Work nearing end on restoring historic Roman Bath House

Conservation work on creating new features at a popular visitor attraction is set to be completed this month.

Thursday, 21st July 2016, 12:20 pm
Updated Thursday, 21st July 2016, 1:24 pm
Team Restoration at work on Hadrians Wall at Segedunum with Brendan Teasdale (front). Picture by Ian McClelland.

Work has been taking place on uncovering a Roman Bath House and a section of Hadrian’s Wall at Segedunum Roman Fort in Wallsend.

The bath house was buried under The Ship pub in Wallsend and its remains only discovered in 2014 after being demolished a year earlier.

Previously only replica baths were available to see at Segedunum, but now thanks to Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums and expert renovation work by Blyth-based Team Force Restoration, visitors can see the remains of the real baths.

Managing director Brendan Teasdale and his team have been working since April to painstakingly prepare the authentic Roman remains for the public to see, making the ancient Roman walls safe and conserving the historic features.

Brendan said: “This is a highly significant archaeological discovery and Team Force Restoration was delighted to be the conservation firm chosen to carry out this very important work.

“Our restoration work has firstly involved the consolidation of this rediscovered area of Hadrian’s Wall, particularly the wall face and the wall top, using special clay-based mortars, which were developed by Team Force Restoration for Hadrian’s Wall.

“These specially formulated clay-based mortars have a weak crushing strength and are totally reversible, which is ideal where ground conditions are wet and difficult. Drainage systems were also installed.

“At the Roman Bath House, the stone was quite fragile so we used lime mortars here. Using lime mortar for conservation to historic structures ensures that the ancient stone work can breathe and helps to ensure its long-term survival.

“Most of the original footings and low level walls are now restored and intact.

“You can also see original stone bedded in place with original Roman lime mortar.

“We also installed gabions, footpaths, a new barrier fence and arranged landscaping.”

This first phase of new developments at Segedunum Roman Fort, which includes this preservation and interpretation of the rediscovered Roman bath house foundations, and the conservation and display of a further 50m of Hadrian’s Wall, is now open to visitors.

Other improvements include direct access to the Hadrian’s Wall National Trail from the museum. There is also a viewing platform for the bath house foundations, a picnic area and landscaping to the site.

The work has been funded by a £500,000 Government grant.

Bathing was one of the key features of Roman civilisation and every fort on Hadrian’s Wall had its baths.