyance turns to alarm when, surprising everyone, Sebastianus questions Gerontius in the middle of the meal.

  • How do the soldier’s responses compare to the concerns expressed earlier by the officers?
  • Who has most to fear from Sebastianus’ probing questions?

All characters played by students from the School of History, Classics and Archaeology, Newcastle University. They aren’t actors, so please be nice.

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Hadrian's Wall: Life on the Roman Frontier

Newcastle University

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