The Roman fort at Binchester lies above the River Wear just outside the historic town of Bishop Auckland (Co. Durham). Known to the Romans as Vinovia, it commanded the main road that ran from the legionary headquarters at York northwards to Hadrian’s Wall. It formed a key element of the complex frontier system that lay both sides of the Wall that marked the northern-most edge of the Roman Empire for nearly four hundred years. The fort itself was built to house a cavalry regiment in the early years of Roman control in Northern England. It housed troops from across the Empire, including Spain and Germany. It was not just a military site, a thriving civilian settlement (vicus) grew up at its gates. Today traces of the Roman ramparts and road can still be seen, and the remains of the commander’s house have been uncovered. These contain the best-preserved Roman bathhouse in Britain.
Binchester will be the site of a major new project exploring the archaeology of the fort, the attached vicus and the landscape in which they lie. Between 2009 and 2014 teams from the Department of Archaeology, Durham University and Stanford University will work in close co-operation with the Archaeology Section of Durham County Council to better understand this important site.
The fort is open to the public it will also be possible to view the excavations whilst they are in progress.
Please visit our blog for more information about this exciting project.