Earthwatch volunteers at the South Shields Roman Fort have helped in mapping more than 1,000 square yards of pre-Roman and Roman settlements and excavating jewelry, armor, and ceramics.
Two millennia ago, the Roman Empire stretched all the way to northern England, which the Romans considered the very edge of civilization. Arbeia, the Roman fort overlooking the River Tyne and its harbor, was one of the largest and busiest supply depots in the northern Roman Empire. Hadrian’s Wall, just four miles (6.4 kilometers) from Arbeia, marks the boundary of the Empire. Beyond the wall lived the region’s native inhabitants, the Brigantes and the Picts. How did these cultures adapt to each other and coexist?
As a volunteer member of the archaeological team, you’ll help a seasoned team of researchers to excavate Arbeia and its environs to better understand how the Romans and the inhabitants of northern Britain came into contact with each other—and were forever changed by the experience. You’ll work in small groups, rotating among many tasks, including excavation using a trowel or more robust digging equipment, recording site data, site surveying, and sampling, cleaning, and processing finds.
When you're not digging into the past, you can spend your recreational time along Hadrian's Wall or enjoying local culture in South Shields or in the historic cities of Newcastle, York, Durham, and Edinburgh just a few hours’ travel from the field site. Most teams will stay in a cozy local guesthouse, while those who join the six-day team will arrange their own accommodations and can choose from any of South Shields’ many lodging options.