Ouseburn flats mark Hadrian's Wall line in rooftop garden

Anthony Keith Architects worked with archeologists to preserve the rich history of the Ouseburn Valley in latest project

A new housing development in the Ouseburn Valley, designed by Anthony Keith Architects
A new housing development in the Ouseburn Valley, designed by Anthony Keith Architects

Architects worked alongside builders to ensure a housing development marked its site’s connection to Roman history.

Anthony Keith Architects, of Gosforth, worked alongside archeologists to mark the significance of the site at Foundry Lane, in Newcastle’s Ouseburn, which runs over buried remains of Hadrian’s Wall.

A rooftop garden at the development, which provides 42 one and two bedroom flats for The Tyne Housing Association, now marks the line of the wall in stone slabs, alongside an information panel.

During construction, builders for the project, Robertsons, also unearthed a trough - subsequently identified as Roman - which is being displayed at the entrance to the building.

Previously a builders’ yard, the housing association bought the site in 2010, after it had lain derelict for five years. By this stage, the land had suffered problems with contamination and flooding, and was being used by people sleeping rough.

Before building work could begin, the protected site had to be cleared, with archeological and geological excavations being carried out. Archeologists returned to the protect when building work began.

Architect Anthony Keith said: “It was no secret that the land lay on top of Hadrian’s Wall and the archeologists were interested in finding out what was buried there.

“Attempts had been made previously, but it was too difficult to get down far enough.

“The remnants were buried about three or four metres down and we had to distinguish between what had been the wall and what was riverbed stone.

“Interestingly, while the riverbed stone was covered in moss and lichen, the 2000-year old sections of the wall came up clean.”

To keep the wall intact, the supports of the building were built to the sides of the 8m-wide structure.

During digging, remnants of what are thought to be kilns from the old Ouseburn pottery were also recovered, along with a Roman trough.

“This may have been for water or it may have been a burial coffin for a child,” Mr Keith said. “We think it was a water trough and it has been put on display in the garden.”

Established in 1981, Anthony Keith Architects employs six people and has developed specialisms in social housing, veterinary surgeries and care homes for those with learning difficulties.

The company, which has carried out work for The Tyne Housing Association in the past, works all over the country, with more than half of its contracts coming from outside the North East.

The new Ouseburn development is believed to the first new housing project in the heart of the valley for more than 50 years.

With one wing of the L-shaped development being only three stories high, views of the Grade-II listed Byker Bridge have been preserved.

Mr Keith added: “We realised that this meant the roof would be at the same level as the footpath leading down from the Cumberland Arms.

“This gave us an exciting opportunity to allow residents to walk on the line of the wall through the roof garden, learn more about its history and enjoy the dramatic views of the valley.”

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