Arbeia Vicus

Small Roman Town

The site of the Roman vicus associated with the fort at Arbeia, South Shields. The mainstream occupation appears to have ceased before the end of the third century.

Excavations of Arbeia Vicus

Excavations in 1973-4 seem to confirm the location of a Roman vicus at South Shields. A 2nd century rectangular building was exposed, with hearths and rough paved areas indicative of occupation into the late 4th century. Large quantities of 2nd and 3rd century pottery were found, along with roofing tiles and an area of burning, suggesting a possible market place. Two floor levels were found within the building and a layer of burnt material overlying them. Subsequently the area seems to have been occupied by possible late C4th ‘squatters’ as the evidence of several hearths and rough paved areas suggest. Abutting the E side of the building were the remains of a cobbled street with part of a drain running centrally.

Excavations in 2002, 125m west-south-west of the fort, during extensions to Hadrian School, found remains of second to third century timber buildings at a depth of almost 2 metres, suggesting that the entire plan of the vicus may survive below 19th and 20th century housing. The remains of a road and a possible unfinished timber granary were also identified. The mainstream occupation appears to have ceased before the end of the third century.

Salway suggests that the vicus, whose existence has already been proved from the monuments in the Roman cemetery, probably grew up along the Roman road, discovered 1874  S of the fort.