Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Second Day at Fort Arbeia

Heather & Diane at the dig
Today was our second day digging at Fort Arbeia. Yesterday we dug as well but we really didn't get started until 1:30. When we first arrived on Monday we had an orientation and tour. The Arbeia site has been excavated by archaeologists since 1875, so there's lots to see. I learned that a typical Roman fortress consisted of four gates, walls, barracks, the principia, (headquarters with vault), religious shrines, and granaries. Arbeia is unique because for certain periods it was used principally for grain storage. At one time there were 24 granaries.

Romans typically built their forts near rivers, and Arbeia is situated at the entrance of the River Tyne. This gave the Romans the ability to transport goods all along the Northern frontier of the Roman occupation, or along Hadrian's Wall.

Fort Arbeia has several reconstructed buildings, such as the West Gate, the soldiers' barracks, the centurion's quarters, a latrine for the foot soldiers, and the commander's house. We toured all these on Monday.

Yesterday soon after we began digging a little girl local volunteer found a coin from 350 AD.

It had an the Emperor Constantine on one side and wheat sheaves on the other. It was quite amazing to see. Another volunteer found the tip of a bone needle, and someone
found a small buckle from a horse's bridle, and a hairpin.

Today was a less exciting day, but I felt more comfortable. We did not find anything of import but I found a piece of an amphora. Interestingly I had just watched a program about these common Roman vessels- frequently used to carry wine or olive oil- on a tv program just before I left for England.

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