A Horrible Histories Exhibition On The Rotten Romans Is Coming To London

Many of our roots with anything history-related probably come from Horrible Histories, the hilarious series of illustrated history books of Terry Deary for children and the outrageously comedic historical sketch show born from the books. Horrible Histories taught us about the Groovy Greeks, Vicious Vikings, Terrible Tudors, Gorgeous Georgians, Vile Victorians and many many more in an easily digestible family-friendly way which to be honest could still appeal to older audiences, and are now bringing an exhibition all about the Rotten Romans to the British Museum.

The upcoming exhibition, Legion: life in the Roman Army, will be the first time the British Museum will be partnering with Horrible Histories, author Terry Deary and illustrator Martin Brown’s bestselling book series, with an interactive family-friendly trail led by the show’s host Rattus Rattus.

Gold coin - oath-taking scene between two soliders © The Trustees of the British Museum
Gold coin – oath-taking scene between two soliders © The Trustees of the British Museum

Held in the museum’s Sainsbury Exhibition Gallery from February 1 – June 23 2024, families will see Rattus, who will be renamed Claudius Terrattus, go on a journey to become a soldier in the Roman army. Throughout the exhibition, Rattus will face the same trials and tribulations that soldiers 2,000 years ago would have had, explain his ambitions to become a soldier and witness the dangers and rewards that life in the army would have had. Legion will share stories of real legionaries and challenge some of the perceptions of what it meant to be a Roman soldier in a formidable empire.

Along the Horrible Histories themed trail there will be a variety of interactive stations where visitors can take part in the exhibition and immerse themselves in Ancient Rome as Rattus guides them through the trail, including over 200 carefully chosen family-friendly exhibition objects to be highlighted along the way, accompanied by commentary from Rattus himself.

Outside the British Museum
Credit: Mltz / Shutterstock

Richard Abdy, Curator of Roman and Iron Age coins comments: “Fun facts are well-remembered facts, so a pinch of humour is a welcome ingredient. Horrible Histories excels at entertaining while reminding kids of all ages that history can be a lot grimmer than the popular imagination – the perfect antidote to a show on the Roman army.”

2023 marks the Horrible Histories brand’s 30th anniversary and is a testament to how well they can make learning fun for younger audiences. The exhibition hopes to instil curiosity about what daily life was really like for the men, women and children who were part of the machine that helped Imperial Rome master its empire in an exciting way for children of all ages.

For more information, head to the British Museum’s website here.

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