GLADIATORS are to return to do battle at an ancient Roman palace and gardens.

The annual gladiator weekend at Fishbourne Roman Palace and Gardens will be taking place once again after last year's event was cancelled due to the pandemic.

Sussex Past, a charity that helps people learn about the county's heritage, owns the palace and is inviting people to watch Britannia in combat this coming weekend.

Britannia is a re-enactment society that worked on Ridley Scott's film Gladiator, starring Russell Crowe.

The gladiators will be armed with a sword, shield and helmet and will show off different fighting techniques before the crowd decides who wins.

Melanie Marsh, property manager at Fishbourne Roman Palace and Gardens, said many people found themselves fighting for survival in the arenas of ancient Rome and Roman Britain.

She said: "Gladiators were often criminals, soldiers who had rebelled on the wrong side in mutinies and slaves who were born and bred to fight. But some chose to be gladiators and risked their lives in the hope they would find fame and fortune.

"The renowned gladiators were the celebrities of their day. But of course, being a gladiator was brutal. People were violently killed, and everyone would go to watch – rich and poor.

"While the residents at Fishbourne Roman Palace wouldn't have hosted gladiator games themselves, they would have known about them as there were at least 20 Roman amphitheatres in Britain – including one in Chichester."

As well as watching the gladiator battles, visitors will also be able to take part in gladiator training, sword practice and play traditional Roman games such as Nine Men Morris, a strategy board game.

The gladiators event will take place from 10am until 5pm over the weekend. Tickets can be booked in advance and are £12.50 for adults, £5.50 for children, and £12.15 for seniors.

Family tickets start from £18.50 for one adult and up to three children, and £33.50 for two adults and up to four children. Tickets can be bought from or at the door.

Sussex Past, the trading name of the Sussex Archaeological Society, is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year.