Welcome to the Trimontium Heritage Centre
The Story of the Roman Capital of South Scotland
Trimontium 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 2016 is laid out here meantime.
The Museum displays are on the ground floor (the highlights are the two hoards, Synton (1st and 2nd century AD) and Kippilaw (3rd century) totalling 300 silver denarii) and there is wheelchair access throughout.
The 2016 season runs from Monday 28 March to Sunday 30 October, 2016. 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 Spring 2016 Lectures were held as usual on Thursdays at 7.30pm in Melrose Corn Exchange on 21 April, 28 April and 5 May. Chairman Dr John Reid spoke on 21 April on 'Burnswark: excavation and exhilaration' focusing on the results of the dig at Burnswark to prove that it was a real siege in Antonine times. The subsequent storm of publicity is a bonus to the Trust's work and involves Dr Reid in more lecturing and a further dig this summer. 28 April saw Dr James Bruhn of Historic Environment Scotland expand on 'Glass Bangles in Britain', showing their manufacture long before the Romans arrived and the various styles. The Bill Lonie Lecture on 5 May by Jeremy Paterson of Newcastle University was on 'Mussolini's Dream of Rome: the Dictator as archaeologist and historian'. He surprised the audience by revealing that the Rome that we see today is the re-creation of an old Rome of the Imperial era to suit the new 'Emperor's' political purposes. The general title of the series was 'Burnswark, Bling and Bombast'.. All were welcome and a collection, giftaided where possible, was taken to help defray expenses. The Autumn 2016 Lectures will have on 6 October Dr Strat Halliday on 'The Atlas of Hillforts'; Dr Reid speaking on ' Masada' on 13 October and on 27 October Professor Ian Armit of Bradford on 'Broxmouth: 800 years a settlement'.
On Saturday 8 August 2015 the annual outing took place from the Museum (8.30am to 6.30pm) to the Central section of the Antonine Wall around Castlecary. The 2016 outing is on Saturday 6 August to Bearsden, Bar Hill and Castlehill. Details from the secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01896 822651.
There are guided walks to the site each Thursday from 7 April to 27 October, 2016 from the Heritage Centre (with wonderful views on the Walk) and tea included - £4.00 adults; £1 school children; 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).
Ian Brown guides a site-only walk on Sunday afternoons from 3 July to 28 August 2016 from 2 to 4.30pm for £2.50, school pupils £1. No booking and this time please bring your own refreshments. Just turn up at the Millennium Milestone at the East end of Newstead, TD6 9DE. Brian Mahler, Martin Neilson, Geraldine Rowley and Donald Gordon 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 from Leaderfoot Viaduct, before tea in the Village Hall at 4.30pm and the return to Melrose by 5.15/5.30pm. All from Thurs 7 April, 2016 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 28 March (Easter Monday) 2 May, 6 June, 4 July, 1 August, 5 September and 3 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 and followed by a chapel on the site. Nothing can be seen above ground and investigation, with the enthusiastic 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. This year Chirnside, Lauder, Melrose and Coldingham have been the early birds. The whole of September is taken up with the annual Borders Heritage Festival in which all the Walks figure and the Museum is 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, 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 is prominently displayed in the Museum for the 2015 season along with the Kippilaw hoard - a total hoard of 300 silver denarii of the 2nd and 3rd centuries
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 available Newsletter, is a good start. Trumpet 28 has been issued and we are grateful to Angus Ferguson for his invaluable help in wedding the images to the text. Trumpet 29/30 came out at the end of 2015 and a copy at £2 (postage on top) can be obtained from the secretary.
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.