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  • Behind me is the Stanegate. This was fashioned by the residents of Corbridge into a high

  • street along which shops and businesses jostled to get access to the travellers passing along

  • the frontier of Roman Britain. This was really the lifeline of the Roman town for almost

  • all of its existence.

  • By the end of the second century the permanent fort had left and the town that had been outside

  • of that fort had expanded and really capitalised on its important position on the crossroads.

  • Running east to west was the Stanegate, running north to south was Dere Street, and of course

  • then there's the River Tyne that connects Corbridge to the coast. This makes Corbridge

  • the ideal location for a trading town.

  • These objects are a real insight into the thriving town or market town, as we would

  • maybe describe it, Corbridge would have been. These pots we think were made in the late

  • second and third century. Now this mould here shows Jupiter Dolichenus, who's a god who

  • originates in Syria and is brought across the Empire by the army. This piece shows a

  • smith god and he's got his tools of his trade. So he's holding an axe, his tongs

  • and this here is his anvil ready to strike.

  • To make a town like this successful you need everyday people like the blacksmith, grafting

  • to make the products and to sell them. And they would have done so from buildings like

  • this. This is a humble strip house. At the front, next to the high street, would have

  • been a shop. At the back there was probably a workshop and then above that dwelling space

  • for the family that lived here.

  • Now we don't just have this evidence at Corbridge. We have evidence of broader manufacture.

  • And we know that there were people making mortaria at Corbridge, which is grinding vessels,

  • and this is a fragment here. And you can see here this is stamped with a name or three

  • letters, and the name is Saturninus. And we know this was made at Corbridge because we

  • have the stamp. Saturninus would have wanted people to know that he made this mortaria,

  • because then if it's a good mortaria they'll recommend him to other people to buy his mortaria

  • from. It's a bit of free advertising and also a little bit like a trademark.

  • So not only did they take a certain amount of pride in some of the materials they made,

  • the people of Corbridge took pride in their town. As a place of wealth, as a place of

  • beauty, both in terms of what they were producing and where they were living. So for example

  • the granaries had these elaborate columns. Behind me there would have been a public fountain

  • which would have had statues either side of it.

  • Across the Roman Empire every time a fort is built or settled, a town springs up around

  • the outside to service that fort. Quite often when the fort leaves or the army leaves, that

  • town disperses. However at Corbridge that is not the case. The army leaves and the town

  • stays and actually gets bigger, so it's building its own identity.

  • Here we have a visual representation of the longevity of Corbridge. Down at the bottom

  • here is the road level quite early on in the town's history, then over the centuries

  • the residents of Corbridge repaired the road, adding new flagstones to make sure that trade

  • could continue to pass. And so the level of the road rises up a couple of metres to where

  • it was at the very end of Roman Corbridge, sometime in the early fifth century.

Behind me is the Stanegate. This was fashioned by the residents of Corbridge into a high

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Uncovering The Corbridge Story: Life On The Crossroads

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    Summer posted on 2020/10/30
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