Flavinus Day

Part of Hadrian's Cavalry exhibition, we celebrate Flavinus with a host of Roman activities and displays, with food to match!

Part of Hadrian's Cavalry exhibition, we celebrate Flavinus Day with a host of Roman activities and displays, with food to match!.  Hexham’s famous Roman Cavalryman's 2000 year old tombstone stands proudly at the foot of the Night Stair inside the Abbey. 

11.00am - 5.00pm, free to attend.


Flavinus Day will see a host of free, inclusive activities and entertainment taking place for all ages – the event appeals to young and old, avid history fans, and total Roman novices.

There will be a programme of displays, talks, demos and workshops, as well as hands on activities for children.

Come and see some Roman infantry tactics and witness shield drill training taking place on the Cloister Lawn at 11am, 1pm & 3pm.

Tours of the Abbey will be available, focusing on the incredible collection of Roman relics including the Flavinus tombstone itself.

The Refectory Cafe will be serving a special menu item of Roman 'Pottage' for the day.  Pottage is best described as a lentil casserole, with unique flavours of the age!  We will also be serving Roman burgers from our BBQ - did you know that the Roman's may have invented the burger?!.

Use the expandible menu's below to find out more about what's happening!


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Find out more about the incredible Flavinus Tombstone.

Find out more about Hadrian’s Cavalry exhibition.

Price: FREE

When: Monday, August 28, 2017 - 11:00 to 17:00

Where: Hexham Abbey Grounds

Why Flavinus Day?

The Flavinus tombstone is one of the main historical displays inside the Abbey.  Flavinus himself was a signifier or standard- bearer in Candidus’s troop of the ALA PETRIANA. The tombstone probably stood once in the military cemetery near the fort of CORIA Corbridge; that was where the Petrian cavalry was based as Rome extended its grip over the Tyne Valley in the years from 79AD.  How it came to be discovered in the Abbey is a mystery!

The ALA PETRIANA, the Petrian Cavalry Regiment, came from Gaul. Gaul had come under Roman rule during the 1st century BC, conquered by disciplined, heavily armed legions of citizen infantry. Once such lands were subdued the Roman army recruited auxiliary regiments from the subject peoples, to serve alongside the legions.

The ALA PETRIANA took its name from the Roman noble, Titus Pomponius Petra, who first commanded it. Auxiary cavalry regiments numbered about 500 horsemen in 16 troops (TURMAE) of some 32 men, each commanded by a decurion like Candidus. Flavinus’s regiment had a long and distinguished history, but most of it came after the young soldier’s early death. It was nearly doubled in strength to 24 troops or nearly 800 men, becoming a ‘milliary’ ala; its Gaulish warriors were awarded Roman citizenship. It was granted the title ‘Emperor’s own’ (AUGUSTA), and the whole unit was twice decorated for gallantry by the award of the coveted torque, the neck-ring. These honours were eventually reflected in the regiment’s full title: ALA AUGUSTA GALLORUA PETRIANA MILLIARIA BIS TORQUATA CIVIUM ROMANORUM. Flavinus died before these titles were added, some time before 98AD. About that time the regiment moved from Tynedale and served in southern Scotland, eventually settling at the large fort of UXELODUNUM, Stanwix, near Carlisle.

To this day the Flavinus tombstone is a reminder of the great power and skill of the Roman Cavalry Regiments.  On the 28th August, Flavinus Day is set to educate and celebrate all things Roman in the town of Hexham, with specific attention paid to the elite troops housed around the area.

Talk: The Real Story of Hadrian's Frontier

Gambax (Joseph Jackson, Archaeologist and Roman Frontier specialist) will deliver an informative and fun historical talk.  Be transported back almost 2000 years, to a time when Northumberland was a hostile frontier zone, garrisoned by the formidable Roman army.  

The lecture will give insight into the UNESCO World Heritage site of Hadrian’s Wall, which is normally skimmed over or replaced by the Hollywood version of the Roman army.

Discover the Celtic side of the story - shield design and face painting

Venutius will provide the Celtic response to the Roman invasion, discussing the famous tomb stone of Flavinus, found face down in the Abbey entrance during renovation.  Looking at the hidden meaning of the naked Barbarian with his sword pointed at Flavinus - Roman propaganda or true depiction of a battle?

Families can take part in Celtic shield design and face painting.

Clay disk making and the Festival of Diana

Antonia will discuss the Festival of Diana. Roman festivals played a huge part during the Roman period.  Diana is the goddess of wild nature and the woods.  The historic date of the festival was August the 13th.  Antonia will also discuss herbs and foods the Romans brought to Britain.

Family’s can take part in making clay disks with woodland scenes on them to take home and hang in a tree.

Learn about and experience Roman food

Drop in and chat with Flavia and Solinus about the changes the Roman invasion brought to British diets. 

How was the cuisine of the Empire was interpreted in the Northern outposts?

Ingredients and recipes; shopping lists and seasonal supply chains, imported foodstuffs versus locally sourced substitutes.

Additionally, our refectory cafe will be serving special Roman dishes, while on the lawns you can sample Roman inspired barbecue!

Roman surgery

Roman Surgeon: Alexandros is a Greek surgeon providing medical care forts on Hadrians wall such as Housesteads and Arbeia. Learn about Roman medical techniques, pharmacy and health during roman Britain.

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