Armies march out of history onto the streets of Carlisle

An army of soldiers from different periods in the history of Carlisle will march through the city once again on Thursday 28th May.

Re-enactors representing Romans, Vikings and English Civil War soldiers will march from different parts of the city towards The Guildhall where they will be addressed by Emperor Hadrian, as time converges in the centre of Carlisle.

The event is part of The Living Frontier which will bring 2,000 years of history to life in vivid and spectacular detail during the spring half term from the 24th to the 31st of May at the historic sites along Hadrians Wall

Linda Tuttiett, the Chief Executive of Hadrian’s Wall Heritage Ltd, says: “The Living Frontier will be a series of colourful and action packed events right across Hadrian’s Wall Country from the mouth of the Tyne to the west coast of Cumbria. The march in Carlisle will undoubtedly be one of the highlights and will provide a great spectacle both for local people and visitors to the city and help bring its Historic Quarter to life.”

Roman Soldier - Credit Roger Clegg

Roman Soldier - Credit Roger Clegg

The day’s events will also see more historical, as well as hysterical, performances.

Roman centurion Pompous Maximus and his devious slave Servillius Wretch will be turning up after years in the wilderness to check on how the Roman Empire is doing.

Queen Elizabeth the First will also be entertaining her subjects while Francis Drake tries on a regular basis to conquer Spain, if he could just work out where it was. One of the best re-enactment groups in the country, their performance is described as ‘more Blackadder than Glenda Jackson’.

Hadrian’s Wall Heritage Ltd is managing The Living Frontier as part of culture10’s programme of world class events for North East England and has been able to extend the programme westwards into Cumbria through the support of Carlisle Renaissance.

Bryan Gray, Chair of Carlisle Renaissance, said: “Carlisle Renaissance is delighted to support the Living Frontier events, as part of our push to raise the profile of Carlisle’s Historic Quarter and bring more visitors to Carlisle to experience its rich heritage. I’d urge anyone with an interest in heritage or culture to come along and explore the Living Frontier events and the city, and see for themselves what Carlisle has to offer.”

Pompous Maximus and Queen Elizabeth will be back performing in the centre of Carlisle between 10.30am and 4.30pm on the Friday and Saturday.

Meanwhile the Sealed Knot will be taking people back to the English Civil War at Carlisle Castle on the 29th and 30th. The Castle was a stronghold of the Royalists during the Civil War but was under siege by Oliver Cromwell’s Roundheads. How long could they hold out?

Visitors will be invited inside the castle walls to see and hear life in the castle during these tumultuous times. Soldiers drill, man the gatehouse and the wall walks. The city’s craftspeople keep the army going; you’ll be able too see the blacksmith, the barber surgeon, the cloth workers, cooks and the carpenters all at work. All of them waiting for an attack on the castle.

The Living Frontier events will be taking place all along Hadrian’s Wall during the half term holidays. They are being led by Hadrian’s Wall Heritage Ltd. As well as being supported by Carlisle Renaissance The Living Frontier forms part of North East England’s word-class programme of festivals and events developed by culture10.

Roman soldier

Roman soldier

The highlight of The Living Frontier events will be a ninety minute pageant at Tynedale Rugby Ground in Corbridge on Saturday 30th May at 8.00pm. The event will bring together all the re-enactors and their frontier stories in a spectacular show of music, drama, and technical wizardry that creates a journey through the mists of time to witness two battles, a wedding and a funeral.

Tickets for the pageant will cost £10 for adults and £5 for children. Anyone who buys a ticket for the event will save 50% on admission charges over the weekend at all the other venues where the Living Frontier events are taking place.

At Birdoswald on 24th and 25th May you can come face to face with Roman soldiers from the time of the invasion of Britain to the end of Roman rule and the time of the legendary King Arthur. Visitors will witness the drill and tactics of these soldiers and see the skill and horsemanship of a fast paced duo of cavalry soldiers from both epic periods in history.

From the 29th to the 31st of May there will be a living history camp involving Border Reivers at Birdoswald. The event will include weapon and show drills with muskets and other period equipment and an interactive ‘court martial’.

Senhouse Alive! at Maryport at the western end of the World Heritage Site on 26th May will include historical tours, Roman food and a chance to make your very own Roman goddess.

Further along the Wall, a full Roman Century (80 soldiers) will make visits to a number of sites in Hadrian’s Wall Country from their encampment at Corbridge Roman Site, as well as presenting full drill exhibitions and living history displays at Corbridge. It will be the first time this will have been seen on Hadrian’s Wall for over 1600 years.

Vindolanda will be the site of an encampment that not only recreates Roman military life but shows how the civilians and families lived almost 2000 years ago. The Roman Army Museum will provide a taste of history with cookery demonstrations from key periods in the history of Hadrian’s Wall.
Once a Roman Cavalry fort, Chesters will provide displays of equestrian and falconry skills and there will also be events at Housesteads.

At the eastern end of Hadrian’s Wall Country, Segedunum and Arbeia will celebrate the Living Frontier with displays from the Viking era.

For further information, times and tickets to the pageant visit or telephone 01434-322002.

To find out more about Hadrian’s Wall Country go to

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