In 2017, at the Segedunum Roman Fort and Museum in Wallsend, the monumental Centurion statue that marks the eastern end of Hadrian’s Wall was introduced to the public.
The eight-and-a-half-foot tall sculpture, Sentitus Tectonicus, was designed by artist John O’Rourke and fabricated by WD Close apprentices using weathering steel.
The statue establishes a connection between the site’s Roman past and its more modern industrial story. The name ‘Sentius’ originates from an inscription found close to Segedunum, which suggests that a Centurion with that name was in charge of overseeing the building of the eastern end of Hadrian’s Wall.
North Tyneside Council recruited artist John O’Rourke to create the Centurion and asked him to provide an iconic symbol to honour the site. John was hired due to the Council’s interest in his previous, well-renowned outdoor construction designs made of corten steel.
The sculpture’s design, according to John, is intended to serve as a larger symbolic statement that alludes to the past, present, and future of the North East region. His idea was to create a structure which adopted industrial materials and fabrication methods to ensure that the work’s structural and material quality forges those connections.
The sculpture contains 575 components and more than three tonnes of corten steel, the same material used in the construction of the Angel of the North. Alongside our engineering expertise, the WD Close team provided all of these materials and worked with trainees and apprentices from AIS Connect to aid its construction.
Sentius Tectonicus was handcrafted using the traditional engineering and welding skills for which the North East is famous, along with the latest advances in engineering technology. The statue will undoubtedly remain in place for as long as Hadrian’s wall itself due to the time, effort and high-quality materials utilised in the construction.
Our team was delighted to have been involved in the Centurion project. The construction of the sculpture represents the philosophy of WD Close. The project presented us with an opportunity to give back to our local community by teaching valuable skills to young people and celebrating our rich cultural history on a global scale.