Segedunum Roman Fort Welcomes Centurion
Back in the year AD 122 the (now) UK was ruled by the powerful Roman emperor Hadrian. His name is still well known because he left a very special legacy in the form of a 70-mile wall, which is still largely intact in some form today.
There are various theories about exactly why the wall as built, with the most popular being its potential role in containing the ‘barbarians’ who lived in the northern section of the country. Other experts say it may have been a kind of tax checkpoint or simply something constructed simply because he could!
Hadrian’s Heritage Lives On
What experts can agree on is the presence of forts which were used to guard sections of the wall. The 600-strong unit of Roman soldiers based at the eastern end was known as Segedunum.
Today Segedunum has been partly excavated, and the area hosts the ruins – a reconstructed Roman bath house and a museum which offer visitors fascinating insights into the daily life of the Romans.
A new addition to the museum is the acclaimed sculpture of Sentius Tectonicus – a nearly three-metre-high Roman centurion soldier. This striking Corten metal sculpture by artist John O’Rourke was commissioned by the council of North Tyneside to represent both the historical significance of the wall and the now faded industry which once underpinned the industrial economy of the area.
Merging Past and Present
Visitors to the World Heritage site may admire Sentius – named after a soldier believed to have been involved in the construction of Hadrian ‘s Wall – but for the locals there’s something extra special about the project. Adopting dying industrial skills and materials to create a magnificent monument to ancient heritage has offered the surrounding communities much-needed work, hope and pride.
Sentius Tectonicus was constructed from the same very strong and definitely weather-proof material as a similarly acclaimed statue, the ‘Angel of the North’, which unexpectedly triggered demand from the general public for similar garden-sized artwork. This is a trend which is keeping companies such as http://www.afsculpture.uk/scuplture-portfolio/corten-metal-sculptures busy with a new outlet for their skills.
The magnificent Sentius is set to be a permanent part of the museum, and with ten months a year to visit there’s no doubt thousands of domestic and international visitors will get to meet him.