Roman bath house and Hadrian's Wall excavations open
03 November 2015
(L-R) Councillor Eddie Darke, archaeologist Nick Hodgson, museum manager Geoff Woodward and Mayor of North Tyneside Norma Redfearn.
The first phase of new developments at Segedunum Roman Fort in North Tyneside – including the preservation and interpretation of the rediscovered Roman bath house foundations, the conservation and display of a further 50m of Hadrian’s Wall are now open to visitors.
Other improvements include direct access to the Hadrian’s Wall National Trail from the museum, a viewing platform for the bath house foundations (which are several feet deep), a picnic area and landscaping to the site.
The work has been funded by a £500,000 grant from government as part of a ‘six point long term economic plan’ for the North East, part of the Northern Powerhouse initiative.
Iain Watson, Director of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums said:
“This is fantastic news not just for our visitors, but the region and the overall understanding of Hadrian’s Wall. To be able to incorporate the original bath house into the museum site, and preserve even more of the Wall itself, is incredible."
The developments will significantly increase the visitor offer and the size of the historical site, 15 years after Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths & Museum opened in June 2000 and there is more to come with plans for a sculpture of a Roman soldier to mark the start / end of the Hadrian's Wall trail.
Elected Mayor of North Tyneside Norma Redfearn said:
“I am delighted to hear about the exciting developments at Segedunum Roman Fort. Not only is it great news for the museum and its visitors, but it’s also great news for the people of Wallsend. There is a lot of work underway, some of which is already complete, to regenerate and reinvigorate Wallsend, and I know this work to improve a local museum will also be very well-received.”
Councillor Eddie Darke, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture and Tourism at North Tyneside Council, said:
“Segedunum Roman Fort is a much-loved museum, which welcomes visitors from around the world, and this latest work is sure to attract more people to the site.
“The project to incorporate the bath house and even more Hadrian’s Wall is fantastic, and it will help visitors to have a better insight into the history of Roman life in the borough.”
The excavation of the original Segedunum bath house was undertaken by the WallQuest community archaeology project, and has been the first sizable excavation of a bath house on Hadrian’s Wall since the 19th century.
Nick Hodgson, WallQuest project leader and archaeologist at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums said:
“The excavation and research of the WallQuest project at Segedunum lends several additions to current knowledge of the Wall. Evidence of Roman maintenance and structural adaptations spanning 100 years proves the upkeep of the both the bath house and the Wall. We’ll be able to share this new information with visitors through the new interpretation as part of the new developments.”
On 23 April 2016 the Hadrian’s Wall on Tyneside exhibition opened at the museum examining the Segedunum section of Hadrian’s Wall and the wider story of the Wall in urban Tyneside, featuring the discoveries and archaeological finds of the WallQuest project.
Already the most excavated site on Hadrian’s Wall, Segedunum features a reconstruction of a Roman bath house, a recreated stretch of Hadrian’s Wall and features an iconic 35m viewing tower with spectacular views across the site, river and city.
The foundations of Segedunum and existing 20m of Hadrian’s Wall have already provided archaeologists with the most authentic evidence of the monument, with the new information adding to this body of knowledge.
Previous significant discoveries at Segedunum have included conclusive proof that Roman cavalry shared accommodation blocks with their horses, as this question had stumped archaeologists for more than 100 years.
Excavations at Segedunum provided increased knowledge of the Roman army providing a great leap forward in the current understanding of the internal layouts of auxiliary forts.