Roman Exploration – Piercebridge Roman Fort, County Durham

One more Roman blog from the North. Piercebridge (NZ209157) is a place I have driven through many times – it is a useful diversion that cuts a few miles off when driving from the A1 to Hexham. The road follows the Dere Street, the Roman road that ran from York to Corbridge. There was a bridge here over the Tees – indeed there are remains of the bridge (to be precise, the second bridge) in a field south of the river. The first bridge (probably of timber) is a little downstream of the current bridge, the second (below) was of stone, about 180 metres downstream from its predecessor. It would probably have been about 123 metres long. One day I will park and walk along to this one.

piercebridge-reconstructionToday I approached from the north, where there is a sign for the Roman fort. There are excellent plans at the English Heritage website. They assume that there must have been a C1 or C2 fort here, but it has not been found. What has been found is a C3 fort. We know that a large fort to house auxiliary troops was built around AD 260 and occupied until the end of the Roman period.

DSC03004Most of the fort lies below the village buildings, but excavations in the 1970s, concentrated near the east gate, and the garrisons commanders house, the NE corner of the fort, and the latrine has been found, as well as some of the buildings of the civilian settlement outside the east gate.  I had an interesting poke around.

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The path took me right down to the river, then I returned along the road. Sadly St Mary’s church was locked – not surprising as it was quite late in the day.

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