- Visit Arbeia Roman Fort, in South Tyneside, to see the latest excavations at this fascinating archaeological site.
- Check out the best-preserved ring mail suit in Britain and enjoy live-action events throughout the summer and children's activities during school holidays.
- Climb the reconstructed West Gate for a bird's-eye view over the site and explore other fantastic reconstructions, all rebuilt where they once stood.
- See authentic furniture and frescoes in the Commander's Villa and marvel at fascinating discoveries in the museum.
- Visit the Barrack Block, head to a storytelling event or even watch a gladiator battle reenactment.
This partially-reconstructed Roman fortress at the entrance of the River Tyne used to guard the most important sea route to Hadrian’s Wall. Arbeia is one of the best reconstructions of a Roman fort that exists in Britain today, offering visitors a unique, fascinating insight into the every day life of a soldier in the Roman army, from in the barrack room, to the commander in their luxurious house. Arbeia Roman Fort was home to a garrison and guarded the entrance to the River Tyne, so it was a significant site, rich in history, with lots for your little ones and older ones to uncover at one of the best historical sites attractions in England.
Arbeia is the Roman name for what we now call South Shields. This Newcastle Roman fort has a history as both a vital fortress and a military base, providing military supplies to 17 forts along Hadrian's Wall. Not only did the fort guard the entrance to the Tyne in Roman times, but it also protected a small port at the river's mouth.
Interestingly, Fort Arbeia, South Shields, has had many different appearances throughout the course of its historical past. It was originally the Roman Emperor's headquarters for the Scottish invasion, and has since been many things, including a busy trading port. There are thrilling stories of murder and drama that live in these walls, along with drastic fires, and of course, some love stories, all of which can be uncovered during a visit. History buffs will love learning how this was a huge supply base for the Roman army, and home to around 600 Roman troops in Britain. It was even said to be the birth place of Oswin, the Northumbrian king. Along with these impressive stories, the Arbeia Roman Fort and museum is also a UNESCO World Heritage site, having some of the most exquisite reconstructions on a larger scale in the country, regularly showcasing archaeological finds from the Roman times.
If you're looking for things to do near Newcastle, then get historical at this Roman Fort in Tyne and Wear. Check out Arbeia's Time Quest attraction, which is always a hit with the kids, transporting them back in time. Here they can dig for very nearly-real historic finds, learning how archaeologists uncover fascinating stories, unravelling the mysteries of the past and more. For more artistic and cultural exchanges, check out Laing Art Gallery for the best roundup of local and internationally acclaimed art, along with a dedicated creative play space and regular family events.
Climb the reconstructed West Gate for a blast of a time, and stand at the top, feeling like a brave solider. The imposing West Gate is not only impressive, but one of the first things you'll see as you walk up to Arbeia. This iconic structure has been reconstructed using clever research following excavations at Arbeia by archaeologists. It stands exactly where the original buildings existed during the Roman occupation of Britain. This is a great historical, immersive experience, and as you make your way to the top of the Gate you'll experience what it was like to be on duty guarding the entrance to the River Tyne.
Don't miss out on summertime at Arbeia, when it hosts some magnificent events, with Roman reenactments, activities and live music, keeping both the kids and adults of all ages occupied and entertained. There are plenty of games to enjoy, and you can even dress up in your favourite Roman attire! Pretend to be a mighty emperor as you get creative. There are activities you can start at the Fort and finish at home too. These thrilling activities will immerse you and your family into Roman Britain. For more Tyne Wear museums, check out the Discovery Museum to learn about the city's history and scientific endeavours and achievements, along with regular events, fun activities and more.
What to know before you go
- Arbeia Roman Fort opening times are 10am to 5pm in the summer season of March to September, Saturdays 11am to 4pm, Sundays 1pm to 4pm, then 10am to 2.30pm the rest of the year.
- When you're feeling peckish, there is a wonderful picnic site, plus the Victorian Pantry cafe opens during the school break and summer holidays. You can buy snacks, refreshments and enjoy these in the seating areas that are both outdoor and indoor.
- There are toilets, accessible toilets but no baby-changing facilities.
- There are ramps around and wheelchairs available for use, as this is a historical site, some paths are harder to navigate.
- Dogs are welcome on site for a visit.
- Arbeia Roman Fort is located on Baring Street in South Shields.
- If travelling by public transport, Arbeia is reached from South Shields town centre, which you can get to via train.
- From the town centre it's around a 15-minute walk to Arbeia Fort. Head towards the seafront along Ocean Road until the intersection of Ocean Road and Baring Street. From here you need to turn left and then you'll find the fort.
- If travelling via car, take the A19 to South Shields town centre and follow the brown road signs with a Roman helmet on. Once in South Shields, there are signs you can follow, or just stick to the A183.
- Street parking is available but bear in mind it can get busy around school run times, as the fort is opposite a primary school.