Imagine yourself as part of a heavily armoured column of Roman soldiers marching slowly and rhythmically along a narrow forest road. Small clouds of dust
are kicked up by your heels. The sun beats mercilessly down on you in-between the shadows, and the humming sound of cicadas rattles off of your helmet.
As the sweat snakes along the back of your neck and trickles in rivulets down into your armour, you keep your ears primed for any unusual sounds. You
vigilantly scan the dense brush for any sign of the Celtic rebels that have been haunting the area and harassing your garrison. The weight of your shield
may be slowly sapping your energy but not your resolve. You know that it is your salvation in the event of an attack. As the column swings around a sharp
bend, there is a sudden commotion to the front, and an officer screams, “shields up” just as a rain of missiles slams into you from insurgents blocking the
road. No sooner have the projectiles rattled off of your shield than the order to form a battle line is shouted. As you jostle into position to meet the enemy
charge, your peripheral vision detects a sudden blur of motion to your right. You turn your head just in time to see the forest come alive with Celts hurtling
towards your rear and flank. Will you live? Will you die? Have your officers planned well enough to save your life? Come to the
castra aestiva and find out
for yourself.


Each spring, as the weather improved, the Roman army’s campaign season began with the redeployment of troops from winter quarters to ‘fair weather’
camps known as
castra aestiva. In 2006 Tom Ross hosted a castra aestiva event in an open field nestled amidst farmland and forest. In 2007 a fossa was
excavated and an
agger was formed from the spoil. The next year a gatehouse was erected followed by flanking curtain walls in 2009. In 2010 the castra
was finally fully enclosed, and in 2011 four corner towers were added and ovens were built against the
agger. A principia building (headquarters) was
erected in 2013. Today, the
castra remains a work-in-progress.


castra aestiva, held annually each May Memorial Day weekend near Tillsonburg Ontario, is a non-public training event involving Romans and their
enemies. It is recommended that new Roman reenactors attend it for a unique immersion experience. Participants bivouac in tents (
sub-pellibus) sheltered
inside of the protective walls of a fortified camp. Activities include typical army fatigues, Roman drill, weapons handling (sword, archery,
pila, sling and free
arm stone throw), patrolling and (unit) field combat against enemies of the empire. Come, participate and enjoy fireside/battle camaraderie that bonds
soldiers together in a physical setting unlike any other.


Autumn marked the traditional end of the Roman campaign season, and October saw the close of the Mediterranean to shipping (mare clausum). Imperial
troops bivouacked under tents (
sub pellibus) in summer camps (castra aestiva) began their preparations for relocation to more hospitable winter quarters
castra hiberna) where they were housed in stone lodgings impervious to wind and snow. In the fall, the focus of indigenous peoples adjacent to Roman
summer camps switched from belligerence and insurrection to the harvesting of crops and hunkering down for the winter. The easing of hostilities with the
locals and/or insurgents allowed the Roman soldiers time to heal, train, refurbish their gear, pack up, and prepare for the route march to their winter

The September
castra (like that held in May) is a non-public event that involves Romans and their adversaries. Attendance is recommended for new Roman
reenactors. This one-day end-of-season gathering at the
castra is an excellent opportunity to get re-acquainted with friends and engage in activities
ranging from parade square drill and kit repairs (
fabrica), to weapons practice, and one-on-one needle-felt combat.
26-27 May 2018


Magister Castrorum
Titus Quartinius Saturnalus (Tom Ross) at:
Return to the Principia
home page
- Castra Aestiva -
Tillsonburg, Ontario,