Mansio at Arbeia, South Shields

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Photo: © Judith King

The Mansio

THE MANSIO  is a contemporary project initiated and led by Hexham Book Festival and Arts&Heritage

Hexham Book Festival and Arts&Heritage present a bespoke and innovative mobile venue, the centrepiece of an exciting project that will tour important urban and rural sites along Hadrian’s Wall during the summer of 2016.

The Mansio has its roots firmly based in place and history and will be brought to life in a series of geographical locations that are rich with internationalism, social and architectural heritage. Hadrian’s Wall is considered to be the most important monument the Romans built in Britain.

Teeming with soldiers from all over the world, it would have presented a moving mass of people, animals, food, commodity, language, literature, music and the arts in general – a vibrant and linear seam of society. Hadrian’s Wall was the most heavily fortified border in the Empire and in addition to its role as a military fortification many of the gates through it would have served as customs posts to allow trade and levy taxation.

Roman mansios were the official stopping places that were found on the newly established Roman roads. They were maintained by central government for the use of officials and those travelling on official business, acting as meeting places, places to stay, teahouses and reading rooms.

Our Mansio will become a ‘place of rest’ for visitors, a touring tea-house where the public can experience contemporary art, literature and video in a bespoke twenty first century ‘building’ within an important historical and geographical context. Stopping at internationally significant sites including the roman forts and townships at Hexham, Arbeia, Vindolanda, Senhouse, Walltown Crags, Birdoswald and Carlise Castle.

The Mansio will present an extraordinary sight amongst the ruins and it will remind us that, for all its apparent fixity, both built space and the natural environment are in constant motion and both are readapted and reimagined by those that find themselves there. Designed by architectural practice Matthew Butcher Associates it has been described as a ‘mobile ruin’ and will start its tour on April 22nd 2016 in Hexham, Northumberland.

Authors involved are: David Almond, Colette Bryce, Kathleen Jamie, Hollie McNish, Ben Myers, Daljit Nagra, Malachy Tallack and Lemn Sissay

For more details of the tour, authors and structure please visit
The Mansio has been principally funded by Arts Council England Strategic Touring Funds.