About Trimontium Museum
Unfortunately no upstanding stones remain of the Roman fort at Newstead, but visitors to the Trimontium Museum in nearby Melrose can still get a tangible insight into life in the Roman frontiers through a wide variety of artefacts and reproductions.
A guided walk run by the Trimontium Museum also points out visible features in the landscape of Newstead, such as the ploughed-out rampart and the amphitheatre, to give visitors as much of a sense of the former structure as possible.
Derived from ‘trium montium’ (or ‘three mountains’), the fort of Trimontium took its name from its position nestled in between the three Eildon Hills. Its advantageous placing made it a perfect advance post for the Roman province, and its design was geared towards this purpose. Central earthen defences, crafted in the first century, were strengthened by four outer ditches at the end of the second century. The western annex was also given a series of wall and trenches for further protection. Supplies and men reached the fort from a series of roads that extended outwards from the fort, giving it a wheel-like appearance from an aerial perspective.
Trimontium is thought to have been occupied by the Romans three times, with a garrison that numbered between 2000 and 5000 at any given time. First between 80 and 105 AD, then in around 140 AD as a support centre when Hadrian's successor Antoninus Pius brought an army back into Scotland, and finally from the desertion of the Antonine Wall in the 160s AD until the withdrawal of the army in around 185 AD. After this, the fort was no longer an occupied stronghold, but may have been visited by troops inspecting the buffer zone north of Hadrian’s Wall.
Since the site was first excavated in 1905, a wealth of artefacts has been discovered charting the extensive use of the fort. Now housed in the museum, they include items ranging from shoes and tools to armour and arrowheads. As well as gaining an impression of the military prowess of the Roman army, visitors can see some of the finer details of daily life that help to bring the past to life.