The legacy left behind by the Romans in Britannia, their most troublesome colony, is what continues to fascinate communities up and down the UK. While some more well-known Roman sites may exist further afield in Chester or London, the Roman legacy in Newcastle is arguably one of the richest in the country, if not in the whole of Northern Europe.
Owing to the city’s position near the Scottish border, Newcastle was a hugely important military outpost and trading centre throughout the era of Roman rule. Remains of fortresses, villas, temples and marketplaces are scattered throughout the area, with one of the most famous Roman structures in history still standing today. If you wish to trace Newcastle’s bloody and complex Roman legacy, you can do it all in one day. Here’s how.
Perhaps the most enduring symbol of Roman rule, it’s the one that has inspired countless poems, paintings, books and films, as well as serving for the inspiration for the infamous wall in Game of Thrones, as explained here: http://history-behind-game-of-thrones.com/ancienthistory/the-wall. This wall was built at the command of Emperor Hadrian to keep out the troublesome Scots, particularly the Picts who would regularly conduct devastating raids into Roman territory. You can see it in all of its glory simply by hopping on the Metro to Wallsend, where you can take in the very end point of this British cultural icon.
Segedunum Roman Fort
Segedunum, also located in Wallsend, holds the title of being the single most heavily-excavated site in all of the UK. This sprawling settlement was operated as a Roman garrison for over 300 years and features a bathhouse, gladiator ring, ruined temple and more. The rare weaponry found here has better informed our understanding of the gladiators, in turn fuelling a renewed cultural interest, which has led to the creation of hit Hollywood films such as Russel Crowe’s Gladiator and popular online slot games such as Spartacus: Gladiator of Rome, available at https://games.paddypower.com, which allows to players to follow in the footsteps of the most famous gladiator in their quest for riches. Segedunum has it all.
Arbeia Roman Fort
For your final stop just hop on the metro from Segedunun to South Shields, where you experience a more relaxed form of Roman living at Arbeia. This 2000-year old site was also a military installation but differs from other sites in that it was used primarily to house high-ranking officers and their families. As such, the luxurious villa accommodations of the leading lights of the Imperial Army have been painstakingly recreated here, allowing visitors to experience how the other half lived in Roman Britain. Naval historians will also greatly enjoy this place, as this coastal fortification contains some of the most well-preserved pieces of Roman naval artefacts in the entire country.
As a bonus destination, you can always just head to the famous Newcastle Castle Keep, located in the heart of the city centre. While the actual castle is from the Norman period, it was built on top of existing Roman fortifications, thought to be some of the earliest built in Britain. Learn about it before you visit at http://www.newcastlecastle.co.uk/roman-and-anglo-saxon and then go there to feel millennia of history in the stones beneath your feet.