Fort Arbeia and the Roman Empire in Britain

Two millennia ago, the Roman Empire stretched all the way to northern England, which the Romans considered the very edge of civilization—and perhaps the world. Arbeia, the Roman fort overlooking the river and harbour from Lawe Top, became part of one of the largest and busiest supply depots in the northern Roman Empire, as it was less than four miles from Hadrian’s Wall, which the Empire built to mark its northern boundary and protect its settlements from the region’s native inhabitants such as the Brigantes and Picts.

Earthwatch volunteers can discover how these cultures adapted to each other to coexist. The answers have intriguing parallels throughout world history and may hold important lessons for today’s cultures in contact—and sometimes conflict—with each other. You can help a seasoned team of archaeologists, led by Paul Bidwell, Dr Nick Hodgson, Graeme Stobbs and Alex Croom (all with the Tyne and Wear Museums), excavate Arbeia and its environs to better understand how ancient Romans and Europeans came into contact with each other—and were forever changed by the experience.

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What to Expect?

This extraordinary permanent large-scale excavation site is in a quiet residential area close to the River Tyne and the North Sea. South Shields Roman Fort is the site of a roman military and civilian settlement and lies within the UNESCO Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site. For more than a decade, Earthwatch teams have helped map more than 1,000 square meters of pre-Roman and Roman settlement here, excavating jewellery, armour, game pieces, and ceramics.

You’ll work in small groups, rotating among many tasks, including stratigraphic excavation using a trowel or possibly more robust digging equipment, recording site data, site surveying, and sampling, cleaning, and processing finds. When you're not digging into the social changes of the Roman era and other historical ages, your recreational time can be spent along the most impressive stretches of Hadrian's Wall, enjoying local Geordie culture in South Shields, or in the historic cities of Newcastle, York, Durham, and Edinburgh—all just a few hours travel from the field site.

  • Program ID: # 1705
  • duration:
    1 to 2 Weeks
  • location:
    South Shields, England, UK South Shields
    United Kingdom
    54° 59' 31.2" N, 1° 25' 44.4" W
  • Fitness level:
    Moderately Fit
  • Closest Airport:
    Please contact program
  • Costs From:
    $500 to $1000
    $1000 to $1500
    $1500 to $3000
  • Program Type:
    Environmental & Wildlife Programs
    Learn Abroad
  • Click Here for More Info

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