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The Gatehouse.

Note the houses, on the aptly named Roman Road, visible through the gate.   

Situated a relatively short distance behind the Emperor Hadrian’s famous and the southern bank of the River Tyne, Arbeia was probably seen as one of the last stops before the Northern frontier of Roman Britain back in AD 122. I wonder if it was any comfort, to the garrison and those civilians who no doubt settled close by that the fort, that the fort is not only behind the artificial frontier represented by Hadrian’s Wall and the natural barrier of the Tyne? I remember reading a theory that the name Arbeia was coined by a company of Tigris Bargemen stationed at the fort around AD 300 and refers to the “Place of the Arabs” and was struck by how small the known world was at that point. To think that Roman auxiliaries, raised on the banks of the Tigris [in what is currently Iraq] ended up stationed in Roman Britain.

The ruins and the reconstructed barracks and Commanding Officer's quarter viewed from the gatehouse.

The ruins and the reconstructed barracks and Commanding Officer’s quarter viewed from the gatehouse.

The fort served as a logistics base or supply depot for the other frontier forts, such as Segedunum Roman Fort on the other side of the River Tyne at Wallsend, so I imagine there was a lot of tedious admin, combined with back breaking labour, taking place at Arbeia. Presumably the Roman auxiliaries, especially in the case of the Tigris Boatmen, would have also handled the probably quite tricky business of getting supplies from one side of the Tyne to the other. A squadron of the First Astrurian Cavalry, a unit originally raised in Spain, were stationed at the fort, so there would have been a certain amount of dashing around the surrounding area on horseback. The fort must have been a very different place during their tour of duty, with the sights, sounds and smells associated with the care and stabling of horses being ever present within the walls of Arbeia.

You can find out more about the fort here: http://www.visithadrianswall.co.uk/things-to-do/arbeia-roman-fort-and-museum-p715761

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