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.
History of the Trimontium Museum
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 1st century, were strengthened by 4 outer ditches at the end of the 2nd 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 2,000 and 5,000 at any given time. First between 80-105 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.
Trimontium Museum today
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.
Many of the original and later finds from Trimontium are of such quality and importance that they are displayed at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.
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.
Getting to Trimontium Museum
The main museum site has gone extensive redevelopment, re-opening in summer 2021, and is free to enter.
The museum is about 31 miles south east of Edinburgh near the Eildon Hills, situated on the B6374 just off the A6091, south of the River Tweed. The nearest station is Tweedbank, just under an hour’s train journey from Edinburgh.