Auxilia Dress


further reading:
Roman Military clothing - Graham Sumner, Osprey
Roman costume and fashion - Alex Croom, Tempus

.Our Auxilia unit is the first cohort of Britons (Coh I Brit) raised in this country. It is likely that these were the Britons on the side of Agricola at Mons Graupius.

We have two very important aspects to consider when thinking about our clothing. The first is whether an enforced uniform existed within the Roman army (note this is the perennial tunic colour argument that continues to rage). The second is how much standardisation would have existed within an auxilia cohort and whether all clothing was 'standard issue' and leading from this is whether auxilia would make an effort to retain their native dress and fashions.

We do know that the Roman Army had a very efficient method of ensuring it's troops were properly equipped by a mixture of in-house production and military contracts to external suppliers. If they can equip a new cohort as far away as Briton with weaponry then they could certainly equip them with standard clothing if it was required! On the other hand, we also know that soldiers obtain their own clothing items locally or further afield through family contacts. The other consideration is that clothing that is suitable for wear in the Mediterranean climates is not suitable for a British (or worse, a German) winter.
The truth probably falls somewhere between these two poles with soldiers using a delightful mixture of both types.

While a cohort would originally be raised within one country and would be likely to retain it's native customs, it's new recruits would be likely to be pulled from a common pool. Cohorts do not cease to exist after all their original members have been killed or discharged. How 'British' would a 'British' cohort be after 50 years on the Rhine frontier ??

Our Uniform
Our Cohort has decided to adopt red as the standard colour for a military tunic. When you are 'on duty' then you will wear a red tunic. All other items of clothing are at your discretion, including your 'off duty' tunic.
The 'red' of the tunic doesn't have to match anyone elses as they would have been obtained from different sources and be of different ages (i.e. more worn and faded in some cases) and also red is slightly different on linen and wool.

You will want to read the article on British Dress as you can use much of this clothing and in addition all the sections on patterns, colours and construction are the same.

The Auxilia Look

Here are a couple of pictures by Ralph that show a more native look for a Auxilia <left> .....

....... and a more traditional Roman look <right>

You will notice in both cases that the military equipment is the same (or similar) for both. Although there is a fair amount of variation in Roman military equipment it is NOT varied with British military gear.
As we've already seen in another article, the auxilia and british shields are very much of a 'type'.

(left) is a picture of Peronis in what could be considered to be northern european soft kit and roman military equipment.
Points of interest here are that his sword is attached to the belt as opposed to a baldric and that he has two belts.
His mail shirt is very similar to the kirkburn mailshirt detailed elsewhere on the website

Material, colour and weave
Please see the article on British Dress for this information. Although the Romans do have more access to cotton, silk and a nice purple colour; you won't be getting _that_ in the army !

Tunic and Trousers and cloak
Again, see the article on British Dress but here are some images that show perhaps a more Roman style for those that wish to adopt it. Please remember that your military tunic must be RED.

This image <left> is from adamklissi and shows a short sleeved knee length tunic with calf/knee length trousers.

this image <right> is from the same later period and shows our legionarys in a similar sort of tunic.

this image <left> is from France and may possible show the width of a more roman tunic.

Calf length trousers are the preferred choice for Auxilia.
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There was a letter found at the Roman fort at Vindolanda, on Hadrian's Wall, from a soldier writing home asking for more socks. and in addition there was part of a razor handle found with "knitted socks" (right)

There is also a childs textile sock, with an upper and a sole tacked together, found at Vindolanda

Of course, there are finds from later period roman contexts (4/5th AD) of socks made using single needle knitting (nalbinding).

Military Belts
I will include the military belt here as a dress item as it does appear to be the one item that marks a soldier from a civilian. There will be a separate article on this (when I get around to it).