Birdoswald Roman Fort

History and Stories: Birdoswald Roman Fort

Birdoswald Roman Fort is set on a spectacular ridge above the river Irthing, offering fabulous views down into the gorge below. To the east are the crags of the Whin Sill, where the remains of Hadrian’s Wall can be seen tracing the contours of the dramatic landscape.

More than 1,800 years of history have been played out at this spot. Spanning the Romans, 16th century border raiders and Victorian romantics, Birdoswald’s layered history has made it an archaeologist's paradise. Discover what the site reveals about life on Hadrian’s Wall, and learn about the people who travelled across the Roman Empire and made this place their home.

Birdoswald Roman Fort

Key Facts About Birdoswald Roman Fort

  • Birdoswald was once an area of bog and forest. The Romans had to clear and drain the land before building work could begin.
  • The defences of Birdoswald are extremely well preserved and the site is one of the best places to see the very first Hadrian’s Wall, which was built of turf.
  • The military unit that left the most enduring legacy at Birdoswald were the Dacians, who travelled with the Roman army from modern-day Romania. They carved symbols from their homeland into the fort walls and worshipped local deities as well as Roman gods. 
  • Several burial urns were recently excavated from a Roman cemetery at Birdoswald. Studies have revealed the cremated remains of women and children as well as male soldiers.
  • Excavations at Birdoswald were the first to reveal the history of a Hadrian’s Wall fort after the Romans left, finding evidence that life continued even after the Empire withdrew support.
  • A bastle house – a kind of fortified farmhouse – was built at Birdoswald in the 16th century to protect against border raiders.

Explore Birdoswald’s History

  • Reconstruction of Birdoswald Roman Fort

    The People of Birdoswald

    Once sworn enemies of the Roman Empire, the Dacians became trusted protectors of its north-western frontier. Explore their story and learn more about the diverse cultures on Hadrian’s Wall.

  • A Roman urn in two pieces

    Death and Burial Rites at Birdoswald

    A rare excavation of burial urns found at Birdoswald has allowed researchers to examine the remains of those who lived and died at the fort. Discover what the new research reveals.

  • Black and white image of men excavating Birdoswald

    Uncovering the Secrets of Hadrian's Wall

    The remains of Birdoswald Roman Fort have revealed more about Hadrian’s Wall than any other site along Wall. Discover what some of the key finds tell us about the Romans and those who came after.

More About Birdoswald

Explore Hadrian's Wall

  • Artist's impression of a Roman fort

    Hadrian's Wall: History and Stories

    Discover the histories, stories and mysteries associated with English Heritage’s sites along Hadrian’s Wall.

  • Stone relief sculpture of the Roman sun goddess Sol

    Corbridge: History and Stories

    Corbridge developed from a military outpost into a cosmopolitan town. Explore its history and extraordinary collection of objects.

  • View of Housesteads Roman Fort at sunset

    History of Housesteads Roman Fort

    Read about the fascinating history of Housesteads – the most complete example of a Roman fort in Britain, and one of the best-known from the entire Roman Empire.

  • Graphics image with title 'Two Guided Walks from Birdoswald Roman Fort'

    Walk the Wall

    Explore Birdoswald’s historic landscape using our pocket-sized, waterproof guide. The two circular walks include maps, directions and points of interest.

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