Notes: Located in Corbridge the site is well sign-posted and has a dedicated car park.
WHAT IS THERE TO SEE?
Extensive remains of a major Roman settlement that served the Roman military forces garrisoning the northern frontier. The paving of Stanegate Road is visible as are the foundations of numerous buildings. Small but interesting museum is also on the site.
1. Corbridge was re-occupied by the Saxons in the seventh century and took its name from the existence of the Roman Army bridge which was presumably still standing.
2. The forts and town were located on Dere Street - the road that ran from York northwards into Scotland. The Stanegate Road also started here and travelled west to Vindolanda, onto Carlisle and possibly beyond to Bowness-on-Solway.
3. Aside from Corbirdge the other major town in the frontier zone was Carlisle.
Originally a key garrison fort protecting the intersection between Dere Street and the River Tyne, Corbridge was transformed into a major supply depot by the construction of Hadrian’s Wall. One of just two major towns in the frontier zone it was probably the preferred leave destination for troops garrisoning the Wall.
HISTORY OF CORBRIDGE ROMAN TOWN
The Roman Army arrived in northern England in the late AD 70s with the broad line of their advance travelling through Corbridge. A fort was established at this time around half a mile from the 'current' site but it had a short life, perhaps due to flooding, and by AD 85 a new fort had been established at Corbridge (known to the Romans as Corstopitum). Nevertheless the role remained the same - to protect and control the vital crossing over the River Tyne. This changed with the construction of Hadrian's Wall circa AD 122. Corbridge was re-rolled into a supply base and this function only increased when Roman forces advanced north to create the Antonine Wall on the Clyde/Forth isthmus in AD 139. Located on Dere Street, the main road into southern Scotland, Corbridge was expanded with additional granaries.
By AD 160 the frontier had returned south to the Hadrianic frontier. Some evidence suggests vexillations from both the Sixth Legion (Legio VI Victrix), who were based in York, and the Twentieth Legion (Legio XX Valeria Victrix), who were based in Chester, were employed from Corbridge. It is possible they deployed from here to main frontier forts north of the Wall. However, whilst Corbridge continued as a supply base for the wall, it also evolved into a key market town for the frontier zone. Warehouses, granaries and additional accommodation burst out of the defensive zone within the fort expanding the site considerably. Whether this was a wise decision or not is uncertain; Corbridge was largely destroyed by fire around AD 185 and whilst this could have been accidental, it might have been associated with attacks from the north that nearly overran the military zone in the period.
In the early third century Corbridge again acted as a supply base for operations against Scotland. Between AD 208 and 211 Emperor Septimius Severus mounted a campaign north of the wall and used Corbridge to sustain vexillations from the Second Augustan Legion (Legio II Augusta), who were at this time based at Caerleon, as well as soldiers from the Sixth and Twentieth Legions. The associated town continued to grow at this time and seems to have been occupied as late as AD 370. Thereafter though the withdrawal of Roman forces seems to have led to the rapid decline and abandonment of Corbridge.