High Rochester (Bremenium) Roman Fort

Picture of High Rochester Roman Fort

Grid Reference: NY830980.

Public Transport: 394, 383 and 794R (Newcastle-Edinburgh) National Express Services. Ask the driver to be dropped at Rochester.

Car Park: Free Car park

Facilities: Toilets, Shop, Cafe

High Rochester Roman Fort (Bremenium) was an outpost sited on Dere street well to the North of Hadrian's Wall. Its garrison would have included explorates (scouts) as well as a regular auxiliary cohort. Almost the entire defensive circuit of the fort is still preserved, with the remains of the western gateway being especially well preserved.

The Roman fort of Bremenium was built after Hadrian's Wall had been initially abandoned and the frontier moved further North to the Antonine wall. Bremenium along with other forts built at the same time, were mainly placed along one of the two main trunk routes leading to the Antonine Wall in order to guard the Roman supply lines. In the case of Bremenium this was Dere street which led North from Corstopitum (Corbridge), the other route was up the West side of the country from Carlisle. The role of these forts were to defend the Roman supply lines to the North and to control the inhabitants of lowland Scotland and the borders.

With the abandonment of the Antonine wall, the purpose of the Roman fort at High Rochester changed, it was now there to help police the area to the north of Hadrian's wall. The fort was eventually abandoned well before the end of Roman Britain, perhaps as early as 312AD (it was earlier thought to have been abandoned in the aftermath of the Barbarian Conspiracy of 367 AD).

The first unit recorded here was the cohors I Lingonum equitata, a mixed infantry/cavalry unit of six infantry centuries and 4 cavalry turmae. At least by the third century, the cohors I Vardullorum milliaria equitata and the exploratores Bremenienses were stationed here. The cohors milliaraia equitata was a mixed infantry/cavalry unit with 10 infantry centuries and 8 cavalry turmae. With a strength of over a thousand men, only five of these powerful units have been attested to in Britain. The other unit based at High Rochester was a scout unit, similar units existed at Risingham and Netherby (all to the North of the wall).

The fort is a short walk from the old Brigantium archaeological reconstruction centre, which closed a number of years ago - although the ruins of a reconstructed round house can be seen from the road. It was a privately owned site that was built by local craftsmen and student volunteers from the Department of Archaeology, University of Newcastle. This showed life from the Britons side with reconstructions of a farmstead, a burial mound and a Roman Burial among other things.
Unfortunately the site is now closed and the round house has deteriorated to such an extent that it is no longer safe to enter

There's a cafe at High Rochester next to the old Brigantium site, the owner is a good source of local information.

Chew Green Marching camps

8 Miles North west of High Rochester are two fortlets and two marching camps set in the bleak rugged remoteness of the cheviot hills. The A68 veers away from the line of Dere street at High Rochester, with the road following the valley before heading up to cross the border at Carters Bar.

It is possible to cycle from High Rochester to Chew Green, and it does make for a great ride on a good day. However the route does pass through the Otterburn range, which is used for live firing; so the route may be closed and it is crucial that you comply with all warnings.

On foot you can either park at Carters Bar and follow the border fence East to Chew Green (which is an extremely arduous walk over some extremely wet and boggy terrain, so don't be surprised to end up thigh deep in a bog.) Or follow the Pennine Way (park at the layby before Byrness). In either case be sure to have proper equipment and a tough walk, but you will be rewarded by a glimpse of some of the wildest upland countryside in England and may even see some of the wild goats that live in the borders.

Click here for a guide on routes through the Otterburn range Otterburn range Access.