Housesteads Roman Fort
Set on a high escarpment of Whin Sill in a remote and wild landscape, the extensive ruins and explanatory Visitor Centre bring the fort vividly to life.
The Roman fort, one of 17 along the wall, used Hadrian's Wall as its northern wall.
At first glance the site appears to be almost leveled but much of the surviving fort is below ground.
The museum has a scale model of Housesteads Fort complete with barracks, hospital, granaries, latrine and hypocaust underfloor heating system.
Housesteads Roman Fort was a huge complex covering 5 acres and housing at least 800 troops. The perimeter wall is still intact and there were four double-portal gateways.
The wheels were a standard 1.4 metres apart and much later in history this set the width for the standard railway gauge, still used by 60% of the world's railways!
The West Gate shows the holes for the bar which secured the gates at night and other mason marks on the stonework.
The communal latrines are still intact at the eastern corner of the south wall. Water would have flushed through the latrines and the joist holes from the wooden seats can still be seen by sharp-eyed visitors.
The huge room to the north of the complex was an operating theatre and hospital wards are shown around a central courtyard.
The headquarters building next to the hospital was the centre of administration.
It had a sculpture of the god Mars above the entrance, brightly painted.The Commander's House is particularly detailed and still shows its open courtyard, kitchen with the remains of an oven, a heated bathroom with toilet and stables nearby.
Archaeologists have found some interesting remains which are on display in the museum.
There was a civilian settlement that clustered around the gates.
Some small houses were excavated and a number of bodies were found beneath the floor of one house, suggesting murderous deeds.
The flat-bottomed pottery and cooking pots uncovered from the site are Frisian (German) in origin and show that cavalry from Western Europe was stationed here, probably in the 3rd century.
Corn mills were added when brigands used the site in the 17th century, but otherwise it lay forgotten until English Heritage made it accessible as a remote but fascinating attraction with great views of the Tyne Valley and the Scottish borders.
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Housesteads Roman Fort Postcode for SatNav: NE47 6NN
Nr Bardon Mill