Ancient Monuments

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Washingwells Roman fort, Whickham

A Scheduled Monument in Dunston Hill and Whickham East, Gateshead

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Latitude: 54.9363 / 54°56'10"N

Longitude: -1.66 / 1°39'35"W

OS Eastings: 421882.667874

OS Northings: 560236.454314

OS Grid: NZ218602

Mapcode National: GBR JCVC.D8

Mapcode Global: WHC3X.G6R2

Entry Name: Washingwells Roman fort, Whickham

Scheduled Date: 9 June 1971

Last Amended: 2 December 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018645

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32057

County: Gateshead

Electoral Ward/Division: Dunston Hill and Whickham East

Built-Up Area: Whickham

Traditional County: Durham

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Tyne and Wear

Church of England Parish: Whickham

Church of England Diocese: Durham


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
In the southern angle of the fort are a series of four sunken ways of
uncertain date running parallel to the present footpath.

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.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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

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.

Source: Historic England


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)

Source: Historic England

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