Arbeia Fort was built by the Romans around 160 AD, at short distance from Hadrians wall performing an important role in patrolling the northern frontier of the ancient Roman province of Britannia. It became the main supplier for the 17 forts along the wall.
The Arbeia site has been open as a park since 1880. The Roman Fort Museum opened to the public in 1953. The first reconstruction was built in 1986.
Tyne & Wear Museums manages the site on behalf of South Tyneside Council. It was the TWM initiative to build a museum and reconstructions , to develop the site and increase visitor numbers. The aim of the museum is to present the Romans in the north and archaeology to as many people as possible from all sections of society. The reconstructions are just one form of interpretation used to further this aim. The Arbeia Roman Fort and Museum is a good mix of original and copy, indoor and outdoor. Excavations are still underway at the garrison and in the adjacent settlement and visitors can take part in them.
Reconstructed are a monumental gate, a house of a 4th century centurion and 3rd century military barracks. The building plans are taken from specific buildings on the own site (they are in fact built over the remains). Where possible evidence for the superstructure is taken from evidence from excavations on the site; then from similar buildings elsewhere in Britain; then similar buildings from elsewhere in Empire. On site activities include workshops and living history events with Roman soldiers.