February 2, 2016 | Community News
A successful community archaeology project that’s unearthed exciting new information about Hadrian’s Wall is set to have a permanent record of its findings in the areas where work has been undertaken.
The WallQuest project was set up in 2012 by Tyne & Wear Museums & Archives (TWAM) to explore some of the less iconic remains of the Wall that are found in the modern day urban areas towards its eastern end, including in Wallsend, South Shields, Benwell and central Newcastle.
WallQuest was designed to raise awareness of and interest in the history on the doorsteps of people living in areas from the North Sea coast to as far west as the village of Acomb near Hexham, and has so far attracted over 450 local history and archaeology enthusiasts to work alongside professional archaeologists on a range of research projects and excavations.
And now, thanks to a £10,000 grant from regional employer The Banks Group, via its Banks Community Fund, interpretative boards will be placed at various project locations showing what work has been done and what has been learned in each place.
The boards, which are designed to be as weather and vandal-proof as possible, are being put in place as soon as local research has been completed, and are being shaped to fit in with their respective surroundings in the most appropriate way.
Among the project’s findings was the exact location of the bathhouse at the Segedunum Roman fort in Wallsend, which hadn’t previously been identified, and on which further investigations will now be carried out until the end of 2016 after extra funding was secured.
Nick Hodgson, WallQuest project manager at TWAM, says: “If people are asked which parts of Hadrian’s Wall comes to mind first, the likes of Housesteads Fort and Sycamore Gap are almost certain to be at the top of the list, but there’s far more to the Wall than just these iconic locations, and while it is often invisible in the more urban areas towards its Eastern end, many local people are still proud of it and fascinated by it.
“The WallQuest project was designed to give local people and groups the chance to get involved in research and excavation in various different places along the Wall, and it’s very gratifying that dozens of them did just that, often with very interesting and exciting results.
“We’re now looking at the best ways of disseminating information about what we’ve found to both the archaeological community and the wider general public, and the interpretative boards will provide a clear record of what happened at the site and what we learned from the work that local people did alongside our expert team.
“Having them in place will be a key part of ensuring that the enthusiasm and awareness that has been generated towards this project has a lasting impact on these communities, and we’re very grateful to the Banks Group for helping us add an extra, long-term dimension to this very successful project.”
Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at The Banks Group, adds: “WallQuest has generated huge interest and enthusiasm in many of the communities that form the less well-known parts of the Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site, many of which are also areas in which we have ongoing projects or have worked in the past.
“We’re very pleased to be supporting such an interesting and invaluable community-based initiative, and hope it provides inspiration for even more people to find out more about their areas’ history and heritage.”
The Banks Community Fund provides grants for community groups and voluntary organisations in the vicinity of both operational and proposed Banks Group projects. Anyone interested in applying for funding should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342.