The Military Girdle

Around his waist, above his armour, the soldier wore the cingulum or military girdle. Most of the monuments on the German frontier show this utilised to support the sword on the right thigh and the dagger on the left, although sometimes, as on the Trajan column, the sword is worn on the balteus, a strap crossing the left shoulder.[1] The cingulum is usually represented as terminating in an ordinary strap and buckle, while the leather of which it consists is overlaid with mountings of decorative metal work, these being occasionally of circular shape. Sometimes the girdle terminates in front in an apron-like arrangement of leather straps, usually strengthened by studs inserted into it and ending in decorative terminals of metal. Metal objects which must have formed part of girdles were by no means uncommon at Newstead, though it is not always easy to distinguish them from mountings which had been attached to harness. One set of mountings is, however, specially noticeable, and must have belonged to the belt of some soldier of rank. It came from Pit XXVII.

Figure 13


This consists of two circular plates of brass (Plate XXV., Figs. 37 and 38), and three rectangular plates of the same metal (Figs. 42, 43, and 44). The circular plates are each three inches in diameter, and the edges are turned over to catch a thin plate of silver embossed in the centre, which is in the form of a rosette. The plates, the back view of which is shown in Fig. 13 above, were fastened to the leather belt by small round flat-headed bronze studs. On one of the plates five of these remain. From the edge of the same plate depends a small T-shaped catch of copper, seven-sixteenths of an inch in length. The purpose for which this catch was designed is evident from an examination of the small rectangular plate (Fig. 43) two and a half inches by one and three-eighth inches, which was also included in the find.

1 Lindenschmit, Tracht und Bewaffung des römischen Heeres, p. 8.