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Welcome to the Trimontium Heritage Centre

The Story of the Roman Capital of South Scotland

Lifesize model of 2nd century Roman soldierTrimontium was the name of the Three Hills Place - in the lee of the Eildon Hills one mile from the town of Melrose beside the village of Newstead in the Scottish Borders. In the 1st and 2nd centuries AD there grew up an enormous Romano-native complex - which lasted around 100 years. The Centre is in Melrose. The story is coming up! A new website at www.trimontium.co.uk is being prepared but all the necessary information for 2018 is laid out here.

The Accredited Museum displays are on the ground floor.The highlight is the Synton Hoard (1st and 2nd century AD) - 228 silver denarii from Domitian in 81 AD to Marcus Aurelius in 181 AD) and there is wheelchair access throughout.

The 2018 season runs from Monday 2 April to Wednesday 31 October. Entry - £2; £1 school pupil or student; £5 family. Schools are welcome at any time (ring 01896 822651) and during the close season, if we can manage, we'll open for others on request. The Museum is run entirely by volunteers.

The Spring 2018 lectures - 'Bullets, Bullion and - The Builder' will be held on Thursdays 12 and 19 April, and on 24 May. at 7.30pm in Melrose Corn Exchange. Dr John Reid, the Trust Chairman, will update the audience on his findings from the 2015 and 2016 excavations at Burnswark Hill in Dumfries and Galloway, on 12 April, his title being 'Brush up your Burnswark! How dare you change the story'

On 19 April Andy Nicholson, Archaeologist for Dumfries and Galloway, who co-directed the Burnswark excavations, will tell the incredible story of the finding of 'The Galloway Hoard: a vase, and a National Treasure' which has now been secured for the nation..a Viking cache of wonderful golden objects which is to be studied by experts to reveal their secrets.

Jeremy Paterson,ex Newcastle University and doyen of public lecturers, will speak on 24 May, on the 1,880th anniversary of the death of the Emperor Hadrian in 138 AD on 'Hadrian:The Imperial Tourist'. It is a story of ceaseless travelling throughout an ever-changing Empire and how this Emperor tried to rule it. All are welcome to these lectures and a donation is requested.

The following description of past lectures in 2016 is followed by the lectures in Spring and Autumn 2017 and the reader's patience is requested as he/she meanders through the story.

The Autumn 2016 Lectures were held as usual on Thursdays at 7.30pm in Melrose Corn Exchange on 6, 13 and 27 October. Strat Halliday spoke on 6 Oct on the Atlas of Hillforts project in Britain and Ireland and advocated a realistic appraisal rather than acceptance of post WWII views. On 13 Oct Chairman Dr John Reid spoke on Masada and Burnswark, having recently visited Israel, and suggested that Q. Lollius Urbicus, Governor of Britain, may have used siege tactics in SW Scotland that he had learned in Palestine. 27 Oct saw Prof Ian Armit of Bradford reporting on 'Broxmouth: an Inherited Place' - an 800 year/32 generations old settlement on a limestone plug in the E Lothian plain, excavated in the 1970s but only reported on now - a feat of reclamation involving the raising of finance and gathering of personnel, which Trimontium would ache to happen here. All were welcome and a collection, giftaided where possible, was taken to help defray expenses.

The Spring 2017 Lectures had John Poulter on 27 April on 'The Antonine Wall: a revolutionary new look at the plans'; Prof Alistair Small on 11 May on 'Vagnari:Life and Death on an Imperial Estate in S Italy': we enjoyed them both. Novelist Lindsey Davis (M.Didius Falco and daughter Albia) spoke on 18 May in a packed Corn Exchange on her new book, published in April. The title is 'The Third Nero', and the subsidiary title 'Never Say Nero Again'. (A touch of the James Bond there!). Melrose Lit and Historical and a huge number of friends - 140 - supported an atmospheric evening. It had been too long since Lindsey Davis last spoke to us and - boy - did we have a Gala evening, a big attendance and a record sale of the 2017 book, and the 2016 paperback!.

On Saturday 6 August 2016 the annual outing took place from the Museum (8.30am to 6.30pm) to Bearsden, Bar Hill and Castlehill with Jim Walker in splendid guiding form and John Reid enlivening proceedings with his 'drone', which supplied images for the museum corridor screen. The 2017 August outing took in Duntocher and Old Kilpatrick and the wonderful Distance Slabs from the Antonine Wall, housed and beautifully lit in Glasgow University's Hunterian Museum, with Professor Lawrence Keppie giving a personal commentary and showing us the Blackstone Chair, once the scene of a medal won by a Trimontium Man.

Back in the Borders there are guided walks to the Trimontium site each Thursday from 5 April to 25 October, 2018 from the Heritage Centre (with wonderful views on the Walk) and tea included - £4.00 adults; £1 school children; nuclear family £10, dogs welcome, 1.30pm-5.15pm).See below. (In July and August we guide the site Walk on Tuesday afternoons as well as Thursday afternoons. We tell ourselves that it keeps us fit).

School trip about to walk to the Trimontium Roman Fort site in NewsteadIan Brown, after seven faithful and expert years, has retired from guiding a site-only walk on Sunday afternoons. Brian Mahler, Martin Neilson, Geraldine Rowley, Donald Gordon and Ian Brown, rejoining the group, continue with the full no-booking-needed Trimontium Walk at 1.30pm prompt from the Museum in the heart of mediaeval Melrose, past the Abbey and its sights to the stonemasons' village of Newstead and then round the Roman site, the 'high spot' being the views on the Leaderfoot Viaduct level, before tea in the Village Hall at 4.30pm and the return to Melrose by 5.15/5.30pm. All from Thurs 5 April, 2018 and including Tuesdays as well in July/August.

Ian Skinner is repeating his first-Monday-in-the-month Walks at Old Melrose (1.30-3.30pm), the dates being 2 April (Easter Monday) 7 May, 4 June, 2 July, 6 August, 3 September and 1 October. The £2 charge, children free, is to help the forthcoming investigation of this mysterious peninsula jutting into the Tweed below Scott's View. With suspected prehistoric and Roman traces it certainly had an early Mediaeval monastery (monks' cells) which was closed down by a Scottish king and followed by St Cuthbert's chapel on the site. Nothing can be seen above ground and investigation, with the kind permission of the landowner and dependent, as ever, on funding, is long overdue. Meet at the OM tearoom, white on green signs, off the A68 200 yards S of the roundabout at the E end of the Melrose bypass, and then at the end of a single track (care required) road.

 School groups come throughout the year, keen to enjoy the interactive Route March (Latin salutes, marching song) followed by the Museum Tour (£2 per pupil, adults free) with sword demo and costumes.Visits to schools may be arranged. Details of dates etc are made with DG on 01896 822651. In 2016 Chirnside, Lauder, Melrose and Coldingham were the early birds. Ten schools came in 2017. The whole of September was taken up with the annual Borders Heritage Festival in which all the Walks figured and the Museum was open to all comers. .

We are in the 'Premier League' of Accredited Museums and have 'iconic objects' on annual loan via the National Museums in Edinburgh from James Curle's first excavation at Newstead (1905 to 1910) - a centenary which we have been busy celebrating. His 450-page Report came out in 1911 ('A Roman Frontier Post and its People: the Fort of Newstead in the Parish of Melrose'} and there was published in January 2013 a £25 book (edited by F. Hunter and L. Keppie) under the aegis of the National Museums,with articles by experts indicating the work of the last one hundred years and the prospects for the future, as well as contributions from Trustees about the Trust and its local projects. A paperback version has now been produced by National Museums and is available from its shop and also from the Trimontium Museum. It was on sale at the ARP Archaeology Conference in Galashiels on 28 May 2016. There was a double-launch on Jan 10, 2013 in the Corn Exchange and the Ormiston, led by two of the Patrons, Lord Polwarth and the Hon Gerald Maitland-Carew and funded by a member of the Curle family. It was a wonderful day with a wonderful atmosphere which may be judged from the images in Trimontium Trumpet 27, the Trust's annual newsletter. The title, echoing Curle's own title, is 'A Roman Frontier Post and its People: Newstead 1911-2011' and there are a few copies left, which may be ordered through the Trimontium Museum. The postage itself is about the £5.50 mark but we think the book, with its 17 contributors, is worth every penny as a record of where we are in Trimontium studies and where we should be going. [As part of the Celebration we also sponsored (Dec 2010) Allan Wilson's book (BAR 519, Oxford), about the finds from Borders sites, entitled 'Roman and Native in the Central Scottish Borders' - a bible of information on artefacts and history].

Trumpet 28 came out in December 2015 (see also below), and centred on the story of how the 2nd century 228 silver denarii hoard found at Synton Hill near Ashkirk, off the A7 en route to Hawick, came to be purchased for £10,000 under Treasure Trove in a partnership between the Trust and Scottish Borders Council, for display by each partner for half the year. The hoard was prominently displayed in the Museum for the 2017 season along with the Kippilaw hoard - a total hoard of 300 silver denarii of the 2nd and 3rd centuries. Synton is still in Melrose; Kippilaw has gone back to Edinburgh, being replaced by footwear and the large Milsington Leg for 2017. Letters and Literacy is the hoped-for display in 2018

At the instigation of Dr John Reid, the Chairman, the Trust fund-raised and commissioned Mr David Simon, Edinburgh reconstruction artist, to produce an acrylic painting of Trimontium fort in its 2nd century AD heyday environment, from the Eildons to the Tweed, and this was unveiled in Spring 2012 and used in our publicity. His Cramond fort illustration is a 'stunner' - and we think ours is too. See it in the Museum corridor as you come in. It forms the back cover of Trumpet 26 (elsewhere in this website) and it has begun to feature on our new site info boards.

As indicated above we hold three lectures in the Autumn and three in the Spring.  Autumn 2013 had talks on the excavation at Camelon; how the Roman army was supplied on campaign (by another army of non-combatants and animals); and the fascinating details of how the filthy 228 denarii were cleaned by the Scottish Conservation Studio and made ready for display.

Dr Reid carried all the Spring 2012 Lectures on his own shoulders in a veritable 'Treiduum' - a play on the Latin word for a period of three days. His first, on April 19, was on Burnswark in SW Scotland and he queried whether it was the scene of a training exercise (a Benbecula) or indeed a massacre (a Masada) ordered by Hadrian to quell one of the most rebellious parts of the province, which required an Expeditio Britannica of troops from the Continent. Slingbolts used here, some containing poison, are unique in the Empire. Dr Reid excavated at Burnswark in Summer 2015 with startling results, to be published soon.

The 2013 summer outing brought some forty members and friends to see Risingham fort off the A68 en route to Hexham Abbey and the 'Reiter' stone (horse and rider). A talk on such memorials by Dr Reid led on to rounding off the day with our old friends at Vindolanda.   

Walter Elliot, our past Chairman and famous fieldwalker and 'finder', awarded in 2011 the prestigious Dorothy Marshall Medal for his voluntary work over fifty years produced 'Divining Archaeology' (£10), the story of his many years of 'dowsing', which lays down challenges to archaeologists and is proving popular with diviners (available now at £2 from the Museum). His second volume of 'Selkirkshire and the Borders', from 1603 to the present, is full of good stories and costs £25 from good booksellers.

If you would like to know more of what we got up to last year you can catch up with the highlights or have a look at our news items, once we make time to put them on. A look at Trumpet 27, our latest Newsletter available on screen, is a good start. Trumpet 28 came out and we were grateful to Angus Ferguson for his invaluable help in wedding the images to the text. Trumpet 29/30 was issued at the end of 2015 with the aid of Angus Ferguson and Keith Hanson and a copy at £2 (postage on top) can be obtained from the secretary.

Trumpet 31 covered 2016 and can still be obtained from the Hon Secy, as can some of the others, on request. Trumpet 32 will have to be compiled soon (Dec 2017).

Other forthcoming events may be found on our News page, as and when, in this busy life, we can make time to put on the details.