Arbeia Roman Fort & Museum2,000 years of guard duty at the eastern end of Hadrian’s vision have left their mark here. Arbeia literally means ‘Place of the Arabs’ which is, we have to admit, somewhat unusual in South Shields.
Stunning full-scale reconstructions of original buildings including the commander’s house, a barrack block and a gatehouse provide a unique and inspiring insight into Roman military life. The Roman fort at Arbeia once guarded the entrance to the river Tyne and served as a supply centre, receiving goods from across the North Sea and along the east coast to supply the thousands of Roman troops stationed along Hadrian’s Wall.
The foundations of granaries, barracks and the headquarters building can be clearly made out and the site museum houses a fine collection of objects found during the on-going programme of excavations at the site.
Part of the garrison at one time was a squadron of specialist boatmen from the banks of the river Tigris in what is now Iraq. A squadron of Spanish cavalry was also stationed here. Finds from the site illustrate the cosmopolitan nature of its changing population. Regina was a British woman from Kent who was first a slave then a freedwoman and wife of Barates, a merchant from Palmyra in modern Syria. Victor was also a former slave, this time a north African, freed by Numerianus, a trooper in a regiment of Spanish cavalry.
The site is managed by Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums Trust on behalf of South Tyneside Council.1 Apr - 1 Oct Mon-Fri 10-5; Sat 11-4; Sun 2-5
Closed 2 Oct -31 MarAdmission: Free(0191) 456 1369
Sat Nav: NE33 2BB
Arbeia Roman Fort is a ten minute walk from South Shields Metro and Bus Station. The Fort is signposted from Ocean Road.
Other things to do
Whilst in South Shields you could also visit South Shields Museum and Art Gallery (also managed by TWAM) to see their fascinating galleries on local history.
If it’s more heritage you’re after, try Bede’s World or St Paul’s Monastery (Jarrow) just a short hop away on the Metro.
For those wanting to explore the outdoors, why not visit the stunning coastline from South Shields beach down to Souter Lighthouse (National Trust property) at Whitburn.
Or take the ferry across the river to North Shields and explore the historic Fish Quay.
In the town centre there is a Tourist Information Centre.