Sandhoe Fort (Beaufront Red House)

Vexillation Fort

The Vexillation Fortress was discovered during construction of the A69(T) Corbridge Bypass in 1974. Excavations conducted by the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle operating in advance of construction crews uncovered the eastern and western defensive ditches of a substantial Roman military installation in the area south of Beaufront Red House. The eastern defensive ditch of this very large fort was separated from it’s western counterpart by a gap of about 843 feet (257 metres). The extent to which the military encampment extended to north and south is unknown; the buildings of Beaufront Red House itself overlie the northern part of the site and the southern extent is obscured and confused by farm roads and field boundaries. Academic estimates for the north-south dimension suggested by the local topography is thought to be in the region of 1,300 feet, the area thus enclosed would be about 25 acres (c.10 hectares).

The post-holes of several timber buildings were found within the fort’s interior, including a fabrica or workshop with an associated pit and a possible well, at least one building identified as a barrack-block, also a dozen open-ended sheds measuring some 57 feet wide by 23 feet in length (c.17.5 x 7 metres). The fabrica and some of the eastern sheds underwent at least two phases of construction and there is evidence to suggest deliberate demolition of the defences and dismantling of the interior buildings around 87ad, after which the site was given over to agriculture.

The site has been classified as a vexillation fortress, which would have contained a mixed garrison of both legionary and auxiliary troops united under a single campaign banner or vexillum. This fortress is thought to represent the main eastern base of governor Agricola , established prior to his northward push into Scotland c.80ad. Nothing remains to be seen nowadays, the buildings uncovered during the rescue excavations being back-filled immediately after they had been recorded and now overlain by the modern trunk road.

References for Beaufront Red House

  • Hadrian’s Wall History Trails Guidebook IV by Les Turnbull (Newcastle, 1974), pp.3-23;
  • Hadrian’s Wall in the Days of the Romans by Ronald Embleton and Frank Graham (Newcastle, 1984) pp.98-113;
  • Hadrian’s Wall Map and Guide by the Ordnance Survey (Southampton, 1989);
  • Outdoor Leisure Map #43 – Hadrians Wall, Haltwhistle & Hexham by the Ordnance Survey (Southampton, 1997).

Map References for Beaufront Red House

NGRef: NY971651 OSMap: Hadrian’s Wall, LR88.

OS National Grid Reference: NY024668
Dimensions: 843 x c.1,295 ft (257 x c.395 m)
Area: c.25 acres (c.10 ha)

Roman Roads near Beaufront Red House

None identified