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Arbeia Roman Fort in South Shields turns 30 years old

Arbeia Roman Fort in South Shields is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

The unique Roman reconstructed West Gate at Arbeia turns 30 this month.

It was officially opened by the Duke of Gloucester on 6 April 1988 and is the only reconstructed Roman gateway in the UK erected on its Roman predecessor's actual remains.

Inspired by Roman reconstructions like the famous 19C Roman fort at Saalburg in Germany, the ambitious reconstruction was the result of years of extensive research and planning.

The gate being built in the 1980's in South Shields Credit: Arbeia Roman Fort

"It's very satisfying to see the West Gate at Arbeia in South Shields see its 30th anniversary. The reconstructed gate house has become an icon for Roman Britain.

"There are no original gateways left anywhere, and as there are no surviving complete Roman buildings in the country it was a very exciting project and generated a huge amount of publicity at the time. I'm very proud to have been part of it; it gives people a real flavour of what it would have actually been like on that very spot 1,800 years ago."

"Arbeia was an important part of Hadrian's Wall - it was a large busy settlement and home to 600 soldiers at one point. Some of the most significant finds from Roman Britain were discovered in this area and the West Gate reflects the fort's status in the recent understanding of military Roman Britain."

– Paul Bidwell OBE, retired head of archaeology at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums
The gate was officially opened by the Duke of Gloucester on 6 April 1988 Credit: Arbeia Roman Fort

The stone masons that were employed in 1988 had to be retrained by the team at Arbeia to create the West Gate using Roman techniques.

Arbeia's other Roman reconstructed buildings were created at a later date.

They include the Commanding Officer's House and soldier's barrack block, all also created on their original foundations.

The stone masons that were employed in 1988 had to be retrained by the team at Arbeia to create the West Gate using Roman techniques. Credit: Arbeia Roman Fort

Last year £280,000 worth of improvements were made to the visitor attraction, which so far has seen new visitor information, navigational paths and platforms put up around the fort remains.