It was in use as a garrison for approximately 300 years, almost up to 400AD. Today, Segedunum is the most thoroughly excavated fort along Hadrian’s Wall, and is operated as Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths and Museum.
The central section of Hadrian’s Wall was erected atop the Whin Sill, a geological formation that offers a natural topographic defense against invaders or immigrants from the north. However at the eastern end of the wall, the main topographic defense was the River Tyne itself, and the very final stretch of the wall ran down from Segedunum fort to the river’s edge.
In the Roman Empire, 5 places named Segedunum were known to have existed (1 each in Britannia and Germania and 3 in Gallia). The first element of the name is attested widely in Gaul, Spain, Germany and Italy, and derives from the Indo-European root segh-, which is reflected in various later European languages with similar meanings (Irishseg-,segh- “strength, vigor”; Welshhy- “daring, bold”; GermanSieg “victory”).
As applied to place names, it appears to have had the meaning of “place of strength” or “place of victory”. The subsequent element, -dunum, is a Celtic term widely attested across Britain and Gaul and typically meant a fort. Thus Segedunum probably had the meaning of “strong fort” or “victory fort”.
The name Wallsend comes from Segedunum being at the easternmost end of Hadrian’s Wall. The westernmost end of the wall is at Bowness-on-Solway.
The name Segedunum is known from the Notitia Dignitatum of the 4th Century, but there is no consensus on its meaning. The various speculations include being derivative of the Celtic words sego (strength) and dunum (fortified place); Romano-British Segedunum (Strong-fort); and Celtic sechdun (dry hill).
Subsequently, in about AD 127, the wall was extended further east. It has been hypothesized that the extension was to protect the river crossing at Pons Aelius, but this is only speculation.
A 4-mile section of the wall east from the fort of Pons Aelius, passing through present-day Byker and ending at the new fort of Segedunum was built. The new section of wall was narrower than the sections previously built, being 7 feet 6 inches on a foundation of 8 feet.
Unlike the rest of the wall, the extension had no vallum. The fort measured 453 feet from north to south and 393 feet from east to west, covering an area of 4.1 acres.
A wide ditch and an earth embankment surrounded the fort on all sides. It had 4 double gates with the east, west and north gates opening outside the wall and only the south gate opening within the wall.
The wall joined to the west wall of the fort just south of the west gate. From the southeast angle of the fort, a 6 feet 6 inches wide wall ran down to the riverbank and extended at least as far as the low water level.
There is evidence that there was an extensive vicus (village surrounding the fort), including the area to the north of the wall.
The original garrison of Segedunum is unknown, but in the 2nd Century the II Nerviorum (2ndCohort of Nervians) was stationed there. In the 3rd and 4th Centuries the part-mounted IV Lingonum Eq (4th Cohort of the Lingones) occupied the fort, as recorded in the Notitia Dignitatum.
Sometime round about AD 400 the fort was abandoned. For centuries the area remained as open farmland.
Then, in the 18th Century, collieries were sunk near the fort and the area gradually became a populous pit village. Eventually, in 1884, the whole fort disappeared under terraced housing.
In 1929 some excavations were carried out which recorded the outline of the fort, and the local authority marked out this outline in white paving stones. In the 1970s the terraced houses covering the site were demolished.
A section of Hadrian’s Wall was excavated and a reconstruction built in the early 1990s. The Segedunum project began in January 1997 with a series of excavations in and around the Fort.
The project then incorporated the construction of the bath house and the conversion of former Swan Hunter shipyard buildings to house the new museum. Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths & Museum opened to the public in June 2000.
The site of the fort now contains the excavated remains of the buildings’ foundation of the original fort, as well as a reconstructed Roman military bathhouse based on excavated examples at Vindolanda and Chesters forts.
A museum contains items of interest that were found when the site was excavated, and a large observation tower overlooks the site. A portion of the original wall is visible across the street from the museum, and a reconstruction of what the whole wall might have looked like.
There may have been a statue or monument to mark the very end of Hadrian’s Wall, but if there ever was, it no longer exists. The North Tyneside Council provided accommodation in the newly built Battle Hill Estate for the owners of all the houses demolished when the site was cleared.
We hope you enjoyed today’s adventure as we completed our journey across the towns and forts that made up Hadrian’s Wall. Check us out again soon and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!
Bruce, J. Collingwood. Handbook to the Roman Wall. Harold Hill & Son, 1863. ISBN 0-85983-140-X.
Chamberlin, R. “Hadrian’s Wallsend”. History Today, Volume: 50 Issue: 8. August 2000.
Throughout the journeys we have uncovered everything from Roman Laws to people of interest to historic places. As we carry on, it’s time to take a closer look at an item that was made for a Roman deity and hero.
The Romans adapted the Greek hero’s iconography and myths for their literature and art under the name Hercules. In later Western art and literature and in popular culture, Hercules is more commonly used than Heracles as the name of the hero.
Hercules was a multifaceted figure with contradictory characteristics, which enabled later artists and writers to pick and choose how to represent him. Known for his many adventures, one of which became canonical as the “Twelve Labours” took him to the far reaches of the Greco-Roman world.
Needless to say, Hercules had a reputation anywhere that Roman Latin or Greek was spoken. This leads us to Hispania and the Tower of Hercules.
Known in Galician and Spanish as el Torre de Hércules, this ancient Romanlighthouse stands on a peninsula about 1.5 mi from the center of A Coruña, Galicia, in north-western Spain. The almost 1900 year old structure is the oldest Roman lighthouse in use today, and also the oldest existing lighthouse in the world.
Until the 20th Century, the 180 ft tall tower was known by the LatinFarum Brigantium. The Latin word Farum is derived from the Greek pharos for the Lighthouse of Alexandria.
Built or perhaps rebuilt under Trajan, The tower is known to have existed by the 2nd Century AD. The foundations of which are possibly based on a design that was Phoenician in origin.
At its base is preserved the cornerstone with the inscription MARTI AUG.SACR C.SEVIVS LVPVS ARCHTECTVS AEMINIENSIS LVSITANVS.EX.VO, permitting the original lighthouse tower to be ascribed to the architect Gaius Sevius Lupus, from Aeminium (present-day Coimbra, Portugal) in the former province of Lusitania, as an offering dedicated to Mars.
The earliest known reference to the lighthouse at Brigantium is by Paulus Orosius in Historiae adversum Paganos written around 415-417:
Secundus angulus circium intendit, ubi Brigantia Gallaeciae civitas sita altissimum farum et inter pauca memorandi operis ad speculam Britanniae erigit (At the second angle of the circuit circumnavigating Hispania], where the Gallaecian city of Brigantia is sited, a very tall lighthouse is erected among a few commemorative works, for looking towards Britannia.)
In 1788, the original 112 ft, 3-story tower was given a neoclassical restoration, including a new 69 ft fourth story. The restoration was undertaken by naval engineer Eustaquio Giannini during the reign of Charles III of Spain, and was finished in 1791.
The Romans who conquered this region of Spain believed it to be, in a figurative sense, the end of the earth, whence its name Finisterra. This region is notorious for shipwrecks, earning it the name Costa da Morte (Coast of Death).
Through the millennia, many mythical stories of the tower’s origin have been told. According to a myth that blends Celtic and Greco-Roman elements, the hero Hercules slew the giant tyrant Geryon after 3 days and 3 nights of continuous battle.
Hercules then, in a Celtic gesture, buried the head of Geryon with his weapons and ordered that a city be built on the site. The lighthouse was set atop a skull and crossbones representing the buried head of Hercules’ slain enemy appears in the coat-of-arms of the city of Corunna.
Another legend embodied in the 11th Century Irish compilation Lebor Gabála Érenn, the Book of Invasions, King Breogán, the founding father of the Galician Celtic nation, constructed a massive tower of such a grand height that his sons could see a distant green shore from its top. The glimpse of that distant green land lured them to sail north to Ireland.
According to the legend, Breogán’s descendants stayed in Ireland and are the Celtic ancestors of the current Irish people. A colossal statue of Breogán has been erected near the Tower.
Early geographical descriptions on the location of Brigantium point out that the town could be actually located in Corunna or in the locality of the modern town of Betanzos. Both in literary accounts as well as in maps, the people from Betanzos claim Brigantium as the founding city and they also believe that the name Betanzos is a phonetical evolution from Brigantium > Breganzo > Betanzos.
The Betanzos tradition claims that the port of Betanzos was getting too small for the larger medieval ships, and that king Alfonso IX of León decided to create a bigger port nearby in the 13th Century. The place he chose was an uninhabited place called Clunia, which later on evolved to Cruña and Coruña, and the place name Clunia is believed to come from the Proto-Celtic root *klou̯ni (cf. Old Irishcluain), meaning meadow.
However, the Coruña tradition maintains that the “port” of Betanzos was way too small for the Roman warships to dock, for example when Julius Caesar visited this area with “more than a hundred trirēmis“. It is demonstrated that Corunna was an important Roman site, as graveyards and other Roman remains have been found in the city center, demonstrating that the site was inhabited from the Roman period the early Middle Ages.
The proponents of Corunna also explain the different name as a change that occurred in the Middle Ages, and point out the fact that the lighthouse, which was called Pharum Brigantium, is placed in Corunna, and at least 16 mi walking distance or a whole day’s journey, from Betanzos.
A medieval watchtower in Segovia also bears the name “Tower of Hercules”.
We hope you enjoyed today’s adventure as we uncovered the world’s oldest lighthouse. Check us out again soon and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Built by the Moors in a defensive position at the heart of the Caliphate of Cordoba, Cuenca is an unusually well-preserved medieval fortified city. Conquered by the Castilians in the 12th Century, it became a royal town and bishopric endowed with important buildings, such as Spain’s first Gothic cathedral, and the famous casas colgadas (hanging houses), suspended from sheer cliffs overlooking the Huécar River.
Taking full advantage of its location, the city towers above the magnificent countryside.
We hope you enjoyed today’s trip and look forward to having you back. Make sure to tell your friends and family about us on Facebook and Twitter as well.
The book focuses a lot on Florence, but also touches down in Venice. It is the latter location in which we travel to examine a piece of art so amazing that world leaders have stolen it to show their power.
Although called bronze, analysis suggests that they should be seen as an impure copper (as they are at least 96.67% copper) rather than bronze. The high purity copper was chosen to give a more satisfactory mercury gilding.
The Third Crusade had failed abjectly, and in Western Europe there was little stomach for another go at the Muslims, now firmly in control of the Levant, including Jerusalem and much of the adjacent territory.
The Fourth Crusade saw what might be termed one of the great detours in world military history. Pope Innocent III had become Pope in 1198, and immediately started to preach for a Fourth Crusade (which got underway in October 1202).
A largely French force, but also crucially comprising a significant Venetian contingent, set out from Venice for Cairo in Egypt, intending to invest Jerusalem overland through Egypt. Fewer Crusaders than expected had turned up in Venice, whose merchants and bankers had expended a large amount of money and effort preparing for a much larger army.
Venice expected a significant return on its investment. Venice insisted on payment up front of the princely sum of 85,000 silver marks, which the Crusaders only partially managed by beggaring themselves.
The result was that when the Crusade sailed, the Venetians were feeling decidedly out of pocket. A displaced prince of Constantinople, Alexius Angelis, seized the opportunity presented by the presence of a large but strapped-for-cash army, and offered money, transport, knights, and control of the Greek Orthodox Church if the Crusaders would but place him back on the Byzantine throne in Constantinople.
So the Crusade detoured to Constantinople. The Venetian transports arrived off Constantinople in late June 1203, with the Crusaders finally entering the city on 13 April 1204.
After a siege of many months, the horses were looted by Venetian forces as part of the sack of the capital of the Byzantine Empire. DogeEnrico Dandolo wanted these coveted horses back in Venice to show the Republic’s, and his, power.
To allow them to be transported from Constantinople to Venice, the animals’ heads had supposedly been severed, thus collars were added upon arrival in Venice to obscure said cuts. Once the horses had been deemed ready they were installed on the terrace of the façade of St Mark’s Basilica in 1254.
The Triumphal Quadriga was, of course, not the only things taken from Constantinople by the Venetians during the Crusade. Also ending up in Venice were the Portrait of the Four Tetrarchs, built into a corner of the Basilica of San Marco, adjacent to the Porta della Carta.
The Basilica had been consecrated in 1094, and the consciously Byzantine-style of the building reflected the favored status Venice had long enjoyed in its dealings with the Byzantine Empire. Venice was given the title “favorite daughter of Byzantium” in 1000 by Basil II, as such the Venetians’ prided themselves in possessing an edifice which shared the same magnificent architectural design as the ancient basilicas of the Twelve Apostles and of the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople.
The fall of Venice followed on from the plundering of Rome. There was no frontal attack, but rather Napoleon engineered the rebellion of a number of subject cities on the mainland against their Venetian masters, and the Great Council of Venice finally voted itself into extinction.
The horses remained in Venice until looted by Napoleon in 1797. On Napoleon’s orders, the Four Horses were forcibly removed from the basilica and carried off to France.
In 1815 the horses were returned to Venice by Captain Dumaresq. Having fought at the Battle of Waterloo and being with the allied forces in Paris, Dumaresq was selected by the Emperor of Austria to take the horses down from the Arc de Triomphe and return them back to St Mark’s in Venice.
For the skillful manner in which he performed this work the Emperor gave Dumaresq a gold snuff box with his initials in diamonds on the lid.
In addition, Francis Henry Taylor notes in his 1948 book, The Taste of Angels, that the marble facing and incrustation was pried off the exterior of Hagia Sophia to be used as ballast in the Venetian ships before being becoming decoration on the basilica.
The horses remained in place over St Mark’s until the early 1980s, when the ongoing damage from growing air pollution forced their replacement with exact copies. Since then, the originals have been removed from the facade and placed in the interior of St Mark’s for conservation purposes, with replicas in their position on the loggia.
Like many artefacts in museums around the World, the St Mark’s Horses are not simply exquisite objects from a distant past to be admired. They have played an active, symbolic role in Europe’s changing political landscape which make artifacts like these all the more interesting.
We hope you enjoyed today’s look at some stunning horses. Hopefully they’ve seen the last of their travels and will retire in Venice in peace.
Till next time Don’t Stop Rome-ing!
Anon. The Horses of San Marco Thames and Hudson (an English translation of a 1977 Venetian city government publication).
Gallia Cisalpina literally means “Gaul hither side of the Alps” (from the perspective of the Romans). This was opposed to Transalpine Gaul (Gaul on the far side of the Alps).
Cisalpine Gaul (Gallia Cisalpina), also called Gallia Citerior or Gallia Togata, was the part of Italy inhabited by Celts (Gauls) during the 4th and 3rd Centuries BC. Conquered by the Roman Republic in the 220s BC, it was a Roman Provincia from c. 81 BC until 42 BC, when it was merged into Roman Italy.
Gallia Cisalpina was further subdivided into Gallia Cispandana and Gallia Transpadana (portions south and north of the Po River, respectively). The Roman province of the 1st Century BC was bounded on the north and west by the Alps, in the south as far as Placentia by the River Po, and then by the Apennines and the Rubicon, and in the east by the Adriatic Sea.
It has also been proposed that a more ancient proto-Celtic presence can be traced back to the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age (XVI-XV Century BC), when North Western Italy appears closely linked regarding the production of bronze artifacts, including ornaments, to the western groups of the Tumulus culture. The bearers of the Canegrate culture maintained its homogeneity for only a century, after which it melded with the Ligurian aboriginal populations and with this union gave rise to a new phase called the Golasecca culture, which is nowadays identified with the Celtic Lepontii.
The Ligures of the Northern Mediterranean Coast straddling South-east French and North-west Italian coasts, including parts of Tuscany, Elba Island and Corsica, were tribes also present in Latium and in Samnium. According to Plutarch they called themselves Ambrones, which could indicate a relationship with the Ambrones of northern Europe.
The Veneti were an Indo-European people who inhabited north-eastern Italy, in an area corresponding to the modern-day region of the Veneto. By the 4th Century BC the Veneti had been so Celticized that Polybius wrote that the Veneti of the 2nd Century BC were now identical to the Gauls, except for language.
The defeat of the combined Samnite, Celtic and Etruscan alliance by the Romans in the Third Samnite War ending in 290 BC sounded the beginning of the end of the Celtic domination in mainland Europe. At the Battle of Telamon in 225 BC, a large Celtic army was trapped, and summarily crushed, between 2 Roman forces.
These were the Roman forces encountered by Hannibal after his crossing of the Alps. The Romans were defeated in the Battle of the Ticinus, leading to all the Gauls except for the Cenomani to join the insurgency.
The Romans returned only after the defeat of Carthage in 202 BC. Rome conquered the last remaining independent Celtic kingdom in Italy in 192 BC.
Sometimes referred to as Gallia Citerior (Hither Gaul), Provincia Ariminum, or Gallia Togata (Toga-wearing Gaul, indicating the region’s early Romanization). Gallia Transpadana denoted that part of Cisalpine Gaul between the Padus (now the Po River) and the Alps, while Gallia Cispadana was the part to the south of the river.
Probably officially established around 81 BC, the province was governed from Mutina. Here, in 73 BC, forces under Spartacus defeated the Legio of Provincial Governor Gaius Cassius Longinus.
The Rubicon River marked its southern boundary with Italia proper. In 49 BC, with the Lex Roscia, Julius Caesar granted to the populations of the province the full Roman citizenship.
By crossing the Rubicon in 49 BC with his battle-hardened legions, returning from the conquest of Gaul, Julius Caesar precipitated the civil war within the Roman Republic which led, eventually, to the establishment of the Roman Empire. To this day the term “crossing the Rubicon” means, figuratively, “reaching the point of no return”.
The province was merged into Italia about 42 BC, as part of Octavian’s “Italicization” program during the Second Triumvirate. The dissolution of the provincial required a new governing law (lex) although its contemporary title is unknown.
The parts of it inscribed on a bronze tablet preserved in the museum at Parma are entirely concerned with arranging the judiciary. The law appoints 2 viri (men) and 4 viri juri dicundo (awarding of contracts), and also mentions a Prefect of Mutina.
The population of Canegrate maintained its own homogeneity for a limited period of time, approximately a century, after which they blended with the Ligurian aboriginal populations to create a new culture called the Golasecca culture.
The Golasecca culture was initially concentrated in the foothills area south of the Alps. It later spread throughout the lakes area and established many settlements representing this original culture, of which the oldest remains found thus far can be dated from the 9th Century BC.
There is some debate whether the Lepontic language should be considered as a Gaulish dialect or an independent branch within Continental Celtic. Apart from Lepontic, the “Cisalpine Gaulish language” proper would be the Gaulish language as spoken by the Gauls invading northern Italy in the 4th Century BC. This is a dialect of the larger Gaulish language, with some known phonetic features distinguishing it from Transalpine dialects, such as -nn- replacing -nd- and s(s) replacing -χs-.
We hope you enjoyed today’s travels and look forward to having you back again soon. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for special additions.
Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!
Baldi, Philip. The Foundations of Latin. Walter de Gruyter, 2002.
Boardman, John. The Cambridge ancient history: Persia, Greece and the Western Mediterranean c. 525-479 BC. Cambridge University Press, 1988.
Consider what kind of men they are at table, in bed, and so forth: and particularly, under what compulsions in respect of opinions they are; and as to their acts, consider with what pride they do what they do.
From these earliest times Gateshead had been at the head of an important road (or gate) from the south that terminated at the Tyne. This would suggest the name of the place is a reference to its location at the head of the gate.
Gateshead and Newcastle are joined by 7 bridges across the Tyne, including the Gateshead Millennium Bridge. There has been a settlement on the Gateshead side of the River Tyne, around the old river crossing where the Swing Bridge now stands, since Roman times.
Pottery and traces of tenements have been found which existed before Pons Aelius came into being. The first recorded mention of Gateshead is in the writings of the Venerable Bede who referred to an Abbot of Gateshead called Utta in 623.
The Roman fort of Pons Aelius at Newcastle upon Tyne protected a bridge across the Tyne which stood where the Swing Bridge crosses the Tyne today. There is no evidence for a fort on the Gateshead bank but excavations have revealed that there was a small Roman-British civilian settlement in Bottle Bank where Gateshead’s Hilton Hotel stands today.
Although there is no evidence, it would seem a reasonable possibility that there was some Roman defensive structure or small fort guarding the southern side of the Roman. If there was such a fort or even a small defensive site, the most likely setting would be the site now occupied by the old Gateshead parish church of St Mary on a high spot close to the edge of the Tyne.
There is one known Roman fort within the Borough of Gateshead. Known as Washingwell Fort, its actual Roman name is unknown, was discovered in 1970 from aerial photograph of crop marks revealed a Roman fort south of Washingwell Farm between Dunston Hill and Whickham.
The nearby village of Street Gate at Sunniside between Whickham Fell and Blackburn Fell recalls a Roman road connected with this fort. It probably linked Gateshead’s Cade’s Road to the north’s premier Roman highway of Dere Street at Leadgate and may have followed the course of Lobley Hill Road.
From the Roman site of Old Durham, the Old Durham Road followed the course of Cade’s Road. This Roman road ran from the fort at Chester-le-Street (Concangis) to Newcastle (Pons Aelius).
Gateshead’s Roman road may have partly followed the course of the modern Gateshead High Street. It then crossed the Tyne by means of a Roman bridge upon which some say there was inscribed the emblem of a goat’s head.
The Roman bridge was located where the present Swing Bridge stands today. At Wrekenton, Cade’s Road was joined by another Roman road called the Wrekendyke which headed out in a north easterly direction to the Roman fort and supply-port of Arbeia at South Shields.
There is, however, an alternative suggestion that Gateshead means Goats Head, a headland frequented by wild goats. This is supported in the 7th Century writing of the Venerable Bede who described Gateshead under the Latin name of Ad Caprae Caput (Goat’s Head).
Perhaps Gateshead was a headland frequented by wild goats or the site of a totem or emblem with a goat’s head overlooking the Tyne Bridge. Bede referred to Ad Caprae Caput as the site of a monastery belonging in 653 AD to an abbot called Utta, a renowned priest who Bede described as a ‘truthful and serious man’.
We know little about Utta or his monastery but Bede said that Utta’s brother Adda had played a part in converting the people of Mercia (the Kingdom situated in what later became the English Midlands) to Christianity.
Gateshead had the potential to rival Newcastle for as a port it shared a similar riverside setting. However, Newcastle’s wealthy merchants continuously tried to restrict trade on the south side of the river and Newcastle made several attempts to annex Gateshead so that it belonged to Newcastle.
The constant efforts to annex Gateshead usually failed as on each occasion the king ultimately came out in support of the Bishops of Durham. In March 1553, John Dudley Duke of Northumberland finally annexed the town of Gateshead to Newcastle, but the annexation only lasted a few months with Gateshead returning to Durham following the accession of Queen Mary to the throne.
We hope you enjoyed today’s journey and look forward to having you back for further adventures real soon.
Staying on that theme, today we present to you a cartoon film from 1967 entitled Asterix the Gaul!
In the year 50 BC Gaul is occupied by the Romans – nearly. But the small village, Armorica, of Asterix and his friends still resists the Roman Legions.
With the aid of their druid’s magic potion, which gives superhuman strength, these Gauls duke it out with the Romans. Learning of this potion, a Roman Centurion kidnaps the druid to get the secret formula out of him.
We hope you enjoyed today’s throwback adventure. If you haven’t yet done so be sure to check us out on Facebook and Twitter.