Wallsend’s Wonky Wall

In between posting comments on our Hadrian’s Wall course,  Dr Rob Collins has been out and about on the Wall itself.


“Yesterday I had the privilege to visit and examine recent excavations outside of the Roman fort at Wallsend, Segedunum. A recent grant has allowed Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM) and the WallQuest project to explore a stretch of the Wall curtain just northwest of the fort and the bathhouse to the southwest of the fort.

The stretch of Wall curtain is extremely interesting. As you can see from the photo, this stretch of the curtain is best described as wonky!   But this wonkiness, and detailed examination of the stonework reveals vital information. For one thing, there was a stream that the curtain crossed (which thanks to recent rainfall is very visible in the photo) and which ran behind the Wall. This stream seems to have destabilised the land on the eastern side of the stream, and made the Wall lean and probably collapse. You can see this from the very sharp angle of the lowest building courses in the picture. Subsequently, there were a number of rebuilds of the Wall curtain in this area, which canbe broadly dated with pottery. This seems to show that the curtain of the Wall was repaired and refurbished until at least the later 3rd century.

Wall excavations

The bathhouse has been excavated over recent weeks, and this is the first bathhouse along Hadrian’s Wall to have been excavated under modern standards. Only the lowest courses of the building remain, as the bathhouse seems to have been dismantled or demolished around 1814 when it was encountered by builders. The remains of the walls of the structure reveal a number of phases of activity,  proving that the Hadrianic bathhouse – that is the original bathhouse – was in use and adapted over at least a century, possibly more.

Results will be published in due course (though this can often take many years from completion of fieldwork), but for those that live locally, there is a conference in South Shields on Sat 14 November, where Dr Nick Hodgson will present the results of the excavation to date.”

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