Work is due to start on £500k museum project

(left to right): Coun Eddie Darke, cabinet member for leisure, culture and tourism; Dr Nick Hodgson, archaeology project manager; Geoff Woodward, museum manager; and Mayor Norma Redfearn. Picture by Simon Veit-Wilson.
(left to right): Coun Eddie Darke, cabinet member for leisure, culture and tourism; Dr Nick Hodgson, archaeology project manager; Geoff Woodward, museum manager; and Mayor Norma Redfearn. Picture by Simon Veit-Wilson.

Work is set to begin on a £500,000 scheme to improve an internationally renowned museum.

A series of developments and improvements are being made at Segedunum Roman Fort, in Wallsend.

This is fantastic news not just for our visitors, but the region and the overall understanding of Hadrian’s Wall.

Iain Watson, director of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

Among the initial work will be the preservation and interpretation of the rediscovered Roman bath house foundations, and the conservation and display of a further 50m of Hadrian’s Wall.

Other improvements will include creating direct access to the Hadrian’s Wall National Trail from the museum, a viewing platform for the bath house foundations and carrying out overall maintenance to the whole Roman fort foundations.

Work is expected to be completed by April 2016.

Iain Watson, director of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, said: “This is fantastic news not just for our visitors, but the region and the overall understanding of Hadrian’s Wall.

“To be able to incorporate the original bath house into the museum site, and preserve even more of the Wall itself, is incredible.

“We are really looking forward to presenting the new improved Segedunum to our visitors next year.”

Mayor Norma Redfearn said: “I’m delighted to hear about the exciting developments at Segedunum.

“Not only is it great news for the museum and its visitors, but it’s also great news for the people of Wallsend.

“There is a lot of work underway, some of which is already complete, to regenerate and reinvigorate Wallsend, and I know this work to improve a local museum will also be very well-received.”

Coun Eddie Darke, cabinet member for leisure, culture and tourism, added: “Segedunum Roman Fort is a much-loved museum, which welcomes visitors from around the world, and this latest work is sure to attract more people to the site.

“The project to incorporate the bath house and even more Hadrian’s Wall is fantastic, and it will help visitors to have a better insight into the history of Roman life in the borough.”

The excavation of the original Segedunum bath house was undertaken by the WallQuest community archaeology project, and has been the first sizable excavation of a bath house on Hadrian’s Wall since the 19C.

Nick Hodgson, WallQuest project leader and archaeologist at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, said: “The excavation and research of the WallQuest project at Segedunum lends several additions to current knowledge of the Wall.

“Evidence of Roman maintenance and structural adaptations spanning 100 years proves the upkeep of the both the bath house and the Wall.

“We’ll be able to share this new information with visitors through the new interpretation as part of the new developments.”

Already the most excavated site on Hadrian’s Wall, Segedunum features a reconstruction of a Roman bath house, a recreated stretch of Hadrian’s Wall and features an iconic 35m viewing tower with spectacular views across the site, river and city.

The foundations of Segedunum and existing 20m of Hadrian’s Wall have already provided archaeologists with the most authentic evidence of the monument, with the new information adding to this body of knowledge.

Previous significant discoveries at Segedunum have included conclusive proof that Roman cavalry shared accommodation blocks with their horses, as this question had stumped archaeologists for more than 100 years.

Excavations at Segedunum provided increased knowledge of the Roman army providing a great leap forward in the current understanding of the internal layouts of auxiliary forts.