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A Contubernium Tent

Roman goatskin tentSoldiers regularly went on route marches, during which they built practice camps and slept in tents such as the one seen here.

The tent weighed over forty kilograms and was carried by mule.

Eight men slept in each tent. It must have been crowded, as space had to be made for all their equipment!

However, as in their barrack rooms, all eight would not sleep at one time. Some would always be on duty.

This reconstruction was made by two members of the Ermine Street Guard. It is firmly based on archaeological evidence, including large pieces of tent found near Hadrian's Wall. Seventy seven large goatskins were used, they were treated with tallow for waterproofing and specially stitched on the inside to prevent rainwater penetrating at the seams.

Stitching on the inside of a Roman goatskin tent.Outside of a Roman goatskin tent showing the way the skins were joined.
Above left: Joins seen from inside tent
Above right: Outside tent

The tent took 750 man hours to make - nearly 10 working weeks per man!