Corbridge Roman Fort

Posted on: November 7th, 2019

I recently visited Corbridge Roman Fort. Not physically far away at all, but a step back to 2000 years ago when the North East of England was very different.

On arriving at the fort you enter the visitor centre. It has been recently refurbished and the new displays are light and engaging. There are many artifacts which are clearly lit and labelled. I particularly enjoyed the Corbridge Hoard. In 1964 archaeologists found a part alder wood chest, bound with iron and covered in leather waterproofing. It contained military equipment, tools and other items. Part of the armadillo like segmented plate armour was included as worn by the legionary soldiers. English Heritage have created an interactive display adjoining this with 3d printed elements of the hoard. It was amazing to touch and feel these replica objects. The Corbridge Lion too was very interesting a beautiful carved sandstone lion which had a hole in its mouth through which a water fountain had cascaded.

As you walk through the museum you gain tantalising glimpses of the actual fort site and the countryside beyond, through the large glazed windows. The swifts, which were nesting in the eaves, swoop in and out and create more interests.

On leaving the museum you appreciate the fort itself, well actually, only part of it, as only part has been uncovered. The stones are enormous. It is hard to imagine how they were moved into position so long ago, without the plant moving equipment we have nowadays.

All of the fort has grass between the stones giving a natural carpet in each of the defined spaces. There are plants growing on stones, different types of ferns have naturalised in the nooks and crannies and soften the look of the harsh outlines. They seem to domesticate the harsh stones.

The Principia and Strong room are particularly interesting. You can clearly see the flight of steps which lead down from the shrine to the strong room where the unit funds were kept. The steps are steep and well worn. They were obviously often used by the soldiers who worked there, walking down into the most secure room in the fort to obtain the soldiers pay.

On working your way around the site following the audio trail, you finish with views of the beautiful Northumberland countryside. It was a good visit. I enjoyed it enormously. It is good to see our local past and good to reflect. We should be proud of our local heritage and the part the region has played in national history.