Birdoswald is the most well-preserved of any of the 16 forts along Hadrian’s Wall. The wall here was begun in turf around 122 AD, some of which is still visible today. Then, starting in the 130s, the wall was rebuilt in stone 50 meters to the north. Today the wall at Birdoswald is the longest surviving contiguous portion of Hadrian’s wall.
In addition to the turf wall and later stone wall, visible remains at Birdoswald also include the headquarters building, granaries, barracks, and the only exercise and drill hall found in a Roman auxiliary fort.
Birdoswald was occupied from 122 until approximately 400 AD, primarily by soldiers from Dacia, now modern day Romania. The Roman policy was to recruit soldiers from people they’d conquered and then send them to faraway places. In so doing, they severed the soldiers’ connection with their homeland and reduced the number of able-bodied men with the ability to lead a rebellion. Later in the 3rd century, a second military cohort composed of Frisians, from what is now The Netherlands, was also posted to Birdoswald . Interestingly, these men didn’t live within the fort itself but occupied an adjacent settlement of wooden framed buildings south of the fort’s main gate.
.As was the case at many Roman sites, Birdoswald also included a community of native Britons composed of traders, craft workers, and the soldiers’ family members who supported the running of the fort. After the departure of the Romans, the local people moved into the fort itself and there is evidence of occupation at Birdoswald through the 6th century.