GLADIATORS descended on a South Tyneside Roman fort to battle it out.
The professional fighters were at Arbeia in Baring Street, South Shields, on Saturday.
Families and history buffs looked on as gladiators Lupus and Priscus (Lance Prince and Gary Rodwell in real life) fought it out to be crowned Champion of Arbeia.
The soldiers, from Roman Tours Ltd, were overseen by referee Occtratius Gittus (Paul Harston), who kicked off the event by telling the crowd all about gladiators and putting some common misunderstandings to bed – including the fact that gladiators often did not fight to the death, because they were simply too expensive to waste.
Hayley Withers, 43, from Marsden, South Shields, was at the fort with her sons Max, three, and Shane, six.
She said: “It’s been entertaining and I’ve actually really enjoyed myself, but we came for the kids really – they love anything like this.”
Beth Foster, 29, from Sunderland, was there with husband Daniel, also 29, and their two children, Ollie, 18 months, and Lewis, five.
She said: “I remember coming here when I was a kid, but this is the first time we’ve been as a family, and it’s absolutely brilliant.
“The gladiator fighting was fantastic and the kids loved watching it.
“It was quite educational as well, and you’d expect the kids to zone out for that bit, but they were mesmerised.”
Gayle Steel, of Holder House, South Shields, visited the fort with her children Emma, two, and Joe, four.
The 34-year-old cake-maker said: “I really enjoyed watching the gladiators and the kids did too – Joe loved it. We come here quite a lot, it’s great for the kids.”
Visitors could also explore the ruins of the fort, and see some birds of prey up close.
The collection of birds, provided by Baywings, included owls and hawks, and brave kids could even pose for a snap with them.