Segedunum: Wallsend


Plan of Segedunum.
(After Roman Britain 1981).


  • Wallsend, Tyne-and-Wear, Northumberland.
  • OSGB – NZ 30004 66067, NZ 30037 65992.


The site is located at the eastern end of Hadrian’s Wall and guards the River Tyne. Built on the northern banks at a bend in the river it covers 1.65 ha, measuring 138m by 120m. Where the fort looks over the River Tyne, there is a steep slope, giving added natural protection. Strategically placed, this fort was built to withstand attacks from the North of Hadrian’s’ Wall, and was the eastern most terminus.

Within the Roman Empire there were 5 sites which held the name SEGEDUNUM, and there has been debate whether this is the site of that name which appears in the Notitia Dignitatum in the Roman province of Britannia – due to the archaeological evidence it is now shown to be.

The etymology (name) of the site is now generally believed to mean either strong fort or strong enclosure.

This most eastern section of Hadrian’s Wall was added later than when the main wall was erected, and is thinner than the rest, it also had no vallum here. However, a rampart and ditch did surround Segedunum, and archaeology has discovered evidence of upright wooden stakes being placed within the ditch, as a deterrent to mounted attackers. Archaeologically these date to when the wall was first constructed,

Three rows and each held two short posts on average 180mm in diameter….sharpened to make them a formidable obstacle (Breeze 2011).


The replica Roman bath house at Segedunum fort in Wallsend.
By Carole Raddato from FRANKFURT, Germany – The replica Roman bath house at Segedunum fort in Wallsend, CC BY-SA 2.0,


The fort comprised of a defensive wall which had the usual four gates, there is also a smaller minor gate located south of the western gate. in the fort the buildings included

      • The Principia (HQ)
      • The Praetorium (Commanding Offices House)
      • Horraea (granaries)
      • Workshops
      • Hospital
      • Infantry Barracks
      • Cavalry Barracks and stables.


Sandstone was the main building material and was used in the construction of the cavalry barracks, granaries, drainage culverts and hospital latrines.

There is evidence of three phases of construction.

Phase I – 125 AD

      • The fort originally covered 1.5 ha.
      • Barracks were timber, the majority of the other buildings were of stone.
      • Included the aforementioned buildings.


Phase II – c.180-230

      • Baths constructed.
      • Cross Hall added in front of the Principia.
      • Water tanks added.
      • Barracks and stables were remodeled.


Phase III – Late 3rd Century – early 4th Century

      • Barracks rebuilt.
      • Industrial buildings date from.
      • Evidence of shacks within the walls.
      • The hospital was demolished, and a strip house built within the remains.


Not all of the buildings were of stone, but the main ones were from the beginning, which is unusual for a fort at that time. One interesting fact which archaeology had shown is that some of the walls of the buildings did not have foundations, they were built directly upon a base of clay, cobble and sandstone.


Segedunum Roman fort. The view from the 52977.
By Keith Edkins, CC BY-SA 2.0,


The Barracks were separated into two areas, the infantry in the barracks to the north and the cavalry in the barracks located at the southern end of the site. The barracks buildings measured 28 m in length plus an additional 14m for the officers’ quarters. The cavalry barracks included stabling the horses in the same area as their riders, possibly for rapid deployment should the need arise.

Stationed at Segedunum were cohors quingenaira equitata; possibly, II Augusta Brittonum Nervianna; IV Lingonum during the 3rd-4th centuries which included 600 men, broken down to 120 cavalry and 480 infantry. The site was, overall, garrisoned for around 300 years.

A Vicus has been identified to the south of the fort, within the area protected by Hadrian’s Wall. This site was around half a mile long and stood on the Military Way. Archaeology has been able to trace industrial activity, 2-3 streets, a pottery kiln, 3rd century buildings and evidence of banks and ditches dating from this period defending the site, and the possible re-use of the site during the 4th century.

The Military Way was the road which stretched along the rear of Hadrian’s Wall and was the main link between the forts and milecastles. It stretched the complete length of the Wall from Wallsend to Bowness-on-Solway. The road was situated between the wall and the vallum (ditch) and was constructed between 122-126 AD.


1. Gaming board. 2. Die. 3. Gaming counters.
By James Murray, CC BY-SA 2.0 uk,


In the following timeline I have also included when inscriptions have been discovered. RIB stands for Romans Inscriptions of Britain, and there is an amazing website which gives you all of the information in much finer detail. You can visit it at


Here is the timeline for the site, (c. = around this time),


c.122                 Built. Possibly garrisoned by Cohors quingenaira equitata.

c.122-126           The Military Way was constructed.

c.160                 The timber barracks were replaced in stone.

c.225-250           Cohors IV Lingonum garrisoned the site.

3rd C                  Barracks occupied until.

c.4th C               The wall was refaced.

c.400                 Abandoned.

1732                 Before: RIB 1306 & RIB 1302 discovered.

1783                 An inscribed stone was found as well as a damaged figure of the Roman God Mercury. RIB 1305 discovered.

1875                 Before: RIB 1308 & RIB 1300 discovered.

1884                 Rows of houses built upon the site.

1892                 RIB 1299 discovered.

1894                 RIB 1301 uncovered.

c.1896               RIB 1307 discovered.

1912                 The East Gate of the fort was relocated and erected in Wallsend Park with stone taken from the site.

1929                 Excavated. The outline of the fort was recorded.

1951                 Field Investigation.

1968                 Field Investigation.

1970’s               Houses on the site were demolished.

1975-1984          Excavations undertaken.

1977                 Hospital excavated. Aerial photograph.

1977-1979          The Barracks at the rear of the fort were excavated.

1978                 Field Investigation.

1979                 Field Investigation.

1984                 Hospital excavated. The complete outline of the fort was determined.

1992                 Aerial photograph.

1990’s               Part of Hadrian’s Wall was excavated and reconstructed.

1993                 A section of Hadrian’s Wall was uncovered near the ship yard.

1997                 The Segedunum Project began – this included excavations, rebuilding of the Bath House, and converting the local ship-yard into a museum. Hospital area excavated.

1998                 Barracks excavated. Shown to be unique, as the horse and men were billeted together within the same area. RIB 3281 uncovered.

2000                 The Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths & Museum was officially opened to the public.

2001                 A section of the defences were uncovered in the Swan Hunter Ship Yard.

2013                 Evaluated.

2015                 Bath House excavated.


Building inscription from one of the four main gates at Wallsend, (the work) of the Emperor Caesar Trajan Hadrian Augustus, father of this country. Sixth Legion Victrix (built this), Wallsend.
By Carole Raddato from FRANKFURT, Germany. CC BY-SA 2.0,


Over time the site was robbed of stone for building materials. Jarrow Monastery and the local colliery used a lot of the building materials.

It is believed that the town which once stood on the site was devastated by the plague and abandoned, and the new town of Wallsend built further to the east.

Despite everything this site has been through, including the destruction of remains through agriculture and industry, aspects of it still remain today.  The preservation of the remains and its memory is kept alive by the Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths & Museum, ensuring a safe future – if only this could be done at a number of other sites!

This short video by Newcastle University gives a visual depiction of the phases of the site – well worth a watch, and re-watch! – Newcastle University – How did the Roman site of Segedunum, Wallsend, transform the landscape? –


RIB 1300



Segedunum Roman Fort References & Bibliography

Allason-Jones. L. 1984. A Lead Shrine from Wallsend. Britannia, 15, 231-232. doi:10.2307/526595.

Allason-Jones. L. 1999. Health Care in the Roman North. Britannia, 30, 133-146. doi:10.2307/526676.

Breeze. D., & Dobson. B. 1972. Hadrian’s Wall: Some Problems. Britannia, 3, 182-208. doi:10.2307/526026.

Breeze. D. 2003. John Collingwood Bruce and the Study of Hadrian’s Wall. Britannia, 34, 1-18. doi:10.2307/3558534.

Breeze D. 2011. The Frontiers of the Roman Empire. Casemate Publishers.

Bruce. J. C. 1875. Lapidarium Septentrionale: Or, A Description of the Monuments of Roman Rule in the North of England. B. Quaritch.

Bruce. J. C. 1851. The Roman Wall: A Historical, Topographical, and Descriptive Account of the Barrier of the Lower Isthmus, Extending from the Tyne to the Solway,deduced from Numerous Personal Surveys. J. R. Smith.

Burnham. B., Hunter. F., Fitzpatrick. A., Hassall. M., & Tomlin. R. 2002. Roman Britain in 2001. Britannia, 33, 275-371. doi:10.2307/1558866.

Chapman. E., Hunter. F., Booth. P., Wilson. P., Pearce. J., Worrell. S., & Tomlin. R. 2014. Roman Britain in 2013. Britannia, 45, 307-462. Retrieved December 17, 2020, from

Chapman. E., Hunter. F., Wilson. P., Booth. P., Pearce. J., Worrell. S., & Tomlin. R. 2016. Roman Britain in 2015. Britannia, 47, 287-415. Retrieved December 17, 2020, from

Collins. R. 2012. Hadrian’s Wall and the End of Empire: The Roman Frontier in the 4th and 5th Centuries. Routledge.

Hanson. W. 1996. Forest Clearance and the Roman Army. Britannia, 27, 354-358. doi:10.2307/527052.

Haverfield. F. 1892. Roman Inscriptions in Britain, Volumes 2-3. William Pollard & Company.

Hodgson. N., & Bidwell. P. 2004. Auxiliary Barracks in a New Light: Recent Discoveries on Hadrian’s Wall. Britannia, 35, 121-157. doi:10.2307/4128624.

Hopewell. D., & Hodgson. N. 2012. Further Work at Llanfor Roman Military Complex. Britannia, 43, 29-44. Retrieved December 17, 2020, from

Jarrett. M. 1994. Non-Legionary Troops in Roman Britain: Part One, the Units. Britannia, 25, 35-77. doi:10.2307/526988.

Lobell. J. 2017. The Wall At The End Of The Empire. Archaeology, 70(3), 26-35. Retrieved December 17, 2020, from

MacLauchlan. H. 1858. Memoir Written During a Survey of the Roman Wall, Through the Counties of Northumberland and Cumberland, in 1852-1854. Private Circulation.

Marshman. I. 2014. A Roman Tile with an Intaglio Impression from Wallsend. Britannia, 45, 284-288. Retrieved December 17, 2020, from

Moffat. A. 2012. The Wall: Rome’s Greatest Frontier. Birlinn.

Pastscape. 2020. Wallsend Roman Fort. Available at

Symonds. M. 2020. Hadrian’s Wall: Creating Division. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Turner. S., Semple. S. & Turner. A. 2013. Wearmouth & Jarrow: Northumbrian Monasteries in an Historic Landscape. University of Hertfordshire Press.

Tyne & Wear Museum. Collections. Available at



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