25 July 2017

Sound of 500 cavalry horses recreated at Hadrian's Wall

The unique mechanical installation at Chesters Roman Fort in North Tyne is a first of its kind for English Heritage
A man dressed as  Roman soldier on a horse

The sound of 2000 hooves will bring to life the story of the Roman cavalry at Hadrian's Wall in the 2nd century with a new on-site art installation.

The cavalry were the backbone of the Roman frontier garrisons and were instrumental in defending the Roman Empire.

Now with Cavalry 360° English Heritage will recreate the atmosphere of Chesters Roman Fort, which was a hub for the elite auxiliary forces. Chesters Roman Fort is the best-preserved Roman cavalry fort in Britain.

A close up of the installation 'Cavalry 360'

English Heritage Senior Curator, Kevin Booth, said:

'The exhibition will place you in the midst of a busy garrison, give you a sense of a Roman cavalryman mid charge or as an aggressor awaiting their fate.

'Our ethos of 'bringing history to life' is perfectly encapsulated in this unique installation. This really is a once in a lifetime event and a first for English Heritage.'

Artist Mark Nixon, whose company NEON created the installation, said:

'This was an incredibly ambitious and challenging brief that called for a project that would retell the story of the Chesters' cavalry in a way that would be engaging and exciting.

'The challenge of describing something that was no longer physically there, the cavalry, and acknowledging the way the horse changed mankind's relationship to the landscape were key to our approach for the commission.'

Chesters Roman Fort ruins

How does the installation work?

Cavalry 360° uses drum-like musical instruments to create the thunder of 2000 hooves moving across the landscape. 32 wind turbines will drive hundreds of mini beaters to generate an ever-changing rhythm.

At 3.5 metres high and 12 metres wide, the unique installation has been commissioned by English Heritage as part of the Hadrian's Cavalry exhibition - a multi-partner project funded by Arts Council England.

Two men on horses riding by Hadrian's Wall

Visitors can experience the sound of Hadrian's cavalry for themselves at Chester's Roman Fort from 26 July until 5 November.

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