More than 2,000 years after Roman legions conquered much of the known world, a contingent of armored legionaries will “return” to York, namesake of their home base in Britannia, to march in the Yorkfest parade and attend the opening of the Clayton Museum of Ancient History on the York College Campus.

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Legion Six Victrix, a group of “living historians” based in Los Angeles, Calif., will bring the glory of ancient Rome to the Yorkfest festivities on Saturday, September 12, starting with the Yorkfest parade at 10 a.m. and continuing throughout the day at the York College campus, where they will participate in the grand opening of the Clayton Museum of Ancient History. There is no cost for admission to the museum, which will be open from 1-4 p.m. on September 12. The ribbon cutting for the museum will be held at 1 p.m.

“The Sixth Roman Legion was originally based in the city we now called York, England, so attending Yorkfest will be something of a homecoming for us,” said David Michaels, president and Centurion of the Legion Six Historical Foundation. “Also, we have been very involved in the creation of the Clayton Museum of Ancient History and are delighted to be part of the opening ceremonies.”

Legion Six was founded in 2001 in the Los Angeles area and recreates a contingent of Legio VI Victrix, the 5,000-man military force that patrolled northern Britannia near Hadrian’s Wall for about three centuries, from AD 120 to 410, according to Michaels. The legion has performed at events around California and has been featured in numerous TV productions, most recently in a national Kia commercial with pro basketball star Blake Griffin, which aired during the NBA playoffs.
The legionaries will also set up a small camp featuring a leather tent, similar to the types actually used in Roman marching camps, and a powerful arrow-shooting artillery piece called a ballista on the York College campus. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to demonstrate how siege machines operated and why the Roman Army was the greatest military force to walk the earth in ancient times,” Michaels said.The clothing, armor, weapons, and equipment worn by Legion Six members are all accurately based on actual Roman artifacts, sculptures and literary descriptions. “Our mission is to inform and educate the public about this important period in history, and about the role the Roman legions played in spreading Roman civilization around Europe,” Michaels said. “We strive to be as accurate as possible, and to give people a ‘hands-on’ historical experience. It’s a very effective way of teaching history!”

Legion Six has also been involved in the creation of the Clayton Museum of Ancient History featuring the Stanback collection at York College. “Mr. Stanback has been our biggest supporter for many years and we had the privilege of curating his collection of genuine Roman military artifacts, which we called the Museum of the Ancient Roman Soldier,” said Dr. L. Arik Greenberg, one of the legion’s founding members. “We’re delighted to see this wonderful collection find a home at York College, a place where it will find an eager audience and be truly treasured.”

Greenberg noted that the Roman legions’ role in the early spread and survival of Christianity will be showcased at the Clayton Museum. “Rome’s army was in an unusual position, being called upon to suppress and persecute early Christians,” he noted, “while at the same time many soldiers were Christians themselves and helped spread the religion wherever the Legions were stationed throughout the Empire.”

All are invited to “meet the Romans” during their visit to York by attending the Clayton Museum opening and visiting the nearby legionary camp in the field beside the Mackey Center (where the museum is housed). Legion Six will be on parade through the city from 10 – 11 a.m. and will be encamped at the campus through the rest of the day, from noon to 5 p.m.