Less well-known Roman sites in Northumberland
Published: Wednesday 20th Apr 2016
Written by: The Grace Darling Holidays Team
Northumberland has its fair share of famous Roman sites, the most famous being Hadrian’s Wall, Vindolanda and Housesteads Fort. But there are others that many people do not yet know about. Here are 2 of these less common Roman sites awaiting your discovery.
Roman Bridge, Corbridge
The remains of a bridge that was built to cross the Tyne at Corbridge can be seen approximately 400m upstream along the riverside path from the car park at the modern bridge. To avoid the risk of damage in the event of a flood, the bridge abutment has recently been relocated.
Swine Hill Camp, Ridsdale
The Roman road from York to Scotland, which is followed today by the A68, is littered with the remains of temporary camps. Swine Hill Camp is particularly notable due to it being easily accessible. There is parking available at the entrance to ‘The Steel’. Near this camp you can also find the ‘Robin of Risingham’ – a Roman shrine to a Celtic God. This shrine was deliberately damaged by the landowner in the 19th century to deter visitors. A half-size replica has since been installed but the site is not readily accessible to the public.
This site was originally called Habitancum and is at West Woodburn.the outline of the fort Cn be clearly seen today along with the foundations of dome of the internal buildings. Access is currently permitted by the landowner.
This is the site of Bremenium – the last Roman Fort on Dere Street before the Cheviot Hills. At the fort, there is a permissive path which allows access to the whole perimeter as well as a public footpath through the middle of the site. The exterior boundary is very clear and parts of the gates and the walls are well exposed.
The Roman road between Bremenium and Whittingham lies just past Holystone and has left two key remains. If you follow the forest track west from the village car park you will begin to follow the route of this Roman road. 800m after passing through a gate, there is an exposed section of the road, which is very rare in Northumberland as these roads have long since been covered over. Signposted in the village is Lady’s Well, which has a history dating as far back as Pagan times. It is now a Christian shrine but was most likely adopted by the Romans as a wayside shrine.
Excavation digs are always discovering new sites. A new site, with a more recent history, has been discovered in Holystone. Residents from the area have just completed a 10 day dig to trace more remains of the medieval priory that was first uncovered in 2015. The priory is believed to have existed in the 12th century until it was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1539.
Volunteers have now discovered more of the medieval foundation falls and flooring but the biggest star was created as they worked their way through the remains of demolished 18th and 19th century cottages.
They revealed an almost intact kitchen range that still had a large cast iron cooking cauldron in place on the hearth. This has given the villagers a sense that whoever lived in the cottage had to leave in a hurry. They are now carrying out archive searches to try and discover who lived there and why they had to leave.
Come and visit Northumberland and stay in a holiday cottage that will enable you to have the freedom to see these less popular Roman sites. You could also go and see the newly discovered piece of history in Holystone for yourself.