Castra Aestiva

Imagine yourself as part of a heavily armoured column of Roman soldiers marching slowly and rhythmically along a narrow forest road. Small clouds of dust are kicked up by your heels. The sun beats mercilessly down on you in-between the shadows, and the humming sound of cicadas rattles off of your helmet.

As the sweat snakes along the back of your neck and trickles in rivulets down into your armour, you keep your ears primed for any unusual sounds. You vigilantly scan the dense brush for any sign of the Celtic rebels that have been haunting the area and harassing your garrison. The weight of your shield may be slowly sapping your energy but not your resolve. You know that it is your salvation in the event of an attack. As the column swings around a sharp bend, there is a sudden commotion to the front, and an officer screams, “shields up” just as a rain of missiles slams into you from insurgents blocking the road. No sooner have the projectiles rattled off of your shield than the order to form a battle line is shouted. As you jostle into position to meet the enemy charge, your peripheral vision detects a sudden blur of motion to your right. You turn your head just in time to see the forest come alive with Celts hurtling towards your rear and flank. Will you live? Will you die? Have your officers planned well enough to save your life? Come to the castra aestiva and find out for yourself.


Each spring, as the weather improved, the Roman army’s campaign season began with the redeployment of troops from winter quarters to ‘fair weather’ camps known as castra aestiva. In 2006 Tom Ross hosted a castra aestiva event in an open field nestled amidst farmland and forest. In 2007 a fossa was excavated and an agger was formed from the spoil. The next year a gatehouse was erected followed by flanking curtain walls in 2009. In 2010 the castra was finally fully enclosed, and in 2011 four corner towers were added and ovens were built against the agger. Today, the castra remains a work-in-progress.


The castra aestiva, held annually each May Memorial Day weekend near Tillsonburg Ontario, is a non-public training event involving Romans and their enemies. It is recommended that new Roman reenactors attend it for a unique immersion experience. Participants bivouac in tents (sub-pellum) sheltered inside of the protective walls of a fortified camp. Activities include typical army fatigues, Roman drill, weapons handling (sword, archery, pila, sling and free arm stone throw), patrolling and (unit) field combat against enemies of the empire. Come, participate and enjoy fireside/battle camaraderie that bonds soldiers together in a physical setting unlike any other.

the Magister Castrorum
Titus Quartinius Saturnalus
(Tom Ross) at