Burial Remains Found at Birdoswald on Show for the First Time

The remains belong to a woman and child and challenge current thinking about life at Hadrian's Wall. 

Burial remains found at Birdoswald.
Burial remains found at Birdoswald.

Previously unseen Roman cremation urns found outside Birdoswald Roman Fort will go on display from today. The announcement comes as Birdoswald and nearby Corbridge Roman Town, both situated at Hadrian's Wall, re-opens to the public with new exhibitions.

The remains found at Birdoswald belong to a young woman and a five-year-old who were buried together and therefore are believed to be a mother and her child.

These finds challenge the assumption that Hadrian's Wall was only occupied by military men. Historians are also puzzled by a section of iron chain mail from armour found inside the urn with the woman. This usually indicates a male burial as women are not thought to have been part of the military.

Two people study the museum finds at Corbridge Roman Town.
Studying the discoveries at the new exhibition at Corbridge Roman Town.

About the exhibitions

Visitors to Corbridge can also now see many relics from Roman daily life. These include infants' feeding bottles, remnants of a doll, a bone whistle and evidence of board games. A perfume vase in impeccable condition is also on display for the first time. This is likely to have contained precious oils such as frankincense or rose water belonging to a woman of high status.

New research has also enabled experts to better understand what this town would have looked like. English Heritage has included new visualisations as part of its re-presented museum.

At Birdoswald the new exhibition tells the story of the garrison and its support communities with several interactive experiences designed for families. This includes a have-a-go crane to demonstrate the skills required to build the wall and a periscope showing the view as it may have been during the Roman occupation.

Outside visitors can also take part in a new clue-cracking trail and appreciate the location of the fort which sits on the longest continuous section of Hadrian's Wall.

The wall at Birdoswald
The wall at Birdoswald.

English Heritage Curator of Roman Collections, Frances McIntosh said:

'Alongside its military function, Hadrian's Wall was a thriving centre of everyday life. Even though ordinary Roman soldiers weren't officially allowed to marry until 197AD, a blind eye was often turned and many wives and children would have lived there. There would have also been a large community of civilians which sprung up to service the forts.

'The discovery of this woman and child is fascinating. It leaves us with questions about how they were related and why she was buried with armour. It also reminds us how rich and diverse the story of life on Hadrian's Wall is. This is something which our new exhibitions at Birdoswald and Corbridge will highlight.'

The new exhibitions at Birdoswald and Corbridge are open daily from today.

Find out more about the new exhibitions at Birdoswald Roman Fort and Corbridge Roman Town.

Plan a weekend on Hadrian's Wall.

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