Segedunum Roman Fort, Wallsend, is the easternmost fort on Hadrian’s Wall and, to date, is the most excavated fort in the Roman Empire. The fort was only added to the great scheme of this huge engineering project some three years after the Wall itself was under its first throws of construction. Primarily it was built to afford a view of the eastern fort on the south of the River Tyne at Arbeia (South Shields) because the view from Pons Aelius (Newcastle upon Tyne) would have been very restricted because of the distances involved. Being built on the banks of the Tyne is quite unusual for the Romans because Rome preferred to use rivers as a natural barrier as opposed to going to the extent of building a fort unnecessarily.
There is plenty to see and do here with the fort itself almost fully on display except where a roadway (Buddle Street) runs through the northern section of it. However, on the south of this road the buildings are clearly marked out although a lot of the original stone foundations were destroyed by the Victorians when they built Simpsons Hotel on top of the fort. That does not detract from the experience of visiting this site in any way though. Uniquely a viewing tower that stands at 34 metres tall offers an excellent look at the site as whole and is well worth taking the opportunity to take some excellent photographs. The upper rear of the tower enables a view towards Arbeia although it is virtually invisible with other buildings in the way though it is easy to imagine what it may have looked like. There is a very fine museum and shop too with a cafe.
Also on site is a fully working, reconstructed, bath house based on that at Cilurnum (Chesters) and is laid out in mirrored fashion because of the space allowed to build it. It is painted inside with frescos based upon bath houses in Bath and Germany. Across Buddle Street there is a reconstruction of part of Hadrian’s Wall along with defensive posts around which sharp thorn bushes would be placed thus forming the Roman equivalent of our barbed wire, the cippi defences. On one facia of the wall you can see where experimental plastering and painting of the wall has been done to highlight the fact that Hadrian’s Wall was actually plastered and painted when built at least in parts. There is solid evidence for this. An original stretch of the Wall also exists alongside the reconstruction but is covered with plastic sheeting as funds ran out during its excavation.
reconstructed Bath House
The foundations that remain show the fort had several repairs and modifications through its history and this is easily spotted by the trained eye. The site was opened to the public on June 17th 2000 by the Mayor of North Tyneside and was paid a special visit on the day by the Ermine Street Guard and members of the Cohors Quinta Gallorum.
Garrisons known at SegedunumWallsend on StreetMap
|Hadrian||cohors quingenaria equitata ?|
|Marcus_Aurelius||cohors II Nerviorum civium Romanorum ?|
|3rd_Century||cohors IV Lingonum equitata|
|Notitia_Dignitatum||cohors IV Lingonum †|
|1st_Note||The cohors II Nerviorum could have been the Hadrianic garrison, although it was not equitata.|
|2nd_Note||The inscriptions of cohors IV Lingonum from the fort (RIB 1299 - 1301) are not dated, but are certainly late and are probably third century. The tile of ala I Hispanorum Asturum (Britannia 7 (1976) 388) is insufficient evidence for its having been stationed here.|