Corbridge (1)

Posted: July 25, 2016 in History, Northumberland, Roman History, UK
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Corbridge is a small town, 25 miles inland from the North Sea along the valley of the River Tyne. To the west of the modern town is the site of Roman Corbridge, 2 miles south of Hadrian’s Wall. The impressive remains that are on display are only the central area of the settlement consisting of the military sector, but aerial photography has shown a much more extensive settlement surrounding the base. It’s location was at the junction of Stanegate (the Roman road running from Newcastle to Carlisle which had formed the definition of the northern border of Roman occupation prior to the completion of Hadrian’s Wall) and Dere Street (running north from York).



The Roman army arrived in Northumberland around 70AD following the Brigantian rebellion in AD69. The first activity at Corbridge seems to date from the first excursion into Scotland by Julius Agricola and the site of the original fort lies a mile to the west of the later settlement. The victory of Agricola at the battle of Mons Graupius (? Near modern day Aberdeen) in 83 AD seemed to mark the successful end of the campaign but following barbarian invasions in the Danube region troops were withdrawn from Britain and the strategic decision was made to withdraw from Scotland to the original border and thus Corbridge changed from a supply base to an frontier post. At this time a new fort was constructed on the current site. There is an interesting interlude around 105AD when the Corbridge fort was burnt down and a number of other local forts were abandoned, suggesting perhaps that the Romans temporarily lost control of the area. However, the fort was soon rebuilt and at this time Stanegate was constructed.



The change in street level during Roman occupation. The coloumn bases were st original street level but later steps had to be provided to descend from street level.

The change in street level during Roman occupation. The column bases were st original street level but later steps had to be provided to descend from street level.

In 122AD the visiting Emperor Hadrian decided to erect a more visible frontier and work on Hadrian’s Wall commenced and Corbridge served as one of the major bases for the construction. This new function also resulted in a number of changes at Corbridge with new granaries and modifications to the principa building. Further expansions and modifications accompanied the campaigns into Scotland by the Emperor Antoninus Puis with the addition of many stone buildings including barracks replacing the previous timber walled buildings. However by 161 AD the campaigns had been suspended and the border once again became Hadrian’s Wall.  At this time evidence suggests that Corbridge had become a base for detachments from the 6th and 20th Legions (the majority of troops stationed along the wall were auxiliaries).At some point in the third century these were also joined at Corbridge by a detachment from the 2nd Legion.

Location for water tank feeding street fountains

Location for water tank feeding street fountains


Roman walls

Roman walls

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