The Small Fort at Newbrough Churchyard
This small fort lies wholly beneath the site of Saint Peter’s churchyard at the western end of Newbrough village and although it is roughly the same size as other Trajanic fortlets on the Stanegate at Throp and Haltwhistle Burn, excavations conducted by F.G. Simpson in 1930 recorded only 4th century pottery remains and a single coin of Constantine. The defenses of the fort consisted of a rampart wall of re-used stone 4 feet (c.1.2m) thick, without a backing earthen rampart, unlike the Trajanic forts at Throp and Haltwhistle but very similar in construction to the known 4th-century coastal signal stations on the North Sea coast at Scarborough and Ravenscar.
It appears that this stone-built 4th century fortlet may have replaced an earlier establishment of turf-and-timber which had been abandoned before any occupation evidence could accumulate, the site being later re-used and re-occupied during the reorganisation of the northern fronter system during the reign of emperor Constans. The complete lack of any occupation levels beneath the 4th-century defenses together with the dearth of dating evidence from the Trajanic period could be explained by many scenarios:
- There was no Trajanic military presence at Newbrough.
- There was a turf-and-timber fortlet at the churchyard site during Trajanic times but the site was completely levelled by Roman engineers in the 4th century prior to building the stone fortlet.
- There was a Trajanic military presence at Newbrough which predated the stone-built churchyard fortlet but on a completely different site.
The Stanegate Camp at Sidgate
The site of a possible Trajanic precursor for the 4th-century fortlet beneath the Church-yard lies just to the south of the Stanegate road at the eastern end of Newbrough village. This encampment’s north-eastern corner lies buried beneath the houses of the Sidgate estate, but the majority of the camp lies in the two fields to the east of the village south of the Stanegate and north of the B6319, which minor road overlies the camp’s extreme south-eastern corner angle about one-hundred yards west of Red Houses. The enclosure delineated by a single ditch is a parallelogram, the north and south sides each measuring about 620 feet (190m) with the east and west sides each around 950 feet (290m), the north-west and south-eastern acute corner-angles subtend through about 85 degrees, the north-east and south-western corner-angles are obtuse turning through about 95 degrees. The northern defenses run roughly parallel with the Stanegate road. No gateways are visible. The camp is possibly aligned to the north-north-west. Although it is assumed that the camp belongs to the Trajanic Stanegate frontier, it is equally possible that this encampment may date to the Agricolan campaigns through northern Britain c.80ad and the alignment of it’s northern defenses with the Stanegate road merely coincidental.
The roman encampment overlies or is overlaid by a smaller, irregular, double-ditched enclosure on a completely different alignment, the defensive ditches of which lie wholly within and at no point intersect the large enclosure’s defenses. This smaller enclosure seems to take advantage of a narrow spur of land above the north bank of the River North Tyne and possibly represents a native farmstead, although whether it pre-dates or succeeded the large Roman encampment will not be known until the site is excavated.
Roman Roads near Newbrough
Stanegate: W (5.5) to Barcombe Stanegate: W (5.25) to Crindledykes Stanegate: W (4) to Grindon Hill Stanegate: WSW (7) to Vindolanda (Chesterholm, Northumberland) Stanegate: E (2.75) to Cilvrnvm (Chesters, Northumberland)