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Fort Vechten
Sunday 28 May 2006

The scuta of the Fectienses and the Minervii line the tower.
The scuta of the Fectienses and the Minervii line the tower.

Authari stands guard.For the first time in 2006, we were back at the tower. And not alone, for we had some visitors. All the way from Münster, the Minervii had come to join us in what so far would be the largest Late Roman gathering at the tower. Six of us! The Fectienses seniores of course (us) with Valerius (me) and Chariovalda (Andreas), the Minervii with Publius (Patrick), Authari (Jürgen), Gisalhari (Alexander) and Till. And my son Jeroen of course, who was a bit daunted by the strange language and all the beards, but then went on to run around and have fun all day.

Fectio and the Minervii: Chariovalda, Authari, Publius, Gisalhari, Till and Valerius.
Fectio and the Minervii: Chariovalda, Authari, Publius, Gisalhari, Till and Valerius.
Jeroen having fun.
Jeroen having fun.
Patrick's tunica.
Patrick's great-looking tunica.
Alexander also had a nice one!
Alexander also had a nice one!

The Minervii had come all the way from Münster, just for a day at the tower, which we thought was very cool of them! Of course we jumped at the chance to get some company on our lonely watch. The guests brought plenty of new arms and armour for us to see, not to mention beautiful clothing which we admired a little jealously.

First time for me to wear my new greaves.
First time for me to wear my new greaves.
The Minervii from the air, practising formations..
The Minervii from the air, practising formations..
..which look even better from the front.
..which look even better from the front.
Shieldwall.
Shieldwall.
Andreas taking pictures.
Andreas taking pictures.

But of course we also had new things to show, such as our new greaves, ocrea. Whilst discussing all the material, tactics, groups and plans, we had a lot of fun. Of course we all brought food and drink, so instead of a patrol visiting a tower, our Roman outfit looked more like a cosy picnic! Later on, Andreas showed our guest round the big 19th-c. Fort Vechten, while me and Jeroen guarded the tower at leisure.

In the meantime, not very many people stopped by. Unfortunately it had been raining for almost a week, and though the weather forecast had been favourable, just a few people had gone for a trip. Only a big bunch of Americans had taken their bikes on a guided tour of the Dutch countryside, but most Dutch had stayed at home. But besides a strong wind from the north, the weather was quite good, with large sunny spells even. We felt truly lucky. And in the afternoon, bicycle traffic picked up a bit, and we had several interested visitors.

Chariovalda attacks..
Chariovalda attacks..
The Fectienses also know how to impress an opponent!
The Fectienses also know how to impress an opponent!
Posing opportunity; the Minervii next to the (modern) milestone.
Posing opportunity; the Minervii next to the (modern) milestone.
Marching across the Marsdijk, back to the tower.
Marching across the Marsdijk, back to the tower.
Returning patrol.
Returning patrol.
Jeroen had a great time (despite the face he's pulling here), we were so lucky it wasn't rainy.
Jeroen had a great time (despite the face he's pulling here), we were so lucky it wasn't rainy.

Lucky for us, not all of them. A friend of ours had come all the way from Nijmegen to see us and out guests, bringing his 'wannabe-cloggie’ American girlfriend with him. And since these two internet wizards are the driving force behind the Roman Army website (if you want to read what we talk about, click here), the discussion turned technical after that. And so, the ‘guard-duty’ turned into a kind of mini-event…

Tower in the sun..
Tower in the sun..
Till and Alexander catching some sun.
Till and Alexander catching some sun.
Of course we discussed weapons, tactics, clothing, etc..
Of course we discussed weapons, tactics, clothing, etc..
Jasper & Christy
Jasper & Christy
..visited us, which we all thought was very 'gezellig'.
..visited us, which we all thought was very 'gezellig'.
'To your health, Sir!', the guardians of the tower enjoying plenty of food and drink.
'To your health, Sir!', the guardians of the tower enjoying plenty of food and drink.
The guys sparring while they were shown round Fort Vechten.
The guys sparring while they were shown round Fort Vechten.
Practise..
Practise..
.. of a lone attacker..
.. of a lone attacker..
..on a solid shield wall. The Late Roman Legio Minervia shows it's as steadfast as its ancestors.
..on a solid shield wall. The Late Roman Legio Minervia shows it's as steadfast as its ancestors.
Publius posing..
Publius posing..
..and Chariovalda.
..and Chariovalda.

Of course we did some drill practise. As Late Romans, we don’t meet with other Late Romans very often, so the chance to do something together was taken up with glee. We did some formations such as a shield wall and a fulcum, the Late Roman version of the testudo. This formation was in use against cavalry, with one rank crouching behind the shield, the second rank covering them, and the third covering their heads. All hold their long spears out at a 45-degree angle. According to ancient sources, such a formation of infantry was nearly unbreakable.

Combined arms of the Fectienses and the Minervii in a shield wall.
Combined arms of the Fectienses and the Minervii in a shield wall.
Ad fulcum!
Ad fulcum!
Three ranks ..
Three ranks ..
..deep against cavalry. The Late Roman version of the testudo of old times.
..deep against cavalry. The Late Roman version of the testudo of old times.

When the day was done, we and all the guests went their way homewards. Our German commilitones with an invitation to return, in September.


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