- Newcastle Upon TynePons Aelius

Pons Aelius Roman Fort AD200
used with permission and courtesy
© AncientVine Studios

Not a great deal to see here as far as the Roman remains of the fort are concerned. They are buried some 15 feet below ground level. The Norman Castle Keep, medieval in origin, lies immediately above the fort and is built from the very same stone used to build the fort in the latter part of the second century or early third. Around the base of the castle you can see where some markings have been laid out using modern stone to show the Commanding Officer’s House, Headquarters Building and granaries where foundations have been excavated in a small area.

A lot of speculation still surrounds Pons Aelius and this is understandable because of the lack of opportunities to get down to the actual remains. The fort was not originally built when the Wall was constructed and it was possibly not until the late second or early third, century when it was constructed, which was well after the reign of Hadrian.

The Castle Keep is a Grade 1 listed building and a Scheduled Ancient monument so it is not possible to get underneath without serious repercussions for the castle foundations. It was built between 1168 and 1178 by Henry II. The Castle stands within a site that also contains an early motte and bailey castle built by Robert Curthose, the son of William the Conqueror, an Anglo-Saxon cemetery and of course the Roman Fort.

Pons Aelius is the name afforded to the bridge that crossed the Tyne, and named after Hadrian himself, before the fort was built in Newcastle. There is some thought that a fort may have been built somewhere along the banks of the river on the Gateshead side before the construction of the Wall began but so far nothing has been found to substantiate this theory. One possibility is that a road to the bridge would have been built from Concangis (Chester-le-Street) and crosses the Tyne at the site of the present day Swing Bridge. An original Roman pier was discovered in 1872 during the building of the latter and is now directly beneath the modern bridge. The Roman bridge may well have survived until Medieval times while its foundations have been used by further bridges built here. Finds from the riverbed are currently on display in the new Great North Museum at Hancock in Newcastle.

Garrisons known at on StreetMap Streetmap Logo link to OS map

Hadrianno evidence
Marcus_Aureliusno evidence
3rd_Centurycohors I Ulpia Traiana Cugernorum civium Romanorum (213) †
Notitia_Dignitatumcohors prima Cornoviorum †
1st_NoteIt is impossible to say if cohors I Thracum (RIB 1323), attested on a building record, was ever stationed at Newcastle.