Roman statue of Victory to return to Housesteads Roman Fort, Northumberland as part of a new exhibition.
The statue returns for the first time since it was removed in the 19th century.
It will greet visitors to the fort just as it did thousands of years ago.
It is considered to be one of the best examples of a Roman statue of Victory in Britain today and is thought to have originally been carved for one of the official buildings at Housesteads, conveying the military might of the Roman Empire to all who saw it.
The new exhibition at Housesteads Roman fort will tell the story of the most complete Roman fort in Britain, exploring the lives of the soldiers and civilians who lived and fought in the ancient and remote hilltop fortress on the edge of the Roman Empire.
[pullquote]Housesteads is one of the most dramatic places on the Wall and the most complete Roman fort anywhere on this island.
Baroness Andrews Chair of English Heritage [/pullquote]English Heritage will re-open the site in April, after six months work adding new objects to the outstanding collection of Roman carvings and artefacts already on display.
The new exhibition in the museum at Housesteads will serve as an ideal introduction to the ruined fort, one of the most important sites on Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site.
Visitors will be able to wander through the remains of the barracks and with the help of new interpretation, imagine what life would have been like in the fortress 2,000 years ago.
Baroness Andrews Chair of English Heritage, said: “Housesteads is one of the most dramatic places on the Wall and the most complete Roman fort anywhere on this island.”
Clay drinking cups
Known to the Romans as “Vercovicium” or “the place of effective fighters”, Housesteads was added to the Wall in the mid 120s AD.
The exhibition will explore all aspects of life in the busy fort, showing the perhaps surprising sophistication of the people who lived there; from the tools used to maintain the fort’s buildings to the medical equipment employed to keep troops healthy in the hospital on site.
Small, personal objects such as devotional altars and shoes, will sit beside the intricate objects of the Commanding Officer’s house like high status decorative clay drinking cups imported from France and finely carved fluted jet beads.
Housesteads was not just a highly efficient military base, it was home to civilians who lived just outside the fort in a tough civilian encampment known as the vicus, a common pattern across the Roman Empire.
Their lives next to the huge military presence of the Romans will also be examined.
Coin moulds used in counterfeiting within the settlement are on display, hinting at the marginal activities of some of the people who lived there.
English Heritage, National Trust and Northumberland National Park Authority are working in partnership on this project and the development of the new exhibition space is part of a wider plan for improvements to the visitor facilities at Housesteads.
The redevelopment will see both English Heritage and National Trust each invest £500,000 into Housesteads, with Northumberland National Park investing £40,000.
National Trust will improve the welcome for visitors; remodelling the visitor centre, toilets, shop and café with work due to take place towards the end of 2012.
Northumberland National Park Authority is working to improve the visitor infrastructure to provide additional car park spaces, a more convenient stop for the Hadrian’s Wall Bus and to improve access for visitors.
Along Hadrian’s Wall
The improvements at Housesteads are part of an investment from English Heritage along Hadrian’s Wall.
In Cumbria, Carlisle Castle will benefit from a brand new exhibition exploring the story of the castle’s famous and infamous inhabitants.
It will cast new light on how the castle’s proud keep has changed over the centuries and explores its role as a border fortress within the most besieged city in England.
In addition to this development, the Captain’s Tower, which is one of the best preserved gatehouses in the UK, will be re-opening to all castle visitors for the first time in 20 years.
Housesteads will re-open to the public in April.
The fort will be open daily from 10am – 6pm, admission charges apply.