Cranleigh Classicists were treated to a talk by Ben Kane, author of best-selling historical novels Spartacus and Eagles at War.

Our Cranleighans, who are studying Roman warfare as part of their GCSE course, got a chance to see and handle full Roman army kit, placed in historical context by an expert in the field. Ben’s talk was full of hilarious, gruesome and fascinating anecdotes.

We learned about everything from battle strategy to Roman toilet humour. Ben described how Roman soldiers used the boss of the shield to smash their opponents and force them to expose their necks. We were horrified by stories of the penalties meted out to maintain discipline in the army: falling asleep on guard duty was punishable by death.

Ben showed us how Roman soldiers lived cheek-by-jowl in camp, and how this was probably a step-up in life for most of them. We even heard how a Greek army should never attack downhill.

We left the talk entertained, and much the wiser for it. Thanks to Ben for putting on such a brilliant evening.