‘Make it short & snappy’
G for Gory gashes and clashes at the Guildhall Gladiator Games.
Going back to back to Roman times with a visit to the smelly market, shrieking at the amphitheatre antics of gladiators in battle and getting hideously wounded – all in the name of recreation?
‘Just the facts please’
- Guildhall Art Gallery & Roman London’s Amphitheatre
- Here’s a video of the particular event I went to
- Website: https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/visiting-the-city/attractions-museums-and-galleries/guildhall-art-gallery-and-roman-amphitheatre/
- Address: Guildhall Art Gallery & Roman London’s Amphitheatre, Guildhall Yard (off Gresham Street)
London EC2V 5AE
- Telephone: 020 7332 3700
- Twitter: @cityoflondon
- Open: every day (Monday – Saturday 10am-5pm & Sunday 12 noon-4pm).
- Cost: free, occasional special events like mine and exhibitions may have a cost
‘I’ve got a cup of tea, tell me all about it…’
London is full of weird and wonderous activities, as we know. This was a particularly odd experience, and therefore one I had to take part in, and make a little more strange by inviting the “mishmash” collection of my Mum, my boyfriend, his brother, our friends, my boss and her son along to a day of historical re-enactment and horror!
The hot sun beating down on us one summer’s day helped complete the transformation from the modern-day era of vast glittering cerulean-sky reflected sky scrapers of the City of London to the dusty, brutal and bloody times of the Roman fighting arena.
To set the scene we wandered through the spectacular Guildhall Yard to the market. We were instantly immersed in market chatter and calls for our custom. There were tables adorned with trinkets, jewellery, large heavy mill stones to grind flour and learn more about Roman cuisine. We were told grimy tales of life in the leather trade and thrilling yarns of voyages across the seas transporting goods from the far corners of the vast Roman empire.
We were told in Roman times Guildhall boasted the largest amphitheatre in all of Britannia, and it was rediscovered in 1988. With some context set, we settled down in the specially built 1,500 seat gladiator arena where we were introduced to those presiding over the event. They informed us about the different Gladiator roles, weapons and formalities.
Now I must admit it was a little while ago that this particular event occurred, in fact it marked a year until the London Olympics! Therefore thankfully the lovely Charlotte Higgins from the Guardian did a sterling job at actually remembering all the Gladiator’s names and heroics of the event at the time. You can read her first hand barbaric account here.
My favourite weapon, was the Hunger Games-esque fishing net!
Whilst there I had the opportunity to feel like I had been a brave warrior, valiantly fighting for my family and getting nobly wounded. I was happily made over to have a very lifelike tear through my forehead that was glistening with what looked like fresh blood and oozing ripped flesh.
Just perfect for a jaunt around London basking in the all too rare glorious summer weather! I kept forgetting I had it and was wondering why I was getting more strange looks than one might usually get. Bless the British public that most didn’t like to interfere or pry, and were content to let me bleed to death with a potentially lethal head wound! I did have a sparse handful of people stop me with worried looks of equal concern and revulsion to check I was aware of the open gash on my face. When I laughed it off as special effects make up from a local event and reassured them, without the context of the Roman warriors around me to back up my story, I must have appeared a little nutty and they simply shook their heads with confusion. One lady however got so cross with me for making her unnecessarily upset that I had to apologise!
Luckily it was quite easy to clean off so I wasn’t traumatising too many people the next day!
If you do want to see a little piece of Roman history under your feet, I do recommend popping by even if just to marvel at the Guildhall itself; a gorgeous piece of architecture slap bang in the middle of the throng of the City of London’s corporate tower blocks – and even better it’s generally free of charge!