Belts, Baldrics, and Waistbands

Recommended Belts


Mainz Belt (Tinned) - Based on a set of finds from Mainz, offered by Soul of the Warrior. First half 1st Century AD.

Mainz Belt (Brass) - Based on a set of finds from Mainz, offered by Soul of the Warrior. First half 1st Century AD.

 

Oberstimm Wolf and Twins Belt - Based on a set of finds from Oberstimm, depicts the wolf and twins, the emblem of Legio VI! Offered by Soul of the Warrior. First half 1st Century AD.

 

Tekije Belt - Based on a set of finds from Tekije, Croatia, and offered by Soul of the Warrior. First half 1st Century AD.

 

Or make your own:
 

Clang Armory - Great selection of apron studs, plates, and terminals. All items are available in bronze, brass, or tinned. Consult before purchasing.

HR Replikate - If you'd like to make your own, this site sells some of the best part options. Consult before purchasing.

 

Replik Shop - If you'd like to make your own, this site sells some of the best part options. Consult before purchasing.

History​

 

Balteus vel Cingulum

The balteus is something that can be considered a non-standard piece of equipment.  While it was probably a required item to have, it was probably not issued at random but more carefully chosen, adorned, and augmented by the individual legionary.  During the Republic and early Imperial periods of Rome it was common to have a pair of belts worn crossed, one belt carrying the gladius and the other the pugio.  When the lorica segmentata was introduced sometime during the early first century AD, the single belt was introduced.  Now this belt can carry both the gladius and pugio or just the pugio having the gladius suspended from a baldric.  This doesn't mean that if you wear lorica hamata that you have to have two belts: it is recommended you have one for our time period.  On Trajan's Column in Rome there are scenes that depict legionaries with lorica segmentata that have up to four belts, but scholars believe this is a misinterpretation by the sculpture.

The leather is three to six ounce and can be left plain or dyed any other color.  In any case it should be well-coated with neatsfoot oil.  Do NOT use leather that is too thick!  If you use an 8-ounce belt blank you may not be able to get the belt end through the buckle.  The buckle is most often seen on the right end of the belt, while the free end is narrowed to fit it.  Be sure to position the dagger frogs far enough apart to accept your pugio scabbard, about 6" to 7" between the centers of the discs.  Make sure that you make the belt long enough to wear with just your tunic and with your armor.

The size of the plates during this period are around 1.5" to 2" wide and 1.5" to 3" long.  The plates are generally stamped from thin sheets (.010") of brass that can be tinned or even silvered.  Other plates what seem to be cast are really stamped designs on sheets of brass (16 to 18 gauge).  Plates that have concentric circles are common with the ends of the plates rolled over.  Now these plates are riveted to the belt by flat or domed solid copper rivets. They can be riveted through the plates themselves or soldered to the back of the plates.  The washers can be round or square.

Here is what “Roman Military Equipment: From the Punic Wars to the Fall of Rome” by M.C. Bishop & J.C.N. Coulston has to say about the balteus:

 

"Although traditionally known as the cingulum militare (or militiae), there is good reason to believe that the Roman military waist-belt of the 1st century AD was actually simply called a balteus.  The term cingulum is hardly ever found before the 3rd century AD; Varro stated that cinctus was a belt worn by men, cingillum that worn by women.  Papyri and literary sources suggest that balteus is the more correct term, for in a letter of AD 99 Terentianus' sister Apollonous wrote to him in Greek that 'I understood from Thermouthas that you obtained for yourself a pair of belts [using the Greek Baltion, equivalent to the Latin balteum], and I was much gratified.'  Another fragmentary letter of the early 2nd century AD, written by Claudius Terentianus to his father Claudius Tiberianus, includes the phrase balteum militare.  The Tiberianus archive also has a letter from one Tabatheus to Tiverianus  which refers to the fact that a relative 'sent your son Isidorus to you so that [he might take to you] you belts (baltea).'  Pliny the Elder shed more light on this terminlolgical problem when he discussed the soldiers' habit of silvering military equipment, noting that 'their scabbards ring with silver links and their belts (baltea) with silver plates'.  Tacitus recorded that when Vitellius needed to raise money for his attempted usurpation in AD 69, soldiers handed over their belts (the word 'baltei' is used) in lieu of cash.  Isidore of Seville simply stated that 'the balteus is the military belt'."

Belt Apron

The apron to the balteus is often called a sporran or groin-guard, but through living history demonstrations it is found that it can case more harm than good!  It is believed that the apron came about by having the split ends of the belt hang and eventually caught on all over the empire.

 

The apron can be made up of four (4) to eight (8) leather strips ranging in width from three quarters (3/4") to one (1") inch wide, and length be from six (6") to twelve (12") inches long.  The leather for the aprong should not be thicker than the belt itself.  How ever long you make it, it should not hang below the bottom of your tunic.

 

On each strip of the apron there where studs attached to it.  These studs can be cast with a peg on the back to serve as a rivet or have a metal disc and solder a rivet to the back of the disc.  You can also cut a disc out of brass, punch a hole in the disc and rivet that to the strip.  These studs can be a circle, square, or rectangle in shape as well as have designs carved or cast in them. 

 

At the end of each strip there was a terminal that always had dangly on it.  This dangly can be a simple disc or a disc with its own dangly, a tear drop, or even a crescent moon.  They are attached by two (2) rivets on the leather strip.  These are cut from thin sheets of metal and can have simple designs stamped into them. 

 

Like the belt you have several options when you design your apron.  The first would have to be how many leather straps do you want?  You have between four (4) and eight (8) and no longer than twelve (12) inches long.  When you decide on the length of the straps keep in mind they should not hang below your tunic.  Dye it the same color as the belt or you can have it a different color.  The decoration of the apron straps is some what complex.  The apron studs can be simple handmade brass washers with a rivet in the middle, to ornate discs.  The strap terminals can be simple and common tear drop in shape to beautifully punched discs with three dangles on the disc.

 

Here is what “Roman Military Equipment: From the Punic Wars to the Fall of Rome” by M.C. Bishop & J.C.N. Coulston has to say about the apron.

 

"It is commonly held that the 'apron' (also sometimes erroneously called the 'sporran' a Gaelic word for purse), as it has become known, originated in the elaboration of the belt terminals with studs each.  This process, it is said, can be seen on the sculptural evidence.  The tombstone of the aquilifer Cn. Musius from Mainz shows the end of his belt divided into four straps, each with terminal pendant, three of these hanging freely, the fourth passing through the buckle and thus appearing shorter.  Two reliefs from Pula are also pertinent here.  One shows a Pompeii-type sword and belt, complete with belt-plates, to which it is evidently attached.  At the opposite end to the buckle, the belt is divided into two straps, each of which is studded, with a lunate terminal.  The other sculpture shows a dagger  attached to a belt (again with belt-plates) which ends in four straps with crude representations of terminals.  The arch at Orange represents plated belts with terminals.  Finally, the fragmentary tombstone relief from Cassacco shows two crossed belts, the ends of which hang freely as an apron.

 

Care must be exercised, however, because the bulk of the representational evidence can be dated only very approximately.  In fact, it could equally well be argued that different 'apron' traditions developed in different areas, or that a range of forms were in use at the same time."

Fascia Ventralis

The fascia ventralis is a wasitband worn under the balteus.  Now this wasitband could be their to hide the many folds of the tunic when not working, to protect the tunic from the sharp edges of the metal on the back side of the balteus, or even to enhance the status of the soldier like the balteus itself.  Pliny the Elder writes that a soldiers ventralis was made of rough wool and late Roman frescoes shows soldiers wearing the same color scarf and wasitband.

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