Washingwells Roman fort, Whickham


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018645

Date first listed: 09-Jun-1971

Date of most recent amendment: 02-Dec-1998


Ordnance survey map of Washingwells Roman fort, Whickham
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Gateshead (Metropolitan Authority)

National Grid Reference: NZ 21879 60250


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Roman forts served as permanent bases for auxiliary units of the Roman Army. In outline they were straight sided rectangular enclosures with rounded corners, defined by a single rampart of turf, puddled clay or earth with one or more outer ditches. Some forts had separately defended, subsidiary enclosures or annexes, allowing additional storage space or for the accommodation of troops and convoys in transit. Although built and used throughout the Roman period, the majority of forts were constructed between the mid first and mid second centuries AD. Some were only used for short periods of time but others were occupied for extended periods on a more or less permanent basis. In the earlier forts, timber was used for gateways, towers and breastworks. From the beginning of the second century AD there was a gradual replacement of timber with stone. Roman forts are rare nationally and are extremely rare south of the Severn Trent line. As one of a small group of Roman military monuments, which are important in representing army strategy and therefore government policy, forts are of particular significance to our understanding of the period. All Roman forts with surviving archaeological potential are considered to be nationally important.

Despite the lack of upstanding remains, Washingwells Roman fort is clearly visible on aerial photographs and the site will retain significant buried archaeological remains. Its location is unusual, and it is believed to date from the initial Roman conquest of the region, and to have been used as an outpost of the late first century Stanegate frontier line.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes the Roman fort known as Washingwells, which is situated 200m south of Washingwells Farm. It occupies a spur overlooking the Team Valley. The spur is bounded by steep slopes to its south and west, a gentle slope to the east and level ground to the north west. The fort is identified from aerial photographs. It has three distinct ditch systems. The innermost ditch is the most complete, forming a south eastern facing polygonal enclosing 1.88ha. This ditch has three gateways identified from the aerial photgraphs; a fourth gateway on the south east side will exist opposite the north east gateway. The north east gateway has four post-pits indicating a timber gateway, 7.5m wide, sufficient for two portals. The middle ditch system is believed to be contemporary with the inner ditch system. It has been identified on the north west and north east sides. The outer ditch system has been identified on the north west and south east sides as a broad ditch, 8.75m wide. On the north east side, it is apparent as a faint, narrow cropmark. In the southern angle of the fort are a series of four sunken ways of uncertain date running parallel to the present footpath.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 32057

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Holbrook, N, Speak, S, 'The Arbeia Journal' in Washingwells Roman Fort, , Vol. 3, (1994), 33-45
A/069599/4, A/069599/8, McCord, N, Washingwells Roman fort, (1970)

End of official listing