The Romans built and rebuilt their fort at Corstopitum over several centuries, and the current fort is the fourth version. It was built about AD140 as a jumping-off point for the pacification of Caledonia. That turned out not to be one of the Empire’s brighter ideas, but Corstopitum continued to be an important military base long after the Romans finally gave up on conquering the north at the end of the second century. It changed from a purely military base into a thriving mercantile community – the most northerly in the Roman Empire. Much of that settlement is still buried, though its stones are found in many Corbridge and Hexham buildings. The big granaries, with their stone-slabbed floors and walls, give you an idea of the immense logistics of feeding the legions which manned the wall, and the inscriptions and small personal objects – combs, buttons and bronze pins – remind you that the Roman soldiers and the civilians who lived here were people just like us. The square courtyard to the north of the main street (part of Stanegate) was never finished and no one is quite sure what it was. Opposite are the military compounds, where you can trace the workshops and officers’ houses before descending into the former strongroom to see where soldiers and locals worshipped both Roman and local gods. Pride of place in the museum at Corstopitum goes to the Corbridge Lion. A finely carved, spirited beast with a bushy mane, it is depicted attacking a stag. It is thought that the lion may have started its life on a tomb, but was later moved to ornament the great fountain in the town, parts of which can still be seen.
Facilities – at a glance
Assist dogs allowed
- Parking onsite
- Parking nearby
- Facilities: Wheelchair loan, Braille signage, torches, tour transcripts, 2 disabled parking spaces
- Accessible toilets
- Open all year
- Opening Times: Open all year, Apr-Sep, daily 10-6; Oct, daily 10-5; Nov-19 Feb & 25 Feb-Mar, Sat-Sun 10-4; 20-24 Feb, daily 10-4. Closed 24-26 Dec & 1 Jan
Also in the area
About the area
If it’s history you’re after, there’s heaps of it in Northumberland. On Hadrian’s Wall you can imagine scarlet-cloaked Roman legionaries keeping watch for painted Pictish warriors while cursing the English weather and dreaming of home. Desolate battlefield sites and hulking fortresses such as Alnwick, Dunstanburgh, Bamburgh and Warkworth are reminders that this, until not so very long ago, was a contested border region. The ruins of Lindisfarne bear witness to the region’s early Christian history.
Northumberland also has some of Britain’s best beaches. On summer days, and even in winter, you’ll see surfers and other brave souls making the most of the coast. Inland, there are some great walks and bike rides in the dales of the Cheviot Hills and the Simonsides – just hilly enough to be interesting, without being brutally steep. There's dramatic scenery in the High Pennines, where waterfalls plunge into deep valleys, and there are swathes of heather-scented moorland. Northumberland National Park covers over 400 square miles of moorland and valleys with clear streams and pretty, stone-built villages. It’s just the place for wildlife watching too. You’ll find flocks of puffins, guillemots and other seabirds around the Farne Islands, and seals and dolphins offshore.
Places to Stay
Restaurants and Pubs
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