One thing I love about living in Newcastle is that it is easy to leave…
Segedunum Roman Fort stands at the easternmost point of Hadrian’s wall overlooking the Tyne. The interactive museum and Roman ruins are well worth a visit.
- Stepping Through Time at Segedunum: Where Hadrian's Wall Meets the River Tyne
- Outside Segedunum Roman Fort
- Inside Segedunum Roman Fort
- Planning Your Segedunum Adventure: Essential Information
Wallsend, in North Tyneside, marks the end of Hadrian’s wall and one of the most northerly spots in the Roman empire. It is a small town which is also known for shipbuilding and coal mining.
You will find Segedunum Roman Fort next to the Swan Hunter shipyards overlooking the river Tyne. It is the most excavated Roman fort along Hadrian’s Wall. When my son was little we would go to Segedunum all the time. The exhibitions change regularly and they often have events. We went to the Roman market a few years ago which was like stepping back in time.
Stepping Through Time at Segedunum: Where Hadrian’s Wall Meets the River Tyne
Imagine standing guard on the edge of the Roman Empire, the vast North Sea lapping at your back and the mighty wall stretching out before you. This was the reality for soldiers stationed at Segedunum, a Roman fort nestled beside the River Tyne in Wallsend, England. Boasting the title of “strong fort” (its Latin name), Segedunum wasn’t just a defensive outpost; it was a bustling hub of military life, trade, and cultural exchange for nearly 300 years.
Today, Segedunum stands as a testament to this rich history, offering visitors a unique chance to step back in time and explore the fascinating world of Roman Britain. Unlike other forts along Hadrian’s Wall, Segedunum has undergone extensive excavations, revealing the foundations of buildings, remnants of daily life, and even a glimpse into the minds of its inhabitants through unearthed inscriptions. So, are you ready to trade your modern attire for a toga and delve into the captivating story of Segedunum? Let’s begin our journey…
Outside Segedunum Roman Fort
Outside Segdenum Roman Fort stands a statue of a Roman centurion. The statue marks the end of Hadrian’s Wall which ran for 80 Roman miles or 73 modern miles from Wallsend to Cumbria.
It is also the start of Hadrian’s Wall Path, a national walking trail which follows the path of the wall. You can get your Hadrian’s Wall walking passport inside Segedunum and collect one of seven stamps along the trail.
The centurion, known as Sentius Tectonicus is 8ft 8 inches tall and is made from the same steel as the Angel of the North. His name comes from an inscription found close by that shows a centurion named Sentius supervising building a section of the wall.
From the outside, you get a good view of the viewing tower that overlooks the Roman ruins. You can also see the shipyards beside the river.
Inside Segedunum Roman Fort
Entering Segedunum takes you into the gift shop where the admissions desk is. When you pay you are given a map with more information about the fort. The gift shop has lots of interesting books about the local area and Roman Britain as well as souvenirs of Segedunum.
The entrance to the museum and viewing gallery leads off from the gift shop. We opted to start at the top and took the lift up to the viewing gallery. I recommend getting the lift up and walking down unless you want to walk up ten flights of stairs.
The Viewing Gallery
Ascend the 35-meter viewing tower, and the fort unfolds before you in all its glory.
From the top, you get amazing panoramic views across the remains of the fort, the River Tyne and the bustling modern town of Wallsend. In front of the windows, a video plays showing the changes in the fort over the years. You can easily stand looking at the view for ages.
The other side of the tower gives a good view of Swan Hunter shipyards and the walls tell the history of the ships that were made on the Tyne. It is a fascinating mix of the Roman and industrial heritage in the area.
Wallsend has a history of shipbuilding and is best known for building RMS Mauretania. This ship held the Blue Riband for the fastest Atlantic crossing for 22 years. Other famous ships built here are the RMS Carpathia which helped rescue survivors from the Titanic and the Turbinia, the first ship powered by steam turbine.
Exhibitions at Segedunum
Segedunum is a museum with several different galleries and the exhibitions are constantly changing and always fascinating. They vary from the history of Segedumun, the history of Wallsend and the surrounding area and other interesting exhibits. Check the website to find out what is on.
The ground floor is home to the Roman Gallery which brings the fort to life. It focuses on Segedunum’s place in the Roman empire and Hadrian’s wall frontier. It gives an insight into Roman life with recreations of the Headquarters building, the commanding officers’ house and the calvary barracks. This is a permanent exhibition.
The museum, housed within the fort’s walls, serves as a treasure trove of Roman artefacts. Marvel at intricate military equipment, pottery adorned with everyday scenes, and coins that jingled in soldiers’ pockets centuries ago. Touch the smooth surface of a tombstone, pondering the life and service of the soldier it commemorates.
Interactive displays bring the fort to life, allowing you to dress in Roman attire, practice writing with a stylus on a wax tablet, and even test your skills in a virtual chariot race. There is plenty to interest the kids and it is a fascinating glimpse into Roman life for both young and old.
The Excavated Fort History
Outside you can wander around the excavated fort. While time has taken its toll, the carefully preserved foundations and reconstructed areas paint a vivid picture of the fort’s former glory. You can see the outlines of the walls of all the buildings. Most Roman forts are similar to this but Segedunum is the only place in the Western Roman Empire where you can see the whole fort laid out.
Built around 124 AD as part of an extension to Hadrian’s Wall, Segedunum held a strategic position guarding the eastern end of the Roman frontier. Its garrison, typically around 600 strong, hailed from diverse corners of the empire – from Belgium in the 2nd century to the Alsace region of France in the 3rd and 4th centuries. These soldiers weren’t just muscle; they were skilled builders, engineers, and traders, contributing to the vibrant life within the fort walls.
Imagine the daily bustle: clanging hammers at the forge, merchants bartering exotic goods, soldiers honing their swordsmanship in the practice yard, and the rhythmic chants echoing from the bathhouse. Life at Segedunum was far from easy – the ever-present threat of barbarian raids demanded constant vigilance. Yet, amidst the duties and dangers, moments of camaraderie and leisure existed. Soldiers gambled with bone dice, wrote playful messages on pottery shards, and even enjoyed theatrical performances held within the fort itself.
Segedunum wasn’t just about the soldiers. It also served as a vital trading hub, with merchants bringing goods from across the empire. Pottery fragments from Gaul, glass beads from Egypt, and even exotic spices paint a picture of a cosmopolitan community connected to the wider Roman world. So, as you explore the fort today, imagine the bustling marketplace, the clinking of coins, and the diverse languages filling the air, transporting you back to a vibrant crossroads of the ancient world.
Walking Round the Fort
The ruins are laid out in front of you. Each building has a sign which gives more information about the building and its use. Explore the remains of the granaries, picturing the mountains of grain that sustained the garrison. See the barracks, the Calvary barracks and the commanding officers’ house.
There is also a reconstructed bath house on the site but sadly this is currently closed. It is well worth a visit but it may be a while until it reopens as it needs repairs and the funding is not currently available. If you walk out of the fort and follow the path which is the start of Hadrian’s Wall Trail you will find the excavation of the Roman baths discovered on the site.
If you have kids there is also a playground and herb garden on the site which is a lovely place to sit in sunny weather. On a cooler day, it is a good idea to wrap up warmly. I wore my new waterproof coat and top from Lighthouse Clothing. The Kendal raincoat is fully waterproof and windproof as well as looking stylish, ideal for a February day. Don’t forget to get your picture taken by the “I walked Hadrian’s Wall” celebrating 20 years of Hadrian’s Wall Trail.
Read more: Housesteads Roman Fort
Wallsend ‘B’ Pit from Wallsend Colliery
I have been to Segedunum many times without realising part of the museum extends to the other side of the road. If you go out the gate at the end of the fort and cross the road you will find the remains of Wallsend B Pit from Wallsend Colliery and also a reconstructed section of Hadrian’s Wall.
During the late 18th Century Wallsend was a coal mining centre with seven pits in operation. Wallsend B Pit is one of several shafts going into the colliery. Inside the walls, there would have been haystack boilers that produced the steam to power the engines. The pit closed in 1847 and a concrete cap seals the shaft.
Read more: The Mining Institute, Newcastle
Hadrian’s Wall Reconstruction
Just beyond the Wallsend B pit, you can find the reconstruction of Hadrian’s wall. This overlooks an 80m stretch of the remains of the wall. It is interesting to see and gives you a feel for how impressive the wall must have been.
Planning Your Segedunum Adventure: Essential Information
This post is based on a visit in February 2024. Exhibitions do change over time and information can change too. You must check details with the venue directly before visiting for the most up-to-date information.
Ready to embark on your Roman adventure at Segedunum? Here’s some essential information to help you plan your visit:
How do I get to Segedunum Roman Fort?
It is really easy to get to Segedunum via public transport. Wallsend metro station and Wallsend bus station are both within walking distance.
Free parking is available outside the museum with four accessible spaces near the entrance.
Segedunum Roman Fort
Opening Hours and Ticket Information
Opening Hours: Segedunum is currently open Monday to Saturday, 10am to 3pm, from January 8th to March 23rd, 2024. From March 25th to September 22nd, the fort extends its hours to 10am to 5pm daily. Keep in mind the fort is closed on Sundays and during specific holidays, so double-check before you head out.
Ticket Information: Adults can purchase tickets for £6.95, while concessions (including disabled visitors over 16) pay £4.95. Young people under 21 and NE28 residents enjoy free entry. Season tickets and family discounts are also available, making it an affordable day out for the whole family.
Segedunum strives to be accessible to all visitors. The main museum and shop are fully accessible, and there are designated disabled parking spaces close to the entrance. While uneven terrain and steps exist within the fort grounds, some areas are accessible via alternative routes. Contact the fort beforehand for specific accessibility inquiries.
More information: https://segedunumromanfort.org.uk/
Combining Your Visit
Make the most of your visit by exploring nearby attractions. Get on your bike and discover the Museum 2 Museum cycle routes. Cycle to either the Great North Museum: Hancock or Arbeia Roman Fort in South Shields. Visit the Stephenson Railway Museum to learn about the region’s rich industrial heritage. For the more adventurous, walk coast to coast along Hadrian’s Wall Path across the rugged border landscapes of Cumbria and Northumberland.
Keep an eye out for special events and activities throughout the year, like family-friendly Roman weekends, guided tours with reenactors, or themed workshops. Check the Segedunum website or social media pages for upcoming events.
Check the website to see what exhibitions or special events are on. Wear comfortable shoes suitable for uneven terrain. Pack a picnic lunch or enjoy refreshments at a nearby cafe. Most importantly, bring your curiosity and imagination – Segedunum promises a journey through time you won’t forget!
So, lace up your walking shoes, dust off your toga (optional!), and prepare to be transported back to the days of Roman soldiers, bustling markets, and life on the edge of an empire. Your Segedunum adventure awaits!
Have you been to Segedunum? Let me know what you think below.
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