Meeting friends for coffee in South Shields, nothing was further from my mind than a Roman Fort. Remember Crossing the Tyne when I took you inside the National Centre for the Written Word? It has a nice little cafe with a view (and strawberry and rhubarb cheesecake), and this particular day there were Monsters in the exhibition space.
It’s a good starting point for an amble south of the river and, once outside, my eyes lit up when I read on a signpost ‘Arbeia Roman Fort – 1 mile’. Now that’s a destination you won’t find every day! Farewells were bid. I was on a mission.
The area was once a hive of industry, rich in pubs for slaking a good thirst. A well placed mural brings it all back to life.
The Metro now runs across the High Street, a straggle of shops, pubs and restaurants with a few allusions to the past.
I almost missed the clue, but a left turn took me in the direction of the river, and a few minutes later I was staring at the reconstruction of the West Gate of a Roman fort. Slightly incongruous, but impressive, in the midst of a South Shields housing estate.
Arbeia Roman Fort, standing above the entrance to the River Tyne, guarded the main route by sea to Hadrian’s Wall and was thus of great strategic importance to the Romans. It was a key garrison and military supply base to other forts along the Wall. It surprised me to find that this reconstruction, on the exact site of the original fort of AD160, was recreated 30 years ago.
There are numerous information boards around the site and, within the West Gate, models of how the fort once looked and an Armoury. You can climb to the turrets of the gate to look down upon the ruins, and north to the Tyne and Wallsend. (Segedunum in Roman times)
In addition to the West Gate there is a Commanding Officer’s house, partially rebuilt using some of the original floor and foundations. It includes a palisade and summer dining room, with lovely frescoes on the walls. The Barrack Block was built using traditional Roman techniques from the 3rd century. Soldiers usually lived here, 8 to an apartment.
I was very lucky to get inside. It was still pre-season, but a school party were paying a visit. Excavations have been ongoing at the fort since the 1870s, with significant finds enabling us to piece together the life of a Roman soldier. The website gives details of opening hours and how to get there. It was a lovely afternoon as I headed down through the park to the mouth of the Tyne. On the far shore, Tynemouth Priory and, looking south, far along the coast, distant Souter Lighthouse. The day had not turned out at all as I expected. Extraordinary, in fact.
I hope you enjoyed accompanying me along the Tyne. Our heritage is fascinating, isn’t it?
Lots more walks to share this week, so pop the kettle on and have a good read. Many thanks to all of you for keeping this going. Join me any time. Details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.
How’s morning where you are? Come and sit harbourside with me and Drake!
You really wouldn’t want to hurry if you could spend time in Bhutan, like Ann Christine :
My mother always loved lupins and Lisa’s are in a lovely location :
Marsha takes some rather odd walks, don’t you think?
Kathrin’s post epitomises sunny California. Spot the ‘hidden’ beach!
Let Dippy-Dotty Girl brighten your day. I can promise you a smile :
Never a dull moment with Jesh, either. Anyone identify the flowers?
I may be giving away secrets, but I hope Emma won’t mind :
You’ll be ready for food after all that walking. Where else but Jackie’s place?
Save some for the ducks and swans, with Lady Lee :
Time spent with Pauline and Jack is always interesting. Check out their sketches :
And day 4 takes us adventuring with boulders :
When a photographer finds me, I have to reciprocate. Meet Avirup at Walk of Life :
A sad little place? Take a stroll with Irene :
Now, for something completely different, a walk with my favourite beaver. And Carol, of course!
And here’s Carol, all alone (well, not really because Glen will be about too) :
Still on the beautiful Australian coast, a walk with Karen rounds us off :
No complaints this week. The amelanchier is blooming beautifully in our garden, and any chance I get, I’m out there. Wishing you a week full of sunshine and blossom.