Excavating the Roman Empire in Britain

Archaeology & Culture

Excavating the Roman Empire in Britain

Join an archaeological excavation near Hadrian’s Wall to discover how the Romans lived in northern England.

Previously Funded Expedition

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The facts

Why the research is important

Why the research is important

Through our research, we aim to provide a more complete picture that can inform future plans for the management and conservation of the site.

After more than 10 years of excavation, Earthwatchers continue to discover new artifacts at the Arbeia dig.

Arbeia was a Roman military and civilian settlement and port of supply, situated on a flat-topped hill with a view of the mouth of the River Tyne. The fort became part of the frontier defense system begun in A.D. 122 by the Emperor Hadrian, whose famous wall starts only four miles (6.4 kilometers) west of South Shields and runs across the island of Great Britain.

New discoveries are constantly being made at the site; we are producing a more detailed picture of the inside of a Roman military base of the first to the fourth centuries than has ever been drawn before. Through our research, we aim to provide a more complete picture that can inform future plans for the management and conservation of the site.

Earthwatch teams have greatly advanced knowledge of the civilian area of the site. Life here was thought to have come to a sudden end around A.D. 260, when trade networks across the empire were disrupted during a period of military crisis and barbarian invasion. The new excavation area, however, is producing a contrasting picture: the civilian settlement got smaller in the late third century, but it did not disappear.

Roman artifacts found at Fort Arbeia

Conduct site surveys and help process exciting finds.

You will work with other volunteers, taking part in excavation activities, site surveying, sampling, cleaning, planning, mapping, and completing post-excavation work, including processing of finds and wet-sieving of environmental material.

About the research area

South Shields, Tyneside, United Kingdom, Europe & Russia

Daily life in the field


This is a summary:



The Scientists


Head of Archaeology, Tyne and Wear Museums

ABOUT Paul Bidwell

Earthwatch archaeologist Paul Bidwell is known for discovering the great Roman baths in the English city of Exeter and for his many excavations on Hadrian’s Wall.



Accommodations and Food

Accommodations and Food


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