Segedunum to undergo improvements thanks to £499,000 Arts Council grant

North Tyneside Council has been successful in securing £499,000 of Government funding for a host of improvements at Segedunum Roman Fort and Museum.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site, located at Wallsend, is one of more than 60 galleries, museums, libraries, and cultural venues to receive cash through the Government’s £48m Cultural Investment Fund (CIF).

The grant will pay for repairs to the roof, the installation of a new lift, and other improvements. New equipment to control the conditions in the galleries will help to protect the museum’s internationally important collection of Roman artefacts and ensure that major exhibitions from other museums can be brought to the North East.

Segedunum is managed for the council by Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums and has welcomed almost one million visitors from the local community and tourists from all over the world since it opened in June 2000.

In AD 122, the Emperor Hadrian ordered a mighty frontier system to be built across Britain, designed to consolidate, and define the Roman Empire and help protect against raiding parties from the north. 

The result was Hadrian's Wall, a 73-mile barrier stretching from the River Tyne in the east to the Solway Firth in the west. Segedunum, which means ‘Strong Fort’, was built to guard the eastern end of the Wall and housed 600 Roman soldiers. It stood for almost 300 years as a symbol of Roman rule and a bastion against barbarian attack.

Today, Segedunum is once again a major site on Hadrian's Wall. It is the most excavated fort along the Wall with surviving foundations of many buildings and part of the Wall itself. There is a large interactive museum plus full-scale reconstructions of a bath house (currently viewed externally only) and a section of Wall within the grounds. The 35-metre-high viewing tower provides outstanding views across the World Heritage Site.

North Tyneside Council has identified Segedunum as a priority for investment as part of its Ambition for North Tyneside regeneration strategy and is working with Tyne and Wear Archives & Museums to transform the offer and visitor experience.

North Tyneside’s Elected Mayor, Norma Redfearn CBE, said: “This funding for essential repairs at Segedunum will hopefully set us on the road for the wider development of the World Heritage Site, which we are proud to have in Wallsend.

“MEND funding will ensure that Segedunum becomes even more welcoming for visitors and, as we develop our work through the Hadrian’s Wall Partnership, we hope to see more investment coming into the site to make this a truly exciting offer for visitors from across the region and beyond.”

Keith Merrin, Director of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, said: “It is fantastic to have this funding to make much needed repairs and improvements to Segedunum after 20 years of visits nearly a million people. This is just the start of an ambitious development programme at the museum to update displays and facilities so this important World Heritage Site can be enjoyed for years to come by local communities and visitors from far and wide.”

Arts Minister Lord Parkinson, said: “Culture is the bedrock of society. It brings people together, entertains and informs us, and helps us to understand our common past and shared future.

“Today we are announcing a raft of new funding for treasured cultural institutions up and down the country.

“This will help them to continue their great work, advance our work to level up access to arts and culture so they can be enjoyed by people no matter where they live, and protect these cherished institutions for future generations to enjoy.”

Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England, said: “Our artists, arts organisations, museums and libraries are experts in making villages, towns and cities better places to live, work, visit or play. This investment means they’ll be able to help more people across England to lead happier, more creative lives”.

The Cultural Investment Fund is allocating £48m to galleries, museums, libraries and cultural venues across the country, to help improve public access to the arts, safeguard cultural assets for future generations, and power economic growth through culture.

Money will be distributed to 63 organisations and allocated through three streams: £24 million through the Cultural Development Fund, £18.8 million through the Museums Estate and Development Fund, and £5 million through the Libraries Improvement Fund.

The Segedunum funding has been awarded from the Museums Estate and Development Fund (MEND) strand of the funding, which helps to pay for museum and local authority infrastructure projects and urgent maintenance works beyond their day-to-day budgets.

It was awarded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sports, delivered by Arts Council England.

The announcement follows a concerted effort by the Government to support the country’s vital cultural organisations.

Segedunum Roman Fort is currently taking part in the Hadrian’s Wall 1900 festival – a year-long series of events and exhibitions along the Wall celebrating 1900 years since it was built. Segedunum will be hosting an exhibition ‘Building the Wall’ from 9 April – 1 October 2022, exploring who built Hadrian’s Wall and how, and considering the substantial practical and logistical challenges involved. It will also focus on the revealing evidence from the impressive 80 metre stretch of Wall remains at Segedunum.