Friday, 11 June 2010

Tweedmouth: The End of the Road? (NT996523)

It may be Berwick’s poor relation when it comes to recent historical attention, but it’s just possible that Tweedmouth, on the southern bank of the river from which it gained its name, may have been the place to be in this part of the world in the days of the Romans. Berwick itself has no evidence of pre-(Norman)Conquest occupation, though its place-name suggests that it may give up some such evidence someday. Tweedmouth, however, is much better placed for any potential Roman super-discovery.

The Devil’s Causeway, the Roman Road which stretches northward from its junction with Dere Street near Corbridge for 50+ miles, points directly at the town – though falls tantalisingly short a mile or so to the south in the fields near Springhill. At one time Springhill was thought to be the site of a Roman Fort, such are the features of its landscape – but this is not now thought to be the case. Since this area to the south of the Tweed has barely been scratched by archaeologists, then circumstantial evidence and speculation is all we have to go on – though common sense strongly suggests that a Roman site on or very near to Tweedmouth, at the very top of the Causeway, is likely to have existed when the great thoroughfare was in use.

There is enough solid evidence at other sites in the area to the south of the Tweed to suggest that Roman activity was substantial hereabouts. And the presence of a port, fort or supply base at the mouth of the Tweed – with the river acting as both a line of supply and a natural line of defence to the north – would tie in with everything we know about the Romans from other parts of their empire. Additionally, Tweedmouth has for centuries provided Berwick with its deep water dock, which would suggest that this may have had a historical precedent with the Romans.

Just look at a map. It all makes sense. ‘Bout time someone started digging.

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