WallQuest: Hadrian’s Wall and its legacy on Tyneside is a community archaeology project to find out about the easternmost 30 miles of Hadrian’s Wall between South Shields and Hexham/Corbridge. In this area the Wall is often invisible but many local people are proud of it and fascinated by it. The project gives them the chance to get involved in research and excavation in various different places along the Wall. Absolutely anybody can join in.

WallQuest is a three-year project to run from 2012-15, led by Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and other funders.

Project Objectives

  • Improve the understanding and interpretation of the eastern sector of Hadrian’s Wall

  • Involve local individuals and groups in Tyneside, including those who would not typically participate in heritage-based projects, in bringing about this improvement

  • Support individuals and groups in Tyneside to play a leading role in the project

  • Foster public support for preservation and understanding of Hadrian’s wall

  • Increase enjoyment and awareness of the Roman heritage and how it has shaped the Tyneside of today

The community archaeology activities will not take place in just one locality, but in several places along the eastern 30 miles of Hadrian’s Wall. There will also be opportunities to help with indoor research into documents and finds as well as participating in excavations and surveys.

The following projects have been planned:

1. Roman Wallsend and the line of the Wall between Wallsend and Newcastle (east end of Newcastle upon Tyne): Participants will be involved in researching antiquarian records and unpublished previous observations of the Wall, as well as researching the later history of the area. Geophysical surveys and trial excavations will be carried out in open areas west of the fort of Segedunum to deepen our understanding of the civilian settlement outside the fort and the course of the Wall as it runs to Newcastle.

2. Hadrian’s Wall in Central Newcastle and Roman Gateshead: There are opportunities for further research on artefacts from recent excavations in Gateshead, and a study of the Roman bridge across the Tyne and its medieval successor will try to find oout more about the original appearcne and location of the Roman bridge that gave ‘Pons Aelius’ its name. Participants will help try to trace the line of the Wall-ditch where it is lost in central Newcastle and to locate buried evidence for the Roman bridge.

3. The remains of the Roman Fort of Condercum in Benwell (west end of Newcastle upon Tyne): Many of the artefacts and records from the excavations in the 1920s and 1930s are unknown or unpublished. Participants will be involved in researching these artefacts and records to enhance their interpretation as well as researching the later history of the site. Geophysical surveys and trial excavations will be carried out in open areas lying within the civilian settlement outside the fort to deepen our understanding of the site.

4. Archaeology at Arbeia Roman Fort, South Shields: Excavation is planned in an area of the fort ditches and vicus (civilian settlement) at Arbeia. The project will open up the excavation programme to participants from the local community, and provide opportunities for participants to work with artefacts and learn how to analyse excavation records.

5. Chesters to Corbridge - a Lost Roman Road: The course of this road (the Stanegate) between these two important Roman sites is currently unknown. Field survey, geophysics and documentary research will be carried out to suggest a line for it which will be tested by limited trial excavations.

6. A survey of Roman stone architectural fragments in Tynedale churches and other buildings. This will be the first systematic record of these fragments and will deepen understanding of how the legacy of Hadrian’s Wall was exploited in post-Roman centuries.

We want to hear from the local communities themselves about the things they would like to find out about the Wall and the sort of research activities that will interest them most. The idea is that the project is led by the participants themselves, not just by the professional archaeologists.