Scheduled Ancient Monument and UNESCO World Heritage Site
26 Aug 2020
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Current status is
'The fort measured 581 feet north-south by 417 feet east-west, and covered 5.64 acres. Though its existence was known, its hill-top site a reservoir was built over the northern third of the site in 1858 and enlarged in 1957.
The West Road crosses the fort from east-west, lying over the gates and the north frontages of the principal buildings (from east-west: the Commanding Officer's house, HQ building (notable for its underground strongroom and settling tank), twin granaries and workshop). Behind was the via quintana, running between the minor gates, south of that a hospital, barracks, etc., and to the south of these a probable double stable blocks inside the twin-portalled south gate and rampart. Other buildings, including the Vallum crossing, have been found outside the fort and are indexed separately.
After the 1920s-1930s excavations the southern two-thirds of the fort became a housing estate. A dedication tablet suggests building began 122/124A.D; pottery indicates a rebuild at the end of the 2nd century and that occupation lasted into the late 4th century.'
The two maps above illustrate the site of Condercum Fort in Benwell. The Ordnance Survey maps both date from the latter half of the 19th century, with the first being 1864 further above. This one highlights the extent of the main complex on the West Road which follows the line of Hadrian's Wall. A number of buildings can be seen, and notes the supposed site of a Hypocaust, which is an underfloor heating system developed by the Romans. The site is relatively untouched as Benwell is so rural at this point, though the reservoir on the other side of the street occupies some of the old site.
The map from 1899 is from a similar perspective, though Benwell has frown considerably since. The Roman Vallum. an earthwork unique to Hadrian's Wall, is also lined just south of the West Road. Many features around the site are named after 'Condercum', i.e a number of cottages and larger buildings.
Artists representation of Condercum at its height. The scale of the site is impressive, and where the West Road is situated can be clearly defined by the wall that dominates the scene. The fort was clearly more of a scaled settlement, with some cottage industries and families living beyond the complex and lining the main roads to Elswick and further west.
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