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Birdoswald stands high above a meander in the River Irthing, in one of the most picturesque settings on Hadrian's Wall. A Roman fort, turret and milecastle can all be seen on this excellent stretch of the Wall.
With probably the best preserved defences of any Wall fort, this was an important base for some 1,000 Roman soldiers, succeeding an earlier fort of turf and timber. The section of Wall to the east, also of stone replacing turf, is the longest continuous stretch visible today.
Archaeological discoveries over the past 150 years have revealed a great deal about Roman military life at Birdoswald. Three of the four main gateways of the fort have been unearthed, as have the outside walls, two granary buildings, workshops and a unique drill hall.
People continued to live at Birdoswald after the Roman withdrawal. In the 5thC a large timber hall was built over the collapsed Roman granaries, perhaps for a local British chieftain. Later, a medieval tower house was raised here, replaced in the 16thC by a fortified 'bastle' farmhouse designed to protect its inhabitants from the notorious 'Border Reivers'. Later still in more peaceful times, a farmhouse stood there.
The Birdoswald Visitor Centre provides a good introduction to Hadrian's Wall, and tells the intriguing story of Birdoswald and the people who have lived there over the past 2,000 years. There is a cosy tearoom at the site if you need refreshments, and a wellstocked shop for souvenirs.
If you would like to stay within the walls of the fort, there is a 39 bed residential centre, which can be booked for groups. It provides a great base for exploring this and other sites on the Wall, and is an excellent educational resource.
If you would like to find out more about staying at Birdoswald, please call 01697 747602 for a residential pack.
* Closed 24-26 December, 31 December & 1 January.
Adult £6.10, concessions £5.50, child £3.70, family (2 adults and 3 children) £15.90. Prices exclude Gift Aid. Group rates available. Free to English Heritage members
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