A soldiers life

The soldiers who would have lived here were auxiliaries – they were not Romans and could have come from anywhere in the Roman Empire. They were paid only 1/3 of what a legionary soldier would earn. However, after 25 years service, on retirement they and their children would have been rewarded with Roman citizenship – although many did not achieve this target!

Soldiers spent much of their service away from home, and it was normal for civilian settlements to develop around a fort where some wives might have lived. In other instances soldiers developed relationships with local women, and might have stayed where they were posted when they retired.

Just as nowadays, the life of the Roman soldier focused on being ready for battle. So, the Gelligaer auxiliaries would have drilled developed skills with weapons on the parade ground to the east of the fort, and they would have gone onto the common to practise constructing marching camps – to the north of the fort the remains of 5 practise camps can be seen from the air.

The soldiers would guard the fort, clean there own and the centurions kit as well as cook and clean the site. However, an important part of the Roman soldier’s life was the Baths – and a separate bath building was built outside the Fort at Gelligaer (as there was a risk of fire). Here soldiers would bathe and exercise, as well as meet friends and relax – gossip, gamble, play games, have a snack and drink when off duty.

The life of the soldier in Gelligaer would have been hard – especially if you originally came from southern Europe – imagine how cold this hilltop would have been in the middle of winter!