THE first major event will be staged tomorrow in an ambitious community archaeology project which will probe the legacy of Hadrian’s Wall.
The £550,000 venture, backed by £400,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, will involve more than 500 volunteers over three years investigating the Wall and surrounding landscape from urban Tyneside to Tynedale in Northumberland.
It will focus on locations such as Arbeia Roman Fort at South Shields, for many years the supply base for the Wall, the remains of the Roman Fort of Condercum in Benwell in Newcastle, sections of the Wall in Wallsend and central Newcastle, Roman finds from Gateshead and the “lost” Roman road between Chesters and Corbridge in Northumberland.
Tomorrow a line-up of leading North East archaeologists will talk on subjects relating to the project at a conference, titled Hadrian’s Wall and its Legacy on Tyneside, organised by the Arbeia Society at the Customs House in Mill Dam in South Shields.
The project has already started desktop work on analysing and cataloging archaeological finds made over many years.
At the conference, archaeologist Nick Hodgson will outline previously unpublished finds from the 1930s of Roman buildings near Benwell fort, and plans for a trial dig in the area next spring. “The aim will be to see how far the Roman settlement at Benwell extends,” he said.
Other topics will include:
Plans for ground radar searches to try to locate missing stretches of the Wall in Newcastle.
Recent finds have located parts of the Wall in Shields Road, Melbourne Street and the bottom of Westgate Road, but the line in places like the Ouseburn and Westgate Hill has yet to be found.
The widespread use of Roman stones, some carrying inscriptions, in Anglo-Saxon churches in Tynedale, including Bywell, Warden and the crypt of Hexham Abbey.
Radar attempts around Acomb near Hexham to find a missing stretch of the Stanegate Roman road, which ran from Carlisle to the Roman base at Corbridge.
The conference will also hear from archaeologist Alex Croom on the mysteries of Roman tiles, including two from South Shields which bear the imprint of the hobnail shoes of a child who walked across them when they had just been made and had been left out to dry.
The project is being managed by the archaeology section of Tyne Wear Archives and Museums.
Volunteers are being urged to register their interest by emailing nick.hodgson@twmuseums. org.uk Alternatively, anyone interested can call 0191 454 4093.
The cost of tomorrow’s conference is £20 but South Tyneside residents who sign up to volunteer will be admitted free.
There will be similar talk events at a later date in other parts of the project area.