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Granaries at Birdoswald Roman Fort

Granaries at Birdoswald Roman Fort

This evening, I am posting information on Birdoswald Roman Fort on Hadrian’s Wall.

By way of background, the whole of the western 30 miles of the Wall, including the Birdoswald area, was originally built of turf but subsequently rebuilt in stone commencing at end of Hadrian’s reign and then again after reoccupation of the Wall in the 160s.

The castellated house shown in the background of the above image has nothing to do with the Roman period but does represent continuity of occupation of the site from the Roman period through to the current day.

The Roman name for Birdoswald was Banna. More information:

  • One of the twelve primary forts on the line of the Wall.
  • Location is about 18 miles N.E.of Carlisle.
  • Sits atop an escarpment overlooking the River Irthing.
  • The north wall lies under the modern road but remaining three walls are visible.
  • The visible stone fort replaced an earlier turf fort on a different alignment. Later fort integrated within the Wall.
  • Regiment in occupation in 2nd century not known but in third and fourth centuries a unit from what is now Romania was stationed at Birdoswald, this was the First Aelian Cohort of Dacians. This force may have totalled about 500 men.
  • The site continued to be occupied after the Romans departed in the 5th century. At this stage the granaries were converted into a large timber hall of a type favoured by the Anglo-Saxons. This may have the base of a local chieftain filling a power vacuum.
  • There is evidence that the site continued to be occupied through to AD 800 (post-Roman) and then into the medieval and modern periods.
  • Birdoswald is on the line of the Hadrian’s Wall Path (hiking trail) and as such attracts many passing visitors.
  • There is a well resourced visitor centre together with shop and refreshment facilities on site.
Roman Potter with wares

Roman Potter with wares

East Gate at Birdoswald Roman Fort, Hadrian's Wall.

East Gate at Birdoswald Roman Fort, Hadrian’s Wall.

South Gate at Birdoswald Roman Fort, Hadrian's Wall

South Gate at Birdoswald Roman Fort, Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian's Wall at Birdoswald Roman Fort.

Hadrian’s Wall at Birdoswald Roman Fort.

Granaries at Birdoswald Roman Fort

Granaries at Birdoswald Roman Fort

Glasgow Necropolis, Scotland

Glasgow Necropolis, Scotland

This evening, I escorted a Scandinavian tour group around Glasgow Necropolis.

This is one of the world’s great burial grounds.

The Necropolis is located close to Glasgow’s 13th century Cathedral. As a burial ground it had its genesis in the 1830s when Glasgow was expanding at a fast rate as a function of the Industrial Revolution.Unhealthy and unsanitary conditions led to a high death rate with which the existing burial grounds were unable to cope.

Glasgow Cathedral, Scotland

Glasgow Cathedral, Scotland

The Necropolis (meaning City of the Dead) was used for burials from the 1930s. About 50,000  bodies are interred there.

During the 19th century Glasgow was known as the ‘second city of the British Empire’ creating huge wealth for certain elites many of whom were laid to rest in the Necropolis marked by extravagant, elaborate and expensive mausoleums and other monuments.

Principal access to the Necropolis is via impressive cast iron gates which provide access to the “Bridge of Sighs”.

Entrance Gates to Bridge of Sighs, Glasgow

Entrance Gates to Bridge of Sighs, Glasgow

James Merry Mausoleum, Glasgow Necropolis, Scotland.

James Merry Monument, Glasgow Necropolis, Scotland.

Wilson Mausoleum and Houldsworth Mausoleum

Wilson Mausoleum and Houldsworth Mausoleum

Charles Tennant Monument, Glasgow Necropolis, Scotland.

Charles Tennant Monument, Glasgow Necropolis, Scotland.

Monteath Mausoleum, Glasgow Necropolis, Scotland

Monteath Mausoleum, Glasgow Necropolis, Scotland

Davidson Monument, Glasgow Necropolis, Scotland.

Davidson Monument, Glasgow Necropolis, Scotland.

Crypt Entrance Facade, Glasgow Necropolis, Scotland.

Crypt Entrance Facade, Glasgow Necropolis, Scotland.

Landscape view of Vindolanda Roman Site.

Landscape view of Vindolanda Roman Site.

This evening, I am posting information on Vindolanda, a Roman military site close to Hadrian’s Wall in northern England. Location is about 13 miles S.W.of Hexham.

Vindolanda is extensive, comprising both military fort and civilian settlement (vicus). Archaeological research is ongoing and has revealed a wealth of artifacts and finds including textiles, footwear, human and animal bones, weaponry, coins, leather goods and unique written communications know as the ‘Vindolanda Tablets’.

Summary information on the site as follows:

  • Original fort established around AD 85, some forty years before commencement of Hadrian’s Wall.
  • In the early years the fort was constructed of wood and hence was required to be rebuilt at regular intervals. It is likely that the fort had been rebuilt five times by the early years of Hadrian’s reign ( 117-138). At each rebuild the old fort was levelled and covered in turf, a process which created perfect anaerobic conditions for preservation of perishable items such as textiles, leather and wood. Overall, the Vindolanda fort could have been rebuilt ten times before the Romans departed in the early fourth century.
  • Initially, the fort housed the 1000 strong, Ninth Cohort of Batavians ( from Gaul/France) who departed in AD 105 to fight in the Dacian Wars (Romania). For most of the life of the fort it appears that Vindolanda was the base for the Fourth Cohort of Gauls, a unit possibly half the size of the Ninth Cohort.
  • The site today comprises (a) a playing card shaped military stone fort within which were barracks, residence of Commanding Officer and H.Q. Building and (b) a civilian settlement outside the west gate of the fort made up of homes, shops and workshops plus a bath house and granaries.
  • The site was well-engineered with water supply system part of which remains extant.
  • The physical stonework remaining today mainly dates from the 3rd and 4th centuries.
  • Vindolanda is probably best known for the famous ‘Vindolanda Tablets’, a large number of routine military and private communications written on thin veneers of wood in the mid 120s but unintentionally preserved owing to being discarded in a water-logged pit and then secured in the anaerobic conditions adverted to above. These tablets provide a unique insight into daily life and social conditions including, surprisingly, the presence of women on the frontier.
  • The site continued to be occupied into the 5th and 6th centuries, long after the collapse of Roman power in Britain in AD 410. There is evidence of an early Christian Church on the site dating from the post-Roman period.

The site benefits from a Visitor Centre with shop, museum and refreshment facilities.

Visitors should allow up to two hours to gain an initial appreciation for the archaeology.

Vindolanda Roman Site

Vindolanda Roman Site

Granary and stores buildings at Vindolanda.

Granary and stores buildings at Vindolanda.

Foundations at Vindolanda Roman Site

Foundations at Vindolanda Roman Site

Vindolanda site overview from Bath House

Vindolanda site overview from Bath House

Bath House at Vindolanda Roman Site.

Bath House at Vindolanda Roman Site.

Archaeology in process at Vindolanda Roman Site.

Archaeology in process at Vindolanda Roman Site.

Archaeologist explaining finds at Vindolanda.

Archaeologist explaining finds at Vindolanda.