Masada: Roman siegeworks

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Masada, Camp F © David Gill

The remains of the Roman siegeworks of Masada have been preserved in the desert. The main fort was located on the western side of Masada, opposite the northern palace. One of the roles was to provide a location of troops close to the siege ramp that was being constructed.

The siege wall can be seen in front of the fort heading for the edge of the wadi.

One of the current issues facing the forts is that increased visitor numbers threaten their preservation.

Reference
Gwyn Davies. “Under Siege: The Roman Field Works at Masada.” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, no. 362, 2011, pp. 65–83. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.5615/bullamerschoorie.362.0065.

Walking Hadrian’s Wall

14th edition (2006)

What would be the best guide to Hadrian’s Wall? The 14th edition of J. Collingwood Bruce’s Handbook to the Roman Wall (by David J. Breeze) would have to be high on the list. It is published by the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne (website). At 512 pages it contains the detail that is needed to make sense of each feature of the complex frontier system.

The volume contains a chapter on the forts along the Cumbrian Coast (chapter 4, pp. 373-414) as well as the Stanegate (chapter 5, pp. 415-470).

Handbook to the Antonine Wall

Antonine Wall

(1973)

Anne S. Robertson published The Antonine Wall: A Handbook to the Roman Wall Between Forth and Clyde and a Guide to its Surviving Remains for the Glasgow Archaeological Society. My copy is a revised 4th edition (1973 [1970] though the Handbook was first published in 1970.

The guide contains a substantial essay on the Antonine Wall along with maps of Roman Scotland (7-41). The rest of the handbook takes the visitor from east to west, from Bridgeness to Old Kilpatrick. There are plans of the forts included at relevant points.

There is a short bibliography for the wall, and then bibliographies for each of the forts. A foldout map helps the visitor. Details of the main museums holding material from the Antonine Wall are provided, and then a list of ‘The most impressive features on the line of the Antonine Wall’.

This forms a companion to the very brief DOE Guide to the Antonine Wall.

Robertson’s handbook sits alongside Collingwood Bruce’s Handbook to the Roman Wall covering Hadrian’s Wall.

Hadrian’s Wall from the Air

HW_air_oldOne of my treasured possessions is Barri Jones’s Hadrian’s Wall from the Air (Archaeological Surveys Ltd. 1976; 65p). The cover shows Cawfields Crag and hints at the damage sustained to the wall by the development of a quarry. There is a short introduction, followed by a series of black and white aerial shots with a short commentary. The first image is of the Roman fort at South Shields, and the last the fort at Burnswark with the Roman siege works.

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The booklet has been updated and revised by David Wooliscroft (Tempus Publishing, 2001; The History Press, 2009). Jones had started to revise his work in the 1990s.

Some of the major changes at sites are clear between the two volumes. Take for example the outline of the fort at Segedunum (p. 5), with the rows of housing, with the clearly defined plan (col. pl. 15). Or compare milecastles 37 and 39 in the two volumes (pp. 16-17; col. pls. 24 and 25).

Saxon Shore: Heritage Lecture

Professor David Gill at 2014 UCS Heritage Lecture © Caroline Gill

Professor David Gill at 2014 UCS Heritage Lecture
© Caroline Gill

I was greatly encouraged by the packed lecture theatre for the first of two UCS Heritage Lectures for the 2014 Ipswich Heritage Fortnight. We explored the development of the ‘Saxon Shore’ fort system and members of the audience shared their knowledge of what was visible of Walton Castle (near Felixstowe) at very low tides. We also considered how a number of the ‘Saxon Shore’ forts (Burgh Castle, Caister-on-Sea, Bradwell, Reculver, Richborough and possibly Walton Castle) were reused in the 7th century as monastic sites.

The lecture concluded with a suggestion that a Late Roman / Anglo-Saxon trail could be developed from Brancaster to the Blackwater, taking in a number of key sites including North Elmham, Bury St Edmunds, West Stow, Burgh Castle, Sutton Hoo, and Iken.

Rome’s Frontier Begins Here

Segedunum

Segedunum Roman Fort

How do you engage with archaeological heritage in a post-industrial setting? Hadrian’s Wall must rank as one of the premier Roman sites in the UK but the east end lies under Wallsend. The Segedunum project has this fantastic viewing tower overlooking the site with a banner that reads, ‘Where Rome’s great frontier begins’. This, of course, is not just Walls-end but Walls-beginning, especially for those walking from the Tyne to the Solway Firth. The tower itself reminds us of the shipbuilding heritage of the Tyne with clear views up and down the river, explaining the strategic location of the fort.