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SOUTH SHIELDS ROMAN FORT

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  ARBEIA ROMAN FORT
DESCRIPTION + /

The site of the Roman fort was first occupied by a Middle Iron Age round house, this was overlain by late Iron Age plough marks. There may have been a fort near the known site from the Flavian period, though this is only conjectural. The visible stone fort was built circa AD 163, though there appears to have been reduced occupation in the late 2nd century. Around AD 205-7 the fort was extended and converted into a supply base; the principia was also rebuilt and a dividing wall separates the base. The garrison is the Fifth Cohort of Gauls. From AD 222-35 the dividing wall was demolished, the supply base enlarged, and a new principia built on a different site. In the late 3rd/early 4th century AD the fort was destroyed by fire; a new principia was built, some of the granaries were converted into barracks, and a new courtyard house was built, the garrison was the Numerus of Tigris Bargemen. From the mid-4th century AD there are widespread minor alterations, the fort's supply base function may have ended and a church may have been built in the forecourt of the principia, this is indicated by the discovery of a table altar. In the post-Roman period the southwest gate was isolated after circa AD 400 with a ditch, then restored to use when a wooden arch was inserted into the gateway. Occupation appears to have continued into the fifth century AD, though the removal of the upper stratigraphy by ploughing and Victorian archaeologists makes any definite interpretation impossible. The fort may have been recorded in Anglo-Saxon records as Caer Urfa and been a royal residence, though how much Roman fabric survived is debateable. A gate and part of the wall have now been rebuilt.

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