These aren’t the druids we’re looking for…

Category: | By Anthony Riches

Just before we all vanish off into our own domestic worlds for Christmas I though it would be nice to share a moment of humour with you from my trip to Chester last week to join Deva Victrix’s Saturnalia parade (Deva Victrix being Chester’s very own re-enactment and tourist guide company with several men who actually get paid to walk around in armour and talk about Roman history, lucky, lucky b——-!).

Having been kindly invited to join both the march through the city and the guys’ celebratory feast afterwards, I drove north in a state of some excitement, especially as the previously incessant rain had chosen to hold off for a few hours. After a very interesting visit to the site of  Park In The Past – of which more in another post – with Paul Harston, the team’s centurion and motive force (who’s also kind enough to tolerate my own slightly dog-eared centurion impression) I ended up outside the team’s HQ next door to the Grosvenor museum dressed in my battered kit and ready to march along behind the guys and watch in quite amusement. Not really a joiner, me…

Nothing of the sort was to be permitted! ‘Here’s your place in the line Centurio!’ and ‘Here’s your torch!’ – the latter bringing a huge grin to my face…

Anthony Riches

…and we were off, marching in two files into town to tell the citizens of Chester just what Saturnalia was – see separate blog – and wow the kids with our blazing torches. And as we marched one of the younger guys behind me – Deva Victrix is one of those units with a healthy crop of men of an age that would actually have qualified them to serve, and not just a bunch of old blokes like me – piped up in that unmistakeable Merseyside humour:



“This old fella says these aren’t the druids we’re looking for?”

I know. I gave the punchline away in the post title and it might seem a bit lame, but I was tittering off and on for the next half an hour. Needless to say the guys put on a great show, complete with an emperor who liked the sound of his own voice, a bevvy of Roman beauties and a great turn out of ugly soldiery, and the celebratory feast afterwards ended up in a moderately messy manner with drinks spilled, men (and women) staggering about and the consumption of vile coloured alcoholic fluids well after midnight. All as it should be. And I learned the Deva Victrix’s marching routine too, joining in lusty shouts of ‘Deva – Victrix!’ and ‘Something or other I never quite discerned – Minerva!’, although I totally failed to pick up the marching song  – something about a restaurant with bedrooms up the stairs?

Anyway, the film is viewable here… Enjoy. You might just get a glimpse of Yours Truly, bedraggled centurion’s crest – it never recovered from the pouring rain that day on the outskirts of Capua – battered scale armour and silly grin. These aren’t the druids you’re looking for…priceless.

And do check back in after Christmas for news of the Roman research and tourism facility that Paul plans to build in the North West. I promise you’re going to be deeply impressed.

All that remains is to wish you all a Happy Christmas! Have a lovely time, drink and eat way too much and I hope you all get your heart’s true desire! Now, where’s that Sloe Gin gone..?