On the trail of the Romans

The Early People gallery of the National Museum of Scotland contains a wealth of fascinating Roman artefacts for visitors of all ages to explore. I have been fascinated by the Romans since I was at school, growing up in East Lothian where the famous Traprain Law treasure was discovered and now on display in this very gallery. I was therefore excited to be asked to create a new activity trail for school audiences along with my colleague Ruth Butler, a member of the Enabler team who is an archaeologist with a shared interested in the Romans in Scotland.

Silver hoard from Traprain Law, East Lothian AD 410–425.
Silver hoard from Traprain Law, East Lothian AD 410–425.

The launch of this brand new Roman trail aims to bring the Roman collections to life as pupils explore a wide range of objects to discover more about the life of a Roman soldier in Scotland.

To begin, pupils are invited to join the Roman army by choosing their own Roman name as they take on the persona of a Roman soldier! A new Roman character has been created for the trail to take command of these new recruits and to guide them around the gallery – introducing Felix the Centurion! By marching their way to the highlighted stops along the trail, pupils discover how the Roman army survived in Scotland, from farming to the controlling of the native ‘barbarians’, whilst learning about the weaponry they required to protect themselves! Do they have what it takes to be a Roman soldier?

Romans trail
Illustration from the Romans trail. Illustration by Dawson Creative.

Teachers and helpers are helped by new supporting notes designed to help them find their way around the Early People Gallery. Information provided includes detailed directions to the key objects in the trail, along with the answers to the questions and additional facts/questions which might be useful in encouraging pupils to compare and contrast life in the past to the present.

You can download the trail and teacher’s notes here and on the National Museums Scotland’s website. There are also a number of fantastic interactive Roman games online which are ideal follow-up activities to try at school or at home!

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