Roman style multicultural Britain at the Old Fulling Mill Museum of Archaeology, Durham

By Richard Moss | 27 September 2010
a photo of a bust of a bearded man in robes
Exhibition: An archaeology of race: exploring the northern frontier in Roman Britain at Old Fulling Mill Museum of Archaeology, Durham University, until January 11 2011

The Old Fulling Mill Museum of Archaeology in Durham is currently exploring the nature of race, citizenship and identity along Hadrian's Wall, when it was the northern frontier of the Roman Empire.

Based on new research by academics at Durham University, An archaeology of race: exploring the northern frontier in Roman Britain tells the stories of some of the people who lived and worked in the region during the Roman Period. 

Drawing on archaeological finds, the stories reveal a much richer, more diverse cultural heritage for the region than has generally been thought of in the past. 

One of the key characters in the exhibition is Roman Emperor Septimius Severus (193-211 AD). Severus was born in present day Libya, visiting Britain in 208 AD and taking responsibility for rebuilding Hadrian's Wall. 

During his reign soldiers came from all over the Roman Empire, including North Africa and the Mediterranean. They left behind many artefacts on the Roman frontier including African cooking pottery, seeds, gravestones, handwriting, inscriptions and gravestones, including that of Victor the Moor, a North African cavalryman of high status.  

Co-curated by Durham Geographer Divya P Tolia-Kelly the exhibition is part of a Durham University research project called Tales of the Frontier, which provides an exploration of the significance of Hadrian’s Wall and its landscape as both monument and icon from Roman times to the present day.

"We are very excited to be able to host this groundbreaking exhibition," says Curator Craig Barclay. "It casts fresh light on the cultural diversity of the North East during the Roman period."