Saturday, April 28, 2018


ROMAN artefacts that suggest Hadrian's Wall was home to women and children, as well as soldiers, have gone on display at Birdoswald Fort Museum at the wall.

The pieces were unearthed during the excavation of a cemetery at one of the wall's forts.

They include cremation urns holding the remains of a woman and child, infants' feeding bottles and remnants of a doll.

English Heritage's Roman collections curator Frances McIntosh said the wall was once "a thriving centre of everyday life".

In the photo above, McIntosh is holding a ceramic baby feeding bottle.

The charity believes the young woman could have been the child's mother, suggesting the wall was not just occupied by military men.

Articles also found in the woman's urn include a section of iron armour chain mail, which would normally indicate a male burial.

"The discovery of this woman and child is fascinating, it leaves us with questions about how they were related, and why she was buried with armour," Ms McIntosh said.

"Even though ordinary Roman soldiers weren't officially allowed to marry until 197AD, a blind eye was often turned and many wives and children would have lived there, alongside a large community of civilians which sprung up to service the forts."

She added, "The discovery of this woman and child is fascinating, it leaves us with questions about how they were related, and why she was buried with armour, but it also reminds us how rich and diverse the story of life on Hadrian's Wall is, something which our new exhibitions at Birdoswald and Corbridge will highlight."

At Corbridge Roman Town, new research has enabled experts to better understand what this town, the most northerly in the Roman Empire, would have actually looked like. 

English Heritage has included the new visualisation as part of its re-presentation of the museum, which houses the largest collection of Roman finds on Hadrian's Wall, including the world famous Corbridge Hoard. 

Alongside the children’s games and toys, another highlight is an exquisite perfume vase, in impeccable condition which will go on display for the first time.  

Likely to have contained precious oils such as frankincense or the indulgent fragrance of rose water, this beautiful blue enamelled copper vessel belonged to a high status woman. 

The research behind the new exhibition at Corbridge has called into question the established chronology for the site and debunked archaeological myths, giving visitors a fascinating insight into the ordinary people of Corbridge, their lives and the changes they saw between 150AD-410 AD.

At Birdoswald Roman Fort a new permanent exhibition tells the story of the garrison and its support communities, providing a number of interactive experiences especially designed for families, including a have-a-go crane which demonstrates the expertise that was required to build the wall, and a periscope so visitors can see the same view as the Roman look-outs. 

Outside visitors can take part in a new clue-cracking trail and appreciate the location of the fort which sits on the longest continuous section of Hadrian's Wall.

New facilities including education rooms, a café and shop complete the experience.

The new permanent exhibitions at Birdoswald Roman Fort and Corbridge Roman Town are open daily.

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