Segedunum Roman Fort

Segedunum Roman Fort was one of the ancient Roman wall forts of Hadrian’s Wall, the iconic UNESCO-listed barrier built under the Emperor Hadrian from 122 AD.

There were several wall forts along the 73-mile stretch of Hadrian’s Wall, each garrisoned by Roman soldiers. From around 122 AD, Segedunum Roman Fort held 600 soldiers and was one of the eastern forts along the wall. It would continue to perform this role for a period of around 300 years. After this time, the fate of Segedunum Roman Fort is unknown, except that it was built over in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries only to be uncovered from the 1970s onwards.

The interactive museum at Segedunum Roman Fort displays a myriad of finds excavated at the site of the fort including armour and weaponry. It also houses everyday objects including one very unique object – the only known Roman British stone toilet seat.

Visitors to Segedunum Roman Fort can view the remains of the fort itself as well as its reconstructed Roman baths. Segedunum Roman Fort is also a good place to see a section of Hadrian’s Wall, especially from atop the 35 metre viewing tower.

There is free car parking available at the venue with 4 accessible spaces near to the main entrance. Please note this car park is gated and only accessible during museum opening hours. We do not accept any responsibility for cars left over night and cannot provide access after the gates have closed.

We welcome assistance dogs. Reception can provide a bowl of water. Please note that there are no specific 'spending' areas located around Segedunum for assistance dogs to use.

Other than for assistance, dogs are not allowed on the Fort Site, Wall Site or in the museum building. They can be taken on Hadrian’s Wall Path and to the Original Bath House remains.

Segedunum Roman Fort explores multicultural roots of Hadrian's Wall

Exhibition: An Archaeology of Race: Exploring the Northern Frontier in Roman Britain, Segedunum Roman Fort, Wallsend until September 13, then Tullie House Gallery, Carlisle, September 19 – August 25 2010

A new exhibition at Segedunum Roman Fort aims to challenge perceptions of World Heritage Site Hadrian's Wall by unravelling its cultural heritage and highlighting its surprising multicultural history.

An Archaeology of Race: Exploring the Northern Frontier in Roman Britain is part of Tales of the Frontier, a Durham University project (Archaeology with Geography) which aims to explore the significance of Hadrian's Wall and its landscape as both political and cultural landscape and monument.

"The Romans who lived on the Hadrian's Wall Frontier certainly weren't all from Rome,” says Dr Divya Tolia-Kelly, Lecturer in Geography at Durham University. "Through telling their stories we hope to show people what an exciting and culturally diverse place the North of England was at this time."

A range of revealing archaeological materials and narratives reflecting multicultural Roman Britain are displayed in the exhibition, which explores the North of England during this time as a space of migration and cultural diversity.

Evidence suggests cultural influences of military units stationed at Hadrian’s Wall from North Africa, Spain, France, Germany, Syria and other provinces of the Roman Empire.

The Tombstone of Regina

One of the ways visitors can discover this level of cultural diversity is through artefacts relating to Septimius Severus, a Roman Emperor born in Leptis Magna, one of the great colonized cities of Roman Africa.

Severus came to the North-East of England to campaign against tribes north of the Wall. The exhibition will feature baggage sealings made of lead showing Severus with his sons, Caracalla and Geta. The sealings were found at South Shields and suggest that at some point the emperor and his family were based at Arbeia Roman Fort.

Stories told in the exhibition also include the biography of an ex-slave commemorated by a tombstone at Arbeia Roman Fort, a copy of which is on show. Regina was the British wife and former slave of Barates, who is thought to have been stationed at Arbeia during the fourth century. She was from the area now known as St Albans, while her husband was from the great desert city of Palmyra in Syria.

His first language would have been Aramaic, similar to modern Hebrew, and her tombstone features an inscription of mourning in this language which he added to the Latin text.

An Archaeology of Race is accompanied at Segedunum by Names Set in Stone, an exhibition telling the story of the men who built Hadrian's Wall through inscriptions found on stones within it.

The mystery of a bath house buried beneath a former Roman fort has been solved in a jackpot-striking dig

Organisers behind the WallQuest project have spent years knowing that a Roman bath, containing a steamroom, cold and tepid rooms and a gym on the outside of the walls of Segedunum Roman Fort, was somewhere near the grounds of a demolished pub.

Extensive detective work by volunteers persuaded Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums to dig a hole at the old boozer.

“We dug some trial trenches at the end of May and we were pretty sure from what we found there that we were on the site,” says Nick Hodgson, the Project Manager.

“We enlarged the site and began to find traces of wall lines and so on, which confirmed that we were on the site of a major Roman building.

“We’ve seen enough of the remains now to be 100 percent certain that we have the site of the fort bath house.

“In particular, we’ve got a Roman cement-lined cold plunged bath, which absolutely puts the tin lid on it.

“We’ve only got a tiny fragment of it exposed at the moment - because of where it is we might never get the whole of it exposed - but it looks to be in good condition.”

Soldiers and civilians both used the baths, although it is unclear whether men and women bathed together.

“It was simply one of those longstanding mysteries. There is this reference in literature, an account of the discovery of a building that sounded very like the fort baths in 1814, when a coal wagon way was being constructed – the wooden supports were being put in to lead down to the river.

“There is a rather unhelpful description of it which doesn’t exactly describe it as baths but makes it sound like them to the trained eye. But of course it doesn’t say exactly where it was.

“The description made it sound as if it should be in the vicinity of the old Ship in the Hole, so when that was demolished and the site became available it obviously became a focus of interest.”

Hodgson says residents have played a vital role in the search.

“Local people have driven it,” he explains. “We wouldn’t have been able to do it without the volunteers – it shows what can be found out by mobilising the local community.

“We get people coming along who’ve just seen archaeology digs on the television and they want to give it a go.

“We’ve got people who worked in the shipyard and that sort of thing – they’re just fascinated that these Roman baths have come to light immediately next to where they used to work.”

One onlooker with memories was Iain Watson, the Director of the museums group.

“Twenty-eight years ago, when I worked in Wallsend, I occasionally had a sandwich at lunchtime in the Ship in the Hole,” he recalls.

“Little did I think I was sitting on top of a Roman bath house.

“When we ask ‘what did the Romans ever do for us?’, one of the first things we come up with is the introduction of baths and central heating.

“The bath house really was a central part of Roman society, both civil and military. This is a fantastic find, particularly given the coincidence that it is 200 years since the remains of the baths were last seen.”

A full excavation is not imminent, but those volunteers will be busy above the bath this summer.

“The odds of actually hitting it first time are pretty remote. It’s very gratifying that we hit it at the first attempt,” says Hodgson.

“I think we’re very lucky, really, when you think we could have easily put our trial trenches in and just missed it.

“This is the first dig we’ve done at Wallsend and it’s hit the jackpot straight away.”

Today [ edit | edit source ]

The viewing platform at the Segedunum Visitor Centre

The site of the fort now contains the excavated remains of the buildings' foundation of the original fort, as well as a reconstructed Roman military bathhouse based on excavated examples at Vindolanda and Chesters forts. A museum contains items of interest that were found when the site was excavated and a large observation tower overlooks the site. A portion of the original wall is visible across the street from the museum, and a reconstruction of what the whole wall might have looked like. This eastern portion of Hadrian's Wall was erected atop the Whin Sill, a geological formation that offers a natural topographic defence against invaders or immigrants from the north. Β]

North Tyneside Council provided accommodation in the newly built Battle Hill Estate for the owners of all the houses demolished. The name Wallsend comes from Sedgedunum being at one end of the wall.

The Unique History of Segedunum Roman Fort

Although Segedunum is the most fully excavated of the Hadrian’s Wall forts, don’t expect to see much of the remains. The outline of the fort and its buildings is visible, but only at ground level, and many of the artefacts uncovered have been taken off to Newcastle’s Great North Museum. But the important thing about this site is the way it presents information and brings history to life.

Getting into the mood – dual language signs at Wallsend Metro station

We started by taking the lift to the 35m high viewing tower, which gives the best view of the layout of the excavated fort. Here you can watch a video charting the history of the site, from early times to the present day. Every Roman fort along the Wall was built to the same design. Yet they were all unique in their own way, with differing landscapes and with their own history once the Romans had departed. Segedunum (whose name means “strong fort”) differed from the other Wall forts in that – along with the stronghold of Arbeia in what is now South Shields – it was responsible for defending the river as well as the Wall. Like all of Hadrian’s Wall it later fell into disuse and its stone was taken elsewhere for building material. But, situated in what became an industrial conurbation, its subsequent fate was different. Over the centuries the land was used for ship building and coal mining, activities that led to much of the site being lost forever.

You can see the layout of the fort from the viewing tower

Inscribed Barrel stave small.jpg

Further to the East at Arbeia Roman Fort in South Shields, volunteers from community archaeology projects unearthed a beautifully crafted miniature bronze figure of the Roman goddess, Ceres. The figure is thought to be a mount from a larger piece of furniture and is the second goddess found by volunteers at Arbeia in the last two years. As the goddess of agriculture, grain and fertility, Ceres is highly appropriate for Arbeia which was originally a supply base where thousands of tons of grain were stored in granaries to feed the army stationed along Hadrian’s Wall. The figure is now on display to the general public at Arbeia Roman Fort.

Many recent finds feature in the Hadrian’s Wall on Tyneside exhibition at Segedunum Roman Fort in Wallsend, Newcastle upon Tyne, which runs until Sunday 30 October and showcases the latest evidence of the Roman frontier in urban Tyneside. The new exhibition, which is the culmination of Tyne and Wear Archives and Museum’s three-year WallQuest community archaeology project, features the recently discovered Roman bath house at Segedunum and a further 50m of Hadrian’s Wall.

The discovery of the bathhouse prompted the first sizable excavation of a building of this kind on Hadrian’s Wall since the 19 th century. It’s the first time the remains have been seen in more than 200 years, it was hidden under the foundation of a pub, which was recently demolished.

Sometime round about 400AD the fort was abandoned. For centuries the area remained as open farmland, but in the 18th century, collieries were sunk near the fort and the area gradually became a populous pit village. Eventually, in 1884, the whole fort disappeared under terraced housing. [2]

In 1929 some excavations were carried out which recorded the outline of the fort. The local authority marked out this outline in white paving stones. In the 1970s the terraced houses covering the site were demolished. [2]

A section of Hadrian's Wall was excavated and a reconstruction built in the early 1990s. The Segedunum project began in January 1997 with a series of excavations in and around the Fort, as well as the construction of the bath house and the conversion of former Swan Hunter shipyard buildings to house the new museum. Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths & Museum opened to the public in June 2000. [3]

Segedunum Roman Fort

Segedunum Roman Fort 1. Describe the layout of Segedunum Roman Fort. The Segedunum Roman Fort is shaped like a playing card it has rounded corners so the soldiers could easily look to see if an attack was heading their way. Inside of the fort there were buildings such as, the Hospital (Valetudinarium) , Granaries (Horrea), Head Quarters (Principia) , C.O's House (Praetorium) , Work Houses, Infantry Barracks, Cavalry Barracks, Fore Hall and Water Tank. Located in the middle of the fort was the headquarters building with the commanding officers house next to it. The fore hall was right next Headquarters this was for easy access in case of an emergency or announcement/meeting. The infantry and cavalry barracks were at opposite sides of each other inside the fort, the hospital was situated away from both of the barracks. Next to the hospital was the water tank this was situated here so that the hospital had easy access to the water for patients to drink and wash with. The granaries were situated next to the headquarters and the fore hall. . read more.

The wall was next to a river for trade purposes and also for a defence mechanism. In the centre of the fort was the HQ building, this was located here because it was the administration therefore it was most important as everything needed to run smoothly, next to the HQ building was the Commanding Officers house, this building was located here because the Commanding Officer need to be in the middle of the fort for protection as he was the most important person in the frontier. The fore hall was a place where all announcements and important notices where read, they would also hold emergency meetings and read daily announcements to the soldiers of the fort. Just outside of the fort was another walk away from the hospital where people would go to get treated for illness, or if they were injured. The hospital was located away from both the cavalry barracks and the infantry barracks so that disease did not spread, if disease was to spread it would alter the number of soldiers if some died which meant that they would have fewer soldiers if they were attacked. . read more.

The Roman Empire covered a distance of 2500 miles. It's shear size meant that there would be very long frontiers to defend. Defending these frontiers was not easy, and where possible the Romans relied on natural boundaries like rivers, for example. Where these natural boundaries where not possible defence systems had to be organised. People outside of the Roman Empire where called "barbarians." These barbarians included German tribes who could be difficult to handle. To deal with these tribes Rome used auxiliaries from other parts of the Roman Empire. Auxiliaries were non-Roman citizens. They were recruited from tribes that had been conquered by Rome or were allied to Rome. They also served for 25 years. At the end of their service they gained Roman citizenship as a reward. In Britannia the Roman legions had kept control in most areas. However, certain tribes like the . often gave cause for concern. In 122 AD Hadrian set about building the wall across the north of the country. The aim of this was to separate the Barbarians from the Romans. In conclusion Hadrian's Wall was a good thing as it stopped many invasions and separated the barbarians form the Romans. Rhys Laidler . read more.

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE History Projects section.

Segedunum Roman Fort - History

Garrisoned by a 600-strong combined infantry/cavalry regiment, Segedunum Roman Fort marked the eastern terminus of Hadrian's Wall. It was occupied until Roman military forces withdrew from Britain in the early fifth century AD. The site is now a major museum and includes a viewing tower, a superb museum and a reconstructed Roman Bath House.

When Publius Aelius Hadrianus (Hadrian) became Roman Emperor in AD 117 he ended centuries of expansionism and initiated a policy of entrenchment. In Britain, which he visited in AD 122, he ordered construction of a permanent frontier along the Tyne/Solway isthmus. Now known as Hadrian's Wall, this frontier was originally intended to stretch from the west coast to the eastern most fording point over the River Tyne at Newcastle ( Pons Aelius ). However, around AD 124 the frontier was extended a further three miles east to provide additional security. Wallsend Roman Fort, which was known as Segedunum, was built at the eastern extremity of this extension.

Segedunum Roman Fort was designed to garrison a cohors equitata , a mixed regiment of 480 infantry soldiers and 120 cavalry troopers. It was configured in a traditional 'playing card' layout enclosing an area of around four acres. Like all the forts on the Wall east of the River Irthing, but unlike most Roman outposts elsewhere, the defences were built in stone from the start. Five gateways provided access and egress with three of them leading out to the north of the frontier enabling the garrison to rapidly deploy if required. Internally the fort conformed to the standard Roman layout. At the centre was the Headquarters ( Principia ) with the Commanding Officer's house ( Praetorium ) directly adjacent. A double granary ( Horraea) was also centrally located and had space to store sufficient food to sustain the garrison for a year. Barracks were located to the north and south. A civilian settlement grew up sandwiched between Hadrian's Wall and the River Tyne. The first garrison of the fort is not known.

Hadrian's Wall was abandoned circa-AD 138 when the Romans moved back into Scotland and re-established a new frontier along the Antonine Wall. It is uncertain if Segedunum remained occupied during this period but, if not, it was re-activated when the Romans returned to Hadrian's Wall around AD 160. Later in that century the internal buildings of the fort were upgraded and a hospital, perhaps replacing an earlier facility, was constructed within the fort. The garrison at this time was the Second Cohort of Nervii ( Cohors II Nerviorum Civium Romanorum ), a unit recruited from the area that is now Belgium. By the late fourth/early fifth century this unit had been replaced with the Fourth Cohort of Lingones ( Cohors IV Lingonum Equitata ), another unit from Belgium.

Little is known as to Segedunum’s fate immediately after the Roman forces withdrew in the fifth century AD. It is possible that the site continued in use, perhaps by a local war band like at Birdoswald, but it is more likely it was abandoned fairly quickly once the Roman supply chain broke down. Certainly the fort had been abandoned by the time of the Norman Conquest and the settlement of Wallsend had moved further inland probably to reduce the risk from raiders coming along the Tyne. The site remained undeveloped until the eighteenth century when a colliery was established in the vicinity. This remained in operation for around 100 years and its final closure didn't occur until 1969. As coal mining declined, shipbuilding came to the Tyne and the company that would later become Swan and Hunter established itself directly to the south of Segedunum. In the early twentieth century the site was buried under a housing estate and remained hidden until the 1970s when the (by now rundown terraced houses) were demolished and the fort unearthed.

Berggren, A. J (2000). Ptolemy's Geography . Princeton University Press.

Breeze, D.J (2002). Roman Forts in Britain . Shire Archaeology, Oxford.

Breeze, D.J (2011). The Frontiers of Imperial Rome . Pen and Sword Books Ltd, Barnsley.

Campbell, D.B (2009). Roman Auxiliary Forts 27BC-AD378 . Osprey, Oxford.

Collingwood, R.G and Wright, R.P (1965). The Roman Inscriptions of Britain . Oxford.

Davies, H (2008). Roman Roads in Britain . Shire Archaeology, Oxford.

Fields, N (2005). Rome’s Northern Frontier AD 70-235 . Osprey, Oxford.

Hobbs, R and Jackson, R (2010). Roman Britain . British Museum Company Ltd, London.

Ordnance Survey, Historic England and RCAHMW (2016). Roman Britain. 1:625,000 Scale . Ordnance Survey, Southampton.

Watch the video: Hadrians Wall - Vindolanda Walkthrough - using Medieval Engineers software (December 2021).