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What did the Romans ever do for me? 1

To provide a complete assembly play script for Yr 5 children studying Roman Britain.

by Tony Gay

Suitable for Key Stage 2


To provide a complete assembly play script written for Year 5 KS2 children studying 'Invaders and Settlers', focusing on Roman Britain.

Preparation and materials

  • This play was successfully performed as an assembly in front of 320 children and 60+ parents. It lasted about 30 minutes, including a prayer and a song.
  • In its current form, this offers a full comprehensive class assembly requiring curriculum time to develop and rehearse; but it can be adapted. Children can use their own words and you can pick and mix the different elements. You could also split the different parts over a number of assemblies.
  • Because of its length, we have published this assembly in two parts. It continues in What Did the Romans Ever Do For Me? 2.


Scene: Stage set as a classroom. The teacher (played by one of the children) is standing and the children are sitting on floor, listening.

Teacher: Right, sit up straight and look at me. That's better. Now, this term our class have been studying 'Invaders and Settlers'. In particular we have been studying the Romans, and how they invaded England 2,000 years ago.

So, who can tell me what the people were called who were living in England before the Romans came?

Child 1: They were called Celts.

Teacher: Excellent. Yes, they were called the Celts and they lived in England 2,000 years ago. They were mostly farmers. In those days people usually lived in small villages - there were few towns and no cities at all. There were no shops either. Their houses were huts, with walls made of woven sticks and thatched roofs. Also, there were no roads anywhere, only dirt tracks - which became mud baths in wet weather, so travelling anywhere was very difficult.

Child 1: Yuk.

Teacher: Yes, well, 2,000 years ago the Roman army, which was the most powerful army in the world, conquered parts of Britain. They stole all of the Celts' land and made slaves of most of the Celts. They occupied this country for about 400 years before returning to Italy. (Pointing at Child 1) You're not listening to me. Please pay attention.

Child 1: Well … what do I care about the Romans? What did the Romans ever do for me? A load of bloodthirsty savages weren't they?

(Curtain or blackout. Stage clears. Roman soldier marches onto stage. Soldier and Child 1 on stage.)

Soldier (yelling at Child 1): Bloodthirsty savages? Listen, I'll show you what the Romans did for you.
(He points his sword like a magic wand. Enter Roads People.)

Roads People (split up speech between them): Before the Romans came to Britain there were no towns or cities - there were not even any shops. The Romans built many of the towns and cities that we have today - such as Bath, Exeter and Colchester. They built roads between towns and cities all over the country, straight roads built of stone, many of which are still in use today, 1,800 years after they were first built!

This enabled people and goods to move around the country more easily, and so trade developed. This meant that Britain became a richer and more powerful country.

They also invented the milepost, which tells you how far away the next town or village is.

Soldier: What about that then?

Child 1: Big deal!

Soldier: Very well, what about this then?
(He points his sword like a magic wand. Enter Concrete People.)

Concrete People (split up speech between them): Many of the houses in Britain today are built using concrete. The Romans invented concrete. They found that if they mixed lime, small stones and water together with sand, it would quickly set very hard. It was like being able to make your own stone in any shape you liked.

The Romans built a building in Rome called the Pantheon. It is roofed with a huge concrete dome, 45 metres wide. It is nearly 2,000 years old and is still in use today.

Of course, when the Roman Empire fell, their secret formula for concrete was lost for 1,400 years, and wasn't rediscovered until 200 years ago.

Soldier: What about that then?

Child 1: Big deal!

Soldier: Very well! What about this then?
(He points his sword like a magic wand. Enter Plumbers.)

Plumbers (split up speech between them): You know that you have piped water and central heating in your houses? Well, 2,000 years ago, rich Romans had piped running water and central heating in their homes. They had a big fire under the floor, which was looked after by slaves.

The warm air from the fire warmed the floors and walls of the house. This central heating system was called a hypocaust, and was the first central heating system in the world.

The Celts got their water from rivers or springs, but the Romans had lead water pipes which brought water to baths and fountains in rich people's homes - just like you have in your homes today.

The Romans also built public baths and toilets in their cities, and used lead pipes to take the water to them. Some older homes in Britain still have lead water pipes.

Soldier: What about that then?

Child 1: Big deal!

Soldier: Very well! What about this then?
(He points his sword like a magic wand. Enter Writers.)

Writers (split up speech between them): You know that all your books are made by printing in a factory? Well, the Romans had printing factories 2,000 years ago. This is how they would make a sort of Roman book called a scroll.

If it took one hour to write one page of writing, then imagine how long it would take to write 2,000 pages.

Child 1: 2,000 hours, of course.

Soldier: Yes, that's right. One very clever Roman would stand at the front reading out the text. 2,000 clever slaves with pens would carefully copy down what he said onto 2,000 pieces of paper. This would produce 2,000 copies from one copy in a very short time. This was the first sort of printing factory.

Well? What about that then?

Child 1: Big deal!

Soldier: Oh dear! It's a good job I'm such a patient soldier, isn't it! So, what about this then?
(He points his sword like a magic wand. Enter Doctors.)

Doctors (split up speech between them): You know that when you are sick, then you go to the doctor? Well, the Romans had lots and lots of doctors. They were excellent at cutting off arms and legs, and they stopped the bleeding by using a red-hot iron and bandaging.

They had powerful pain-killing drugs made from plants, but usually the patient was just tied down onto a table and the doctor worked at top speed, completely ignoring any cries.

The doctors were ever so clever because they did not have any training at all - so, for instance, you could be a doctor this afternoon if you wanted to.

Soldier: Are you impressed now?

Child 1: Doctors with no training? Cutting off legs with saws? No, I'm not!

Soldier: Oh dear - I didn't realize that you were such a scaredy-cat! Afraid of going to the doctor, eh? Well, what about this then?
(He points his sword like a magic wand. Enter Christians.)

Christians (split up speech between them): Before the Romans came to England, the Celts used to worship trees and stuff. Of course, the early Romans worshipped the sun and other gods. Just as Rome began to be ruled by emperors, a man called Jesus began preaching a new religion of peace and love. He wasn't interested in riches, or being worshipped as a powerful emperor. He taught that God treated everyone with equal mercy and loved everyone equally.

This new religion was called Christianity. It gave hope to many people who lived in a society based on slavery and cruelty. It quickly spread across the Roman Empire.

Christians refused to worship the emperors as gods, so thousands were burnt alive or thrown to the lions. Then in AD 312, 1,700 years ago, Emperor Constantine became a Christian himself. He stopped the persecution and Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire.

Soldier: What about that then? You must be impressed now!

Child 1: I might be, just a little!

(At this point you could introduce the song and reflection or you could continue with What Did the Romans Ever Do For Me? 2, using the song and reflection at the end of the whole assembly.)

Time for reflection

Dear God,
Thank you for Class ___ and their work on the Romans.
Help us all, and help the world, to learn from the past,
enjoying and celebrating the good things,
and learning from the mistakes,
so that we can become better people.


'Spirit of peace' (Come and Praise, 85)

Publication date: December 2001   (Vol.3 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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