Hadrian's Wall Live

The Eagles Have Landed

The Roman Invasion of Britain is a great way to explore issues of:

  • identity and image
  • power and resistance
  • regime change
  • the impact upon one culture when it is subjugated by another

This can be done not just in an historical context but also as reflected in more recent human history. It works for KS3 and other National Curriculum levels.

The themes and resources relate to the broader concept of empire. Our starting part is the impact of the Roman Empire on the people living in northern Britain.

Historical Framework: From conquest to Hadrian’s Wall

Provides a brief historical background to the period:

Download Historical Framework (PDF)


Head of Vespasian (jpg image), image of cast from the British Museum on loan to Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery

‘Shock & Awe' (jpg image) poster (Redman Brothers) from the Eagles Have Landed Exhibition

3D Legionary Helmet

This bronze infantry helmet of the Weisenau type has been dated to the second half of the first century AD. It features a central crest holder at the front of the helmet. This is set into a protective bar. A numerical inscription on the underside may relate to its production. A helmet complete with cheek pieces is very rare. This example shows signs of ancient repair.

Click the image to zoom in and examine it more closely:

Supporting Resources

Description of the Battle of Mons Graupius by the Roman historian, Tacitus (PDF)

Key events in the first century of Roman Britain (PDF)

Propaganda and Spin: The Introduction of Coins

Download Propoganda and Spin (PDF)


Dupondius of Vespasian, obverse (jpg image) and reverse (jpg image)




Reverse of a different coin showing the Christian chi rho symbol (jpg image) signifying that Christianity was now the official state religion

Two reverses from different coins showing a Roman altar on a coin (jpg image) and Roman Temple on a coin (jpg image), emphasizing the emperor’s role as religious leader of the Empire.

Aureus of Vespasian, made of gold from the looted treasures taken from the Temple in Jerusalem, obverse (jpg image) and reverse (jpg image)

Coin of Domitianus (jpg image), part of a hoard found at Chalgrove, Oxfordshire. Domitianus was emperor for about 1 week in AD 271 but still found it imperative to mint coins.






Supporting Resources

‘A Closer Look at Coins' (PDF) – for use by students, particularly suited for use during a visit to a Roman site/gallery

‘Looking at Image & Logo' (PDF) - for use by students, aimed to open up a wider discussion of the prevalence and use of images and logos in the present day.

How we construct our reputations (PDF), an article by Lisa Jardine. This explores the construct of reputation and image by present day politicians.

Payscales chart for the Roman Army (PDF)

Destruction, Assimilation and Expansion of Beliefs

Download Beliefs (PDF)


Altar dedicated to Jupiter (jpg image). The inscription reads:

I O M | To Jupiter, Greatest and Best

COH I HISPAN | First Cohort Hispana

CVI PRA | Commanded by

EST CCAB C | Caballius

PRISCV | Priscus

TRIB | Tribune

‘To Jupiter, the best and greatest, the first cohort of Spaniards, commanded by Caius Caballus Priscus, tribune (erected this)’

Tombstone of Vacia/Tombstone of Vacia line (jpg), the inscription reads:

D I S | To the shades [of the departed]

VACIA INFANS | Vacia, an infant

AN III | three years [old]

‘To the shades [of the departed] Vacia, and infant aged three years’

Tombstone depicting a victorious cavalryman defeating a British warrior (jpg image), a familiar image denoting the subjugation of the Barbarians by the might of Rome

Balance scales (jpg image) and weight (jpg image) in the shape of the bust of a gladiator

Dragonesque brooch (jpg image), an example of British design and craftsmanship




Roman pottery (jpg image), an amphora, mortarium and facepot, introduced by the Romans

Parade helmet (jpg image) from Crosby Garret, Cumbria





Searching for the Past

Download Theme 1: Searching for the Past (PDF)


Use images of coins, pots etc from the other sections to support Part 5 of this theme

Supporting Resources

Texts – The Battle of Mons Graupius, The Evidence of Tacitus, Lists & More Lists

Romans and Tribes

Download Theme 2: Romans and Tribes (PDF)

Supporting Resources

Caratacus Fortune Line (PDF)

Caratacus, life events (PDF)

Cartimandua, life events (PDF)

Cartimandua questions (PDF)

Tacitus, the defeat of Caratacus (PDF)

The evidence of Tacituss (PDF): Roman historian writing in the first century AD.

Exploring the Past in our Present

Download Theme 3: Exploring the Past in our Present (PDF)

Supporting Resources

Other avenues to explore (PDF): suggestions of themes and ideas

Shamus’ Stories (PDF)

The Romans through their pots

Download Theme 4: The Romans through their pots (PDF)


Mortarium replica and sherd (jpg image), mortaria were specialised mixing bowls with a rough internal surface used for grinding herbs and spices and a spout for pouring the finished mixture into the cooking pan.

Samian Ware mould fragments (jpg image) Highly decorated bowls were thrown on a wheel and then re-thrown in a mould to create the decorated surface.

Face pot (jpg image) The use of these is uncertain but many were used as cremation urns.










Supporting Resources

Map of the Roman World based on Ptolemy’s map (jpg image)

Making pottery coins, amphorus and a Map of the World (PDF) -  a creative project based on Gaius the Potter's story.

Lists & More lists (PDF), two lists from Vindolanda, one a list of food distribution

‘The Roman Conquest was a good thing’

Download Theme 5: 'The Roman Conquest was a good thing' (PDF)










Supporting Resources

Maximus the Centurion (PDF)

Gaius the Potter (PDF)

Nest the Weaver (PDF)

Sulwyn the Bronze Smith (PDF)

Muriel the Herbalist (PDF)

Shamus the Storyteller (PDF)

Victor the Auxiliary (PDF)

Web links

Information about and texts from the Vindolanda letters.

More about the coins of Domitianus, Vespasian and the aureus of Claudius struck to commemorate the conquest of Britain.

Roman Gold from Finstock, AD 70 at the Ashmolean.

Image sources

  • ‘Shock & Awe’ poster, Redman Design, designers of the Eagles Have Landed exhibition and Roman Frontier: Stories Beyond Hadrian’s Wall, gallery at Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery
  • Dupondius of Vespasian, Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery
  • Denarii, Nottingham University Museum
  • Aureus of Vespasian, The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, used with permission
  • Coin of Domitianus, The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, used with permission
  • Balance scales and weight, tombstones of cavalryman and Vacia, Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery
  • Roman pottery, Graham Taylor, Potted History
  • Parade helmet from Crosby Garret, Christie’s Auction House
  • Altar dedicated to Jupiter, Senhouse Roman Museum
  • Bronze saucepan, University of Nottingham Museum
  • Samian Ware bowl and cup, Samian Ware plate, cooking pot and shard, mortarium replica and shard, Samian Ware mould fragments, Facepot, all University of Nottingham Museum
  • Weaving comb, Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery
  • Gaius at his wheel, Ken Lister

Inspired by

The Eagles Have Landed touring exhibition which visited the Roman Gallery at Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery, Carlisle.


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