Sunday, 26 August 2012

Roman capes, and no Roman capes

It's been far too long since I posted anything here, but it's been a really busy month. Time to start catching up.

Work on various projects had to stop for a while, as I needed to make new capes for Meroe and myself. We were accompanying Roman Tours to Chesters Fort on Hadrian's Wall for a weekend of military and gladiatorial displays, and our existing capes weren't suitable. Plus, it was Hadrian's Wall, and even in late July we would need something really warm.

I soon discovered that it is not easy to buy thick wool fabric in the middle of 'summer', certainly not in a colour and pattern which is suitable for the Roman period. Eventually I managed to find a piece big enough for both capes in my local fabric shop's 'woollens' remnants bin. I also bought two lengths of linen for lining the capes, both for an extra layer of warmth and as a way of telling the capes apart.

The capes themselves were quite simple to make, although the hoods needed a few adjustments to fix that common problem in historical costuming; 'Pointy Hood Syndrome'. The capes and linings were hemmed using linen thread unpicked from spare fabric, and were fastened with penannular brooches.

Because Meroe and I were only dancing in the gladiator show, we wore Roman dress for most of the weekend, rather than out usual Egyptian or north African garb. We were certainly glad of  the capes, as it was very cold, and very windy. The soldiers from northern Spain who were posted to the fort in its heyday must surely have wondered which deity they had offended, to end up in such a place!

Myself and Meroe, warm in our capes. Don't be fooled by the sunshine!

The dance which we performed in the show is a veil dance, and one of the moves it includes is called the 'Roman cape'. I would have liked to include some pictures of us dancing, but unfortunately it was so windy that we had to simplify the choreography, as the veils just would not behave. So here instead are some pictures of Meroe wearing the gladiator dance costume, which I also made, taken in the amphitheatre at the Chester Roman Festival earlier this year.

Veil dance

Meroe and two of the gladiators