British Museum Partners with Horrible Histories for Forthcoming Exhibition Legion : Life in the Roman Army

Tuesday, January 23, 2024
British Museum Partners with Horrible Histories for Forthcoming Exhibition Legion : Life in the Roman Army

The British Museum is for the first time partnering with Horrible Histories, author Terry Deary and illustrator Martin Brown’s bestselling book series, to engage children in its upcoming exhibition Legion: life in the Roman army.

Through a specially designed Horrible Histories themed trail of the exhibition, alongside a variety of family interactive stations en route, children of all ages will be guided through the show, led by Horrible Histories’ beloved character, Rattus.

Rattus, who will be playfully renamed Claudius Terrattus, will take younger visitors on his journey of becoming a soldier in the Roman army and the trials and tribulations faced by those serving 2,000 years ago. Through the course of the special exhibition trail, Rattus explains his ambition to become a Roman soldier, the dangers and difficulties he could face and the riches and rewards he could receive. Carefully chosen family-friendly exhibition objects will be highlighted along the way, accompanied by commentary from Rattus himself.

Rattus’ story mirrors the overarching themes of the exhibition itself, with a focus on the personal experiences of individuals, appreciating that despite the risks, the Roman army offered an exceptional way for people from different backgrounds and from different parts of the empire to advance themselves.

The partnership aims to inspire younger visitors and instil a curiosity of what life was really like for people during Imperial Rome, all through the lens of a much-loved children’s brand now celebrating its 30th anniversary.

Horrible Histories’ author Terry Deary comments: “Since the earliest days of Horrible Histories, Rotten Romans continues to be one of the most popular books and it’s no wonder as Roman life could be really horrible. But life in the Roman army was even worse – tough, dangerous and dirty (and that’s just the terrible toilets in the forts). I am glad that Horrible Histories will encourage families and children to engage with history at the British Museum and think about the real people who lived through it.”

Horrible Histories’ illustrator Martin Brown comments: “After 30 years illustrating Horrible Histories, it’s great to see Rattus pop up in the British Museum with his rat’s-eye view of life in the Roman army. I hope everyone enjoys delving into some fascinatingly foul facts and exploring the utterly amazing artefacts on display – Horrible Histories-style.”

Richard Abdy, Curator of Roman and Iron Age coins comments: “Fun facts are well-remembered facts, so a pinch of humour is a welcome ingredient. Horrible Histories excels at entertaining while reminding kids of all ages that history can be a lot grimmer than the popular imagination – the perfect antidote to a show on the Roman army.”

Legion: life in the Roman army will run from 1 February – 23 June 2024 in the Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery at the British Museum. Children under 16 can enter free of charge when accompanied by a paying adult, check our website for further details. The exhibition will look at what it was like to be in one of the most iconic fighting forces of all time, exploring the reality of daily life for the men, women and children who were part of the machine which allowed Rome to master its vast empire.

Main Image :Copper alloy Roman legionary helmet © The Trustees of the British Museum

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Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


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