Tillsonburg, Ontario, CANADA
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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
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 quarters.

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.
(In light of the COVID-19 pandemic all CASTRA events are suspended until further notice)


Praefectus Castrorum
Titus Quartinius Saturnalus (Tom Ross) at: tomlongwoods@gmail.com