Keys to the Past

Roman Sites in County Durham and Northumberland

There are many sites of Roman date to visit Durham and Northumberland, as well as nearby in Tyne and Wear. Not surprisingly, considering the importance of Hadrian's Wall and the Roman army in the north-east, all these sites military remains. Some of these sites have survived as ruins, particularly those in the central section of the wall. Others have only been uncovered in the last hundred years through the careful work of archaeologists. However, all give a fascinating insight into life on the most northern military frontier of the Roman Empire.

County Durham

Binchester Roman Fort

Binchester Roman Fort was the largest Roman fort in County Durham. A small part has been excavated and is open to view. Most of the fort and the remains of the nearby civilian settlement still lie buried in the surrounding fields.

Roman Fort and Bridge

Piercebridge Roman Fort is the site of a small Roman fort close to the banks of the River Tees. Visable Roman remains include the East Gate and Defences, courtyard building and part of an internal road. There are also remains of a bridge which carried Dere Street over the River Tees.

Tour of Roman Dere Street

Visit the Dere Street Trail and discover "archaeology without digging", "pits which contained sharpened wooden stakes", 28-seater toilets and the remains of Dere Street itself.

Bowes Museum

At the Bowes Museum you can see objects up to 6,000 years old which have been found in digs in County Durham - cup and ring marked stones, a Bronze Age hoard and graffiti from Binchester Roman fort.

Northumberland

Vindolanda

Vindolanda and the Roman Army Museum bring history alive. Vindolanda is a fascinating Roman fort and civilian settlement lying just to the south of Hadrian's Wall. The Roman Army Museum, situated beside one of the best preserved sections of the Wall, offers a captivating insight into the garrisons of Hadrian's Wall.

Housesteads

Visit the best-preserved Roman fort in Britain. Housesteads is the most famous fort on Hadrian's Wall and lies on the great volcanic escarpment of Whin Sill. One of the 12 forts added to the Wall in about AD 124, it was designed to hold a garrison of 800 soldiers.

More information about visiting Housesteads can be found at the English Heritage website.

Chesters

Sophisticated water systems and Edwardian museum. Chesters was one of the series of troop bases added to Hadrian's Wall soon after it was built in ad122-23. It is the best preserved example of a Roman cavalry fort in Britain. It seems to have been occupied for nearly three centuries, with several changes of garrison during that time.

More information about visiting Housesteads can be found at the English Heritage website.

Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian's Wall is the most important monument built by the Romans in Britain. It is the best known frontier in the entire Roman Empire and stands as a reminder of past glories of one of the world's greatest civilisations. Designated a World Heritage Site in 1987, Hadrian's Wall ranks alongside the Taj Mahal and other treasures of the great wonders of the world.

For further information about visiting all the sites on Hadrian's Wall visit the Hadrian's Wall World Heritage Site website.

Epiacum (Whitley Castle)

This impressive Roman Fort is the only known fort on the Maiden Way Roman road. It acted not only as a secure base for troop movements but may also have controlled lead production in the area. The defences are more elaborate than any other fort in Roman Britain and comprise four massive circuits of ramparts around the three outward faces of a spur of land, increasing to seven on the remaining uphill side.

More information about visiting Epiacum can be found at http://epiacumheritage.org

Tyne and Wear

Arbeia (South Shields) Roman Fort

Four miles east of the end of Hadrian's Wall at South Shields, Arbeia - Roman Fort and Museum guarded the entrance to the River Tyne. Built around AD160 the stone fort played an essential role in the mighty frontier system. Originally built to house a garrison, Arbeia soon became the military supply base for the 17 forts along the Wall. Today, the excavated remains, stunning reconstructions of original buildings and finds discovered at the Fort combine to give a unique insight into life in Roman Britain.

Segedunum Roman Fort & Museum

In AD122 the Emperor Hadrian ordered a mighty frontier system to be built across Britain to defend the Roman Empire from the barbarians to the North. Segedunum Roman Fort stood on the banks of the River Tyne, the last outpost of Hadrian's Wall. For almost 300 years Segedunum, which means 'strong fort', was home to 600 Roman soldiers. Today, Segedunum is once again the gateway to this world famous World Heritage site.

Great North Museum, Newcastle

The Great North Museum is the joint museum of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne and the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. It is the principal museum of archaeology in north east England. Its visitors are those who wish to know more about the history of the region, especially Hadrian's Wall and the Roman frontier. It has a renowned collection of artefacts, models and archives relating to the Wall, and a full-scale reconstruction of the Temple to Mithras at Carrawburgh. Other displays illustrate the variety of life in the region from early prehistory to the 17th century.