So what did the Romans ever do for us?
The new Trimontium Museum will open its doors on Monday, August 2, on what is widely considered to be one of the finest collections of Roman military objects on display anywhere in the UK.
It's a remarkable achievement by the Trimontium Trust, following years of dedication, fundraising and planning.
The £1.4 million project of transforming the old museum space in the Ormiston building in Melrose has been a success, following support and donations from multiple organisations including the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Scottish Borders Council, Live Borders, South of Scotland Enterprise, the Scottish Government, National Museums Scotland and Museums and Galleries Scotland.
The story of the most important Roman fort north of Hadrian’s Wall is fundamentally intertwined with the history of the indigenous people who shaped the landscape for centuries before the Roman invasion, and who for more than three hundred years alternately collaborated with, then resisted, the might of the world’s first superpower.
Alongside aspects of the Roman occupation that are well understood are riddles revolving around the constant cycle of construction, occupation and destruction of the Roman fort. One of them is the puzzle of the many pits discovered at the Trimontium site, more than 100 of them, containing all kinds of Roman material from skulls and bones to armour and weapons, helmets and swords to everyday cooking utensils and personal objects.
Why the Romans should abandon and conceal so much valuable material on their departure remains one of the enduring mysteries of the site.
The new museum could be the perfect place to ponder such questions as you peruse the treasures within. The facility is certainly a big hit with Trimontium Trust chairman, Dr John Reid
He said: “The new Trimontium Museum is a shining example of the energy and passion of trustees, patrons and volunteers who have worked for many years to share this important period of our history with the wider public.
"We are delighted to have been supported in this venture by our partners and funders, without whom this would never have been realised. We look forward to welcoming visitors from near and far to experience the treasures and mysteries of our past.”
Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for culture, sport and wellbeing, councillor Euan Jardine, added: “It is fantastic news that this expanded and refurbished museum will reopen next month and I am delighted that the council was able to support this project through financial and in-kind support.
"The reopening comes at a crucial time in our region’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, with tourism able to drive significant economic benefits in our towns and villages across the Borders.”
And Live Borders curator Shona Sinclair added: “Live Borders sees the phased re-opening of a number of our museums this month, and the launch of Trimontium adds an exciting addition to the regional visitor experience.”