Going Roman in Eboracum 2023

The Roman authors! Left to right: Nancy Jardine, Graham Sumner, Jacquie Rogers, Simon Elliot, Jason Monaghan, LJ Trafford, Alison Morton Ruth Downie, Kate Cunningham, Simon(SJA) Turney (Photo courtesy of Tracey Turney)

What a fantastic weekend! Despite the rain on the Saturday, the atmosphere among the authors and reenactors was warm at the Eborcum Roman Festival. Many ‘Fantastic to see/meet you’s and ‘Love your new costume‘s went along with ‘Have you brought your new book with you?‘s.

Regulars such as Simon Turney, Ruth Downie, LJ Trafford and from last year, Nancy Jardine, were joined by Simon Elliot from the University of Kent, Jacquie Rogers, Kate Cunningham, archaeologist Jason Monaghan and the renowned Roman illustrator Graham Sumner.

Off to invade York! (Photo: Dave Ruddock)

The hours I spent on my new outfit – a change from my 21st century Praetorian officer uniform as worn by my heroines Carina and Aurelia – were justified as I was invited to join the Roman parade as well as the presentation of the changes in Roman fashion across the centuries. What honours indeed!

Unlike last year, I had little time to wander around the living village as we were busy in the book tent, chatting and signing, especially Sunday when the sun came out.

But I stopped by the ice cream van next to the Yorkshire Museum and indulged in a ‘Roman’ ice cream.  🙂

The recipe? Vanilla ice cream topped with honey, basil leaves and a chunk of fresh fig (the bit in the front), plus an iced shortbread gladius. It was delicious.

Of course, it was a bit daft, but it was fun.

Saturday night it was back to jeans and shirts and we ate at ASK in York in a neo-Roman hall, the former Georgian Assembly Rooms, opened in 1710. Once, dances and social balls were held there. You can almost see Elizabeth and Mr Darcy flitting between the columns. Today, it’s still busy, full of noise and laughter, serving as an Italian restaurant.

At one point during the festival, I met up with the 4th century magister militum, the head of the armed forces/field marshal equivalent. We Late Romans need to hang together!

With the 4th century magister militum

As “Julia”, I took part in the fashion parade with hi, the late Roman period emperor Flavius Constantinus and others. We each did a short explanation of our outfits and how they’d changed over the centuries.

Roman costume fashion show

Throughout the weekend, we ran a book draw. Visitors put their name and contact details on slips of paper  (shredded afterwards because of GDPR). Each author contributed a book to the bundle and Graham Sumner put in two superb paintings.

A lucky Roman enthusiast from Leicester won. she said she was thrilled and will share them with an equally enthusiastic ‘Roman friend’.

Praefectus Flavius helps to draw out the slip with the winning name. (Photo: Kate Cunningham)

Apart from the fun aspects, I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with fellow authors – laughing, joking, sharing – and talking to readers about books, Romans and what if. These festivals give us time away from today’s world and let us touch a glimpse of the past in our 21st century way. I do wonder if the spirits of 2,000 years ago are chuckling at us from the walls during a break from sentry duty.


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO, CARINA (novella), PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA, NEXUS (novella), INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO,  and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series. Double Identity, a contemporary conspiracy, starts a new series of thrillers. JULIA PRIMA, a new Roma Nova story set in the late 4th century, is now out.

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2 comments to Going Roman in Eboracum 2023

  • Excellent summary, Alison! And…I loved being a member of author group in the Bibliotheca [author tent]. It’s was a fantastic weekend. Since I love to come south to York, it takes little persuasion to get me to don my ‘Celtic’ outfit and be the northern barbarian.

    • Alison

      Romans need barbarians! We had fun, didn’t we? Not only that, we had some stimulating and fascinating conversations with all our visitors, especially those who bought our books.

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