More than 350 Roman shoes are among a number of exciting discoveries which have been unearthed along Hadrian’s Wall. At Vindolanda, near Bardon Mill in Northumberland, and on urban Tyneside, archaeologists and volunteers have been digging to uncover the history of the Wall.
The shoes, which have been discovered during excavations at Vindolanda since April, include small children’s shoes, ladies’ shoes and large army marching boots. The footwear is all either well-worn or has been recycled for parts, and is believed to be the result of a deliberate dumping of leather shoes in around AD212.
Other recent discoveries at Vindolanda include a bronze bust of the god Apollo, wooden barrel staves, spoons, and a considerable amount of bone, pottery and iron. Cavalry barracks, a toilet block, ovens, mixed flagstone and earthen floors, paved outer courtyards and impressive drains are just some of the features found by the team since the excavations began in April.
Further to the East at Arbeia Roman Fort in South Shields, volunteers from community archaeology projects unearthed a beautifully crafted miniature bronze figure of the Roman goddess, Ceres. The figure is thought to be a mount from a larger piece of furniture and is the second goddess found by volunteers at Arbeia in the last two years. As the goddess of agriculture, grain and fertility, Ceres is highly appropriate for Arbeia which was originally a supply base where thousands of tons of grain were stored in granaries to feed the army stationed along Hadrian’s Wall. The figure is now on display to the general public at Arbeia Roman Fort.
Many recent finds feature in the Hadrian’s Wall on Tyneside exhibition at Segedunum Roman Fort in Wallsend, Newcastle upon Tyne, which runs until Sunday 30 October and showcases the latest evidence of the Roman frontier in urban Tyneside. The new exhibition, which is the culmination of Tyne and Wear Archives and Museum’s three-year WallQuest community archaeology project, features the recently discovered Roman bath house at Segedunum and a further 50m of Hadrian’s Wall.
The discovery of the bath-house prompted the first sizable excavation of a building of this kind on Hadrian’s Wall since the 19 th century. It’s the first time the remains have been seen in more than 200 years, as it was hidden under the foundation of a pub, which was recently demolished.
Similarly, the additional 50 metres of Hadrian’s Wall which was first discovered in 1998 has been undercover since then to protect it. Following conservation, visitors can now see the new section of the Wall for the first time including a small culvert, created in Roman times to accommodate the flow of a stream running underneath. Conservation is underway to preserve the Wall, including consolidation, a technique carried out by specialist heritage masons using lime mortar that the Romans employed.
At Housesteads Roman Fort in the Northumberland National Park, archaeological remains were discovered during works to prepare for a car park extension at the National Trust visitor centre. Stonework and fragments of Roman pottery were found, suggesting a Roman road, running from the north-west to the south-east. The car park at Housesteads has now been re-designed to protect the archaeology and the remains have been safeguarded under layers of protective fabric and sand.
Humphrey Welfare, the Chair of the Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site Partnership, said:
“There have been some wonderful archaeological finds along Hadrian’s Wall so far this year. The Wall marked the northern boundary of the Roman Empire for nearly 300 years and it now draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to the North of England every year. Everything we find on the Wall teaches us more about the Roman story in Hadrian’s Wall Country. These historically significant finds add to our knowledge and understanding and we are keen to encourage as many people as possible to explore this special monument and enjoy learning about archaeology during their visit.”
For more information about Hadrian’s Wall Country visit: www.hadrianswallcountry.co.uk.