The Arbeia Roman Fort and Museum shows off the excavated remains of a Roman fort, first built c AD 160 (occupied for only 20 years) and the again in AD 205-07. It was the military supply base for 17 forts along Hadrianís Wall. Although not on Hadrian ís Wall, it commanded the port on the riverside overlooking the mouth of the River Tyne. Four miles away is the eastern end of Hadrian ís Wall at Wallsend.
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The area of the fort first covered 4.1 acres. 480 foot soldiers and 120 cavalry lived here. The cavalry occupied two barracks. About AD 205-07 the fort was increased in size to 5.2 acres and the buildings were mostly torn down and replaced with granaries. A headquarters building was added along with new accommodation. These new features were built because of the campaigns against the Scottish. Further changes took place with seven more granaries added and a new headquarters building.
After the Scottish campaigns the fort was again rebuilt (AD 222-235) and grain was brought across the sea for the troops. The fort was burned down in the late 3rd/early 4th century and once again was rebuilt with the granaries being changed into barracks. The fort continued being occupied for the time the Romans remained in Britain (until early 5th century) and on beyond that time. However the granary in the north part was demolished and eventually the fort was no longer inhabited.
On the site is a reconstructed Roman gate, barrack, and commanding officerís courtyard house. The gate has two towers with two carriageways. The barrack has stone bonded with clay outside walls with internal wooden frame partitions plastered with clay and whitewashed. The barrack has five suites of rooms, each holding eight soldiers. The commanding officerís house, around a courtyard, has a summer dining room and a suite of four rooms. The rooms are decorated with replica textiles and furniture. A winter dining room, kitchen, stables, and baths have not been reconstructed.
The museum on site holds the treasures found on the site digs which are still taking place. Engraved gemstones, decorated metalwork, glassware, lead sealings, brooches, military fittings, altars, tombstones, and coins are among the finds. An outstanding find was the tombstone of Egina, who was the wife of Barates from a tribe of St Albans. Her husband was from Palmyra in Syria.
Arbeia Roman Fort and Museum
Baring St, South Shields NE33 2BB
Tel. 0191 456 1369
Open: Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm; Sat, 11am-4pm; Sun,1-4pm; Oct-end March, closed
Web: Arbeia Roman Fort and Museum