Segedunum

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Porolissum-porta-praetoria-icon.png Segedunum
Segedunum Roman Fort and Baths - geograph.org.uk - 37360.jpg
Segedunum Roman Fort
Segedunum is located in Tyne and Wear
Segedunum
Red pog.svg Segedunum shown within Tyne and Wear
Founded c. 122 AD
Abandoned c. 400 AD
Attested by Notitia Dignitatum
Place in the Roman world
Province Britannia
Structure
— Stone structure —
Size and area 138 m x 120 m (1.65 ha)
Stationed military units
Cohorts
Location
Coordinates 54°59′16″N 1°31′56″W / 54.98791°N 1.53231°W / 54.98791; -1.53231
Town Wallsend
County Tyne and Wear
Country England
Reference
UK-OSNG reference NZ301660
Media related to Segedunum at Wikimedia Commons

Segedunum was a Roman fort at modern-day Wallsend, Tyne and Wear, England, UK. The fort lay at the eastern end of Hadrian's Wall (in Wallsend) near the banks of the River Tyne, forming the easternmost portion of the wall. It was in use as a garrison for approximately 300 years, almost up to 400AD.

Today, Segedunum is the most thoroughly excavated fort along Hadrian's Wall, and is operated as Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths and Museum.

History[edit]

The Roman wall originally terminated at Pons Aelius (Newcastle upon Tyne). Work began at Pons Aelius in 122AD and proceeded towards the west. Subsequently, in about 127AD, the wall was extended further east, possibly to protect the river crossing at Pons Aelius. A four-mile section of the wall east from the fort of Pons Aelius, passing through present-day Byker and ending at the new fort of Segedunum was built. The new section of wall was narrower than the sections previously built, being 7 feet 6 inches (2.29 m) on a foundation of 8 feet (2.4 m). Unlike the rest of the wall, the extension had no vallum.[1]

The fort measured 453 feet (138 m) from north to south and 393 feet (120 m) from east to west, covering an area of 4.1 acres (17,000 m2). A wide ditch and an earth embankment surrounded the fort on all sides. It had four double gates with the east, west and north gates opening outside the wall and only the south gate opening within the wall. The wall joined to the west wall of the fort just south of the west gate. From the southeast angle of the fort, a 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m) wide wall ran down to the riverbank and extended at least as far as the low water level.[1]

There is evidence that there was an extensive vicus, or village surrounding the fort, including the area to the north of the wall.[1]

Garrison[edit]

Fragments of armour found at Segedunum

The original garrison of Segedunum is unknown, but in the 2nd century the Second Cohort of Nervians was stationed there. In the 3rd and 4th centuries the part-mounted Fourth Cohort of the Lingones occupied the fort, as recorded in the Notitia Dignitatum. Both units were 600 strong. 120 cavalry and 480 infantry [2]

Subsequent history[edit]

Sometime round about 400AD the fort was abandoned. For centuries the area remained as open farmland, but in the 18th century, collieries were sunk near the fort and the area gradually became a populous pit village. Eventually, in 1884, the whole fort disappeared under terraced housing.[2]

In 1929 some excavations were carried out which recorded the outline of the fort. The local authority marked out this outline in white paving stones. In the 1970s the terraced houses covering the site were demolished.[2]

A section of Hadrian's Wall was excavated and a reconstruction built in the early 1990s. The Segedunum project began in January 1997 with a series of excavations in and around the Fort, as well as the construction of the bath house and the conversion of former Swan Hunter shipyard buildings to house the new museum. Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths & Museum opened to the public in June 2000.[3]

Today[edit]

The viewing platform at the Segedunum Visitor Centre

The site of the fort now contains the excavated remains of the buildings' foundation of the original fort, as well as a reconstructed Roman military bathhouse based on excavated examples at Vindolanda and Chesters forts. A museum contains items of interest that were found when the site was excavated and a large observation tower overlooks the site. A portion of the original wall is visible across the street from the museum, and a reconstruction of what the whole wall might have looked like. This eastern portion of Hadrian's Wall was erected atop the Whin Sill, a geological formation that offers a natural topographic defence against invaders or immigrants from the north.[4]

North Tyneside Council provided accommodation in the newly built Battle Hill Estate for the owners of all the houses demolished. The name Wallsend comes from Sedgedunum being at one end of the wall.

Etymology[edit]

The name Segedunum is known from the Notitia Dignitatum of the 4th century,[5] but there is no consensus on its meaning. The various conjectures include "derived from the Celtic for 'powerful' or 'victorious'",[6] "derived from the [Celtic] words sego ('strength') and dunum ('fortified place')",[7] "Romano-British Segedunum 'Strong-fort'",[8] and "Celtic sechdun or 'dry hill'".[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Frank Graham, Roman Wall, Comprehensive History and Guide (1979), Frank Graham, ISBN 0-85983-177-9
  2. ^ a b * J. Collingwood Bruce, Handbook to the Roman Wall (1863), Harold Hill & Son, ISBN 0-85983-140-X
  3. ^ Segedunum official site (2007)
  4. ^ C.Michael Hogan (2007) "Hadrian's Wall", ed. A. Burnham, The Megalithic Portal
  5. ^ "Segedunum: History", Hadrian's Wall website
  6. ^ Chamberlin, R., "Hadrian’s Wallsend", History Today, Volume: 50 Issue: 8, August 2000
  7. ^ "Segedunum", roman-britain.org
  8. ^ Koch, J.T., Celtic Culture, 2006, ISBN 1-85109-440-7
  9. ^ Wainwright M., "Togas and hot tubs on the Roman way", The Guardian, 13 June 2000

External links[edit]