A dramatic new art installation brings back to life an ancient Roman fort as it would have sounded more than 1600 years ago. Cavalry 360 recreates the sound of 500 galloping horses at an old fortification along the famous Hadrian’s Wall in northern England. The installation is at Chesters Roman Fort, one of the wall’s most famous attractions and the best preserved Roman cavalry base along it.
It uses the force of the wind to create the sound of cavalry horses moving across the verdant landscape of Northumberland. It is arranged in a circular fashion so visitors can step inside for what feels like a surround sound stereo system experience. As the wind increases, the noise from beaters being flicked against a wooden block speeds up mimicking the sound a horse’s hooves would make whilst moving from a trot to a gallop.
Kevin Booth, senior curator at English Heritage, said it was “a bespoke piece of work in a remarkable setting that will be both though-provoking and fun. It will place you in the midst of a busy garrison,” he said, “or give you a sense of a Roman cavalryman mid charge or as an aggressor awaiting their fate.”
Mark Nixon of NEON, the design company who created it, said: “The challenge of describing something that was no longer physically there, the Cavalry – and acknowledging the way the horse changed mankind’s relation to the landscape were key to our approach.” It took six months of testing to make the experience as realistic as possible. The installation will be open to visitors until 5 November .
Cavalry 360 is part of a wider exhibition called Hadrian’s Cavalry that took place at ten museums and sights along the length of the 73-mile long wall this summer. Hadrian’s Wall has been a UNESCO world heritage site for twenty years. It’s often wrongly thought to mark the frontier between England and Scotland … in fact, it is further south with some sections up to 100 kilometres away from the actual border.