History and Stories

History and Stories: Corbridge Roman Town

Situated in the Tyne valley surrounded by rolling Northumberland hills, Corbridge Roman Town was once at the crossroads of two major Roman thoroughfares. Over the course of 350 years it developed from a strategic military fort into a bustling, cosmopolitan town, where civilians, tradespeople and craftsmen rubbed shoulders with soldiers and officers on their way to Hadrian’s Wall.

Today it houses one of the most important Roman collections in Britain, and many of the objects offer a fascinating insight into life in a Roman town at the north-western edge of Empire. Explore the stories and the mysteries of one of our most enigmatic Roman towns.

Key Facts about Corbridge Roman Town

  • From its beginnings as a military fort, Corbridge evolved into a vibrant civilian settlement – the most northerly town in the Roman Empire. Unlike other settlements in the area, it continued to flourish even in the later stages of Roman rule in Britannia.
  • Roman Corbridge was set at the junction of two major roads: Dere Street, running north to south, and the Stanegate, running east to west. The nearby river Tyne provided another major route for trade and travel.
  • The history of Roman Corbridge is entwined with that of Hadrian’s Wall, just 2.5 miles to the north. Soldiers passed through to serve on the Wall, while the traders working in the town’s bustling high street provided the Wall with vital supplies. 
  • The town’s original name, Coria, means ‘hosting place’ in Celtic, indicating its function as a central meeting place at the north-western frontier of the Roman Empire.
  • In 1964 archaeologists unearthed a wooden chest buried by a Roman soldier some 1,800 years earlier. Now known as the Corbridge Hoard, some objects from this fascinating time capsule can be seen in the museum.
Read More About the History of Corbridge

Uncovering the Corbridge Story 1. The Time Capsule

In the first of three films we go back to the early phase of Corbridge's life, when a Roman soldier buried a chest full of his belongings. Rediscovered 1,900 years later, it now serves as a remarkable time capsule of Roman life at the edge of Empire.

In the first of three films we go back to the early phase of Corbridge's life, when a Roman soldier buried a chest full of his belongings. Rediscovered 1,900 years later, it now serves as a remarkable time capsule of Roman life at the edge of Empire.

Uncovering the Corbridge Story 2. Life on the Crossroads

In the second film of our three-part series we discover some of the objects that were bought and sold on Corbridge’s bustling high street, and learn how the town became a centre for trade and industry.

In the second film of our three-part series we discover some of the objects that were bought and sold on Corbridge’s bustling high street, and learn how the town became a centre for trade and industry.

Uncovering the Corbridge Story 3. Lasting Connections

In this final film of our three-part series we look in detail at the extraordinary Corbridge Lanx – a decorative silver tray that reveals the wealth and pride of the town’s residents, and their lasting connections with the far side of the Empire.

In this final film of our three-part series we look in detail at the extraordinary Corbridge Lanx – a decorative silver tray that reveals the wealth and pride of the town’s residents, and their lasting connections with the far side of the Empire.

1. The Time Capsule
2. Life on the Crossroads
3. Lasting Connections

Discover Corbridge

  • The Mysteries of Corbridge

    From strange heads on pots to missing temples, there are many things about Corbridge that continue to puzzle us. Read about the site’s most enigmatic mysteries here.

  • The Corbridge Lion and Changing Beliefs

    Lions were commonly used as sacred symbols in Roman memorials, but the Corbridge lion is different. Discover what this extraordinary sculpture tells us about changing beliefs in Roman Britain.

  • Collection Highlights

    Enjoy a gallery of edited highlights from Corbridge’s immense collection, and then explore more objects in 3D, below.

Explore the Collection in 3D

Scroll through the images below to view the highlights of Corbridge’s museum collection in 3D. Click the play button and use your cursor or touch screen to rotate the object and zoom in. For descriptions of each object, click the title in the top left of the screen (opens in new window).

Models derived photogrammetrically by Jon Bedford of the Geospatial Imaging Team at Historic England on behalf of English Heritage.

More About Corbridge

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