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Arbeia Roman Fort

South Shields, Durham

Arbeia is the remains of a large Roman fort in South Shields. It was first excavated in the 1870s  and the buildings you see today are a reconstruction. It stands overlooking the River Tyne.

"Arbeia" means "fort of the Arab troops", referring to the fact that part of its garrison at one time was a squadron of Syrian boatmen from the Tigris.  It was common for forts to be manned by units originally from elsewhere in the empire, though often they would end up recruiting locally as well. It is believed to have been built around 160 AD and once guarded the entrance to the River Tyne. Originally built as a garrison it soon became a supply fort for the 17 forts along Hadrian's Wall containing the only permanent stone-built granaries found to date in Britain, and was occupied until the Romans left in the 5th century.

Richard Howell

There are two monuments on site which commemorate slaves that are believed to have been on site during the Roman period. The first is for Regina, originally a slave but then became the wife of Barates, a Syrian merchant - she died at the age of 30. The second is for Victor who was freed by Numerianus of the First Asturian cavalry and died at the age of 20 - his stone records that he was 'of the Moorish nation'.

The buildings which have been reconstructed on their original foundations represent a:

Roman Gatehouse - (West Gate) includes models of the fort and Roman armoury.

R J McNaughton

Commanding Officers House - representing the 4th century and has been fitted out with authentic furniture and fresco paintings. The Roman rooms you can enter include a summer dining room, the Commanding Officers bedroom and the porters lodge.

Barrack block - built using traditional building techniques of the 3rd century. There are a number of rooms to view and try to recreate for the visitor what it must have been like for the Roman soldiers to live there includes such items as beds and equipment they would have used. Also within this building is details on the methods used to reconstruct the building.

There is also a museum which holds artefacts of the Roman period, found on site. There are two displays one showing The Life of a Roman Soldier and features objects like tools, armour, weapons, household objects, jewellery, kitchen utensils etc. Whereas the other gallery looks at how the Romans dealt with Death and Burial, including tombstones and inscribed alters.

The Roman Garden shows what herbs and plants were  used by the Romans for cooking, medicine and decoration. It to has a replica sundial and altar.

There is also a multi-sensory tour and a wet weather trail should you visit on a wet day. There are also various events and activities taking place throughout the summer season including a Time Quest, where for a small fee, 1.50 for adults and 1 for children in 2008, you can take part in a reconstructed 'Dig' site and have a go at excavating your own artefacts.

A Roman Ceiling 

Roman Wallpaper 


It is managed by Tyne and Wear Museums.

Further information Grid



Arbeia Roman Fort, South Shields, Tyne & Wear

Ceremonial County: Durham

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Map Link:


Aerial photo: Multimap Aerial Photo    Google Aerial Photo


Hadrian's Wall Route Guide

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Nearby Locations:  
Other Relevant pages: Roman Britain



Date Updated: 07/2008


Planning Grid


Arbeia Roman Fort, South Shields, Tyne & Wear

Grid Reference:


Getting there:

Arbeia Roman Fort is situated on Baring Street, in South Shields.


The approach to the main entrance is on a flat tarmac and concrete surface. There is a gentle slope up to the museum entrance and then a short steep ramp to the door. Entering the museum through a set of double glass swing doors. Alternatively there is a path to the side door of the museum with a flatter ramp. See this link for full access details.


Free car park nearby


Gift shop, picnic area, toilets

Things To Do, See and Photograph:


What to take:


Nature highlights:



Baring Street

South Shields


NE33 2BB


0191 456 1369

Opening times:

1st April-31 Oct Mon-Sat 10am-5.30pm and Sun 1pm-5pm

1 Nov-31 Mar Mon-Sat 10am-3.30pm and closed Sunday's

Closed 25 & 26 Dec and 1st Jan



Photo Restrictions:


Other Restrictions:  
Special Needs Access: Not fully accessible by wheelchairs, facilities for deaf and hard of hearing
Special Needs Facilities: Toilet
Children Facilities:  
Dogs Allowed: Assistance and Guide dogs only

CIN Page Ref:


Date Updated: 07/2008

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