Put simply Comitatus is the home of Roman riding in Britain. In terms of equipment, horses, riders and professional display we lead the way and set the standard for others to aspire to. We actively engage Roman riding and supply other groups with saddles and equipment.
In reconstruction the major interest lies not so much in the reconstructed artefact itself, but how it is used and how it functioned. In the field of reconstruction, Peter Connolly’s work on the Romano-Celtic saddle stands out as the premier example of what can be achieved. Connolly used the surviving evidence in the form of leather covers, their stitching, stretch and wear marks, as well as metal horn plates, to produce a working Romano-Celtic saddle. He produced a design based upon a solid wooden four-horned frame. Since then a piece of wood has been found at Carlisle which corresponds to the cantle of Connolly’s proposed saddle frame, and surviving leather covers show wear marks evidencing wooden side boards belonging to a frame. Connolly produced around 25 working saddles and Comitatus is now also producing them.
However this accepted view is still regularly challenged by some and the construction of Roman saddles is still a source for debate, not all of it friendly. Various other attempts have been made to reproduce four-horned saddles using alternatives to the solid wooden frame, in part perhaps to justify simpler and cheaper reconstructions. The size of the existing leather covers and the function of the copper alloy horn plates are still a source for experimentation. However all the points regularly made by contributors to the debate today were first examined by Peter Connolly and Carol Van Driel Murray in their article “The Roman Saddle” in Britannia Volume XXII, back in 1991.
Comitatus has demonstrated that wooden framed saddles can be used on a variety of horses using furs, padding and appropriately folded saddles cloths. We have developed the Connolly design of saddle based on two saddle covers presented at the Carlisle Millennium Project conference in 2004. These covers used roughly the same stitch pattern used on other examples, but these covers retained trapezoidal flaps of leather which would hang down the sides of the horse. They demonstrate that rather than just being sewn up under the saddle as originally believed, leather covers could be secured over the horns and wooden frame of the saddle. The triplet straps could be used to secure the leather cover to the wooden frame.
The size of the horse used is vital to establish the speed of manoeuvre. Much work needs to be done in terms of tack and Roman bits, yet many period bits are now perceived and understood to be cruel, and it is not necessary or desirable to reconstruct them to manoeuvre or control the horse.
Click on the articles in the list below. They are stored as either Internet pages or PDF files.
History Of The Unit
The History of the Equites Taifali
The origins of the Late Roman Cavalry unit stationed in Northern Britain in the 4th Century.
Adventures in the Roman Cavalry
Comitatus' initial development of a new kind of British cavalry re-enactment.
Roman saddle choices and using the kontos.
Saddle improvements and skills learned.
Latest progress report.
Latest progress report.