TAS NEWSFLASH | Roman Binchester at risk – please sign this e-petition


Dear TAS Members and Friends,

As many of you may already know from regional and national media coverage, the Church Commissioners are selling a number of plots in the Bishop Auckland area. Two of these, being sold separately, include the archaeological remains associated with the Roman fort and civilian settlement – now renowned for the spectacular discoveries made by the ongoing research project. Dr David Petts, Durham University, has distributed a call-to-action which follows.

The Auckland Castle Trust have not only placed a wholly reasonable bid of £2M but have also set up an online petition which takes a few seconds to complete using the link, below. Once you have signed, and you can add an optional comment too, please take a moment to share on Facebook and Twitter if you have an account. It’s easy using the share buttons on the Change.org petition page. Also feel free to forward this email far and wide. Many thanks.

Save Binchester Roman Fort

A message from Dr David Petts, Durham University

As many of you know, the Roman fort at Binchester, site of our fieldschool, has been put up for sale by its owners, the Church Commissioners. Worryingly, the site has been divided into separate lots. They owners are selling 10 lots of land (remains of the Bishop Auckland Estate) to the North and East of the town. These include Toft Hill Farm, Binchester Hall Farm, and the Bishop Auckland Golf Course (the old High Park). Two lots, Binchester Hall and Binchester Hall Farm bisect the Roman town more-or-less along the alignment of Dere Street. One lot includes Binchester Hall, the visitor car park, centre, and bath house. The other lot includes the remainder of the fort and is associated with the adjacent farm.

Worryingly, Binchester Hall has planning permission for development, which could affect public access to the Roman site. Additionally, if both lots fall to separate owners, any future access to the site, and research, would be at jeopardy.

Auckland Castle Trust have raised substantial funds to help save the fort for the nation, and work with Durham University and Durham County Council to alleviate the risk of development. However, we need for the offer to be accepted by the Church Commissioners. To help emphasise the level of local, regional and national support for this initiative, it would be great if you could raise your concerns with the Church Commissioners through our change.org petition, and helping us circulate this call via email and social media:

Images above | David Petts in the vicus bath house © Northern Echo; Pre-Constantinian Christian finger ring from 2014 Binchester excavations © Durham University.

Press and Media coverage

An assessment of the issues at stake can be read on this blog post, and in the media:

About the Binchester research programme

Information on the recent excavations led by Durham University, which are jeopardised by the proposed sale, can be found here:

Kind Regards,

Spencer Carter | TAS Chair & eCommunications

Header and footer images | Binchester excavations 2014 © S Carter.

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TAS NEWSFLASH | TAS Summer Event postponed : Festival of Archaeology begins

Dear TAS Members and Friends,

TAS Summer Event postponed
Those of you who attended the June lecture will recall that I mentioned plans for a summer event
CSI: TEESSIDE, crime scene and archaeological forensics in partnership with Teesside University. We were hoping to run this day event in late July as part of the UK Festival of Archaeology. While plans have been progressing very well, with the full support of the University, I regret that we must now defer not cancel the event until a later date in the year. Unfortunately, a medical situation has arisen which means the prime organiser is unable to complete the event preparations in time. While the issue is serious enough, involving a period of incapacitation, I am relieved to say that our organiser will fully recover. On behalf of the Committee I’m sorry for any disappointment. We will let everybody know when we’re ready to resurrect the event, preferably during a school holiday so that we can host a wide audience.


In the meantime, the 24th Festival of Archaeology runs from Sat 12 to Sun 27 July and promises an exciting range of events across our region.

The festival is the largest celebration of archaeology in the world, with over 1000 events – many free – right across the UK.

Coordinated by the Council for British Archaeology, it is run by over 400 museums and heritage organisations to offer the public a chance to have a go at digging and recording finds, watch experts at work and find out about the latest discoveries in their area. You can peruse event listings at www.archaeologyfestival.org.uk.


To celebrate an amazing summer of archaeology, with the Festival of Archaeology, CBA are running a fantastic photography competition! There are two categories: ‘16 and Under’ and ‘17+’

  • The theme for the ‘16 and Under’ category is Archaeology: A Worm’s Eye View
  • The theme for the ‘17+’ category is People and the Past

More info

Roman Binchester excavations

There are also a few weeks left for excavations at Roman Binchester – a truly amazing season this year with large trenches open around a bathhouse in the civil settlement (with walls approaching two metres in height!) and in the corner of the fort where a barrack-and-stable block is being investigated along with a latrine, ovens and corner turret. If you mention to the supervisors that you’re a TAS member, they’ll do their best to give you an in depth tour of the two areas.

There’s a special Roman Army event and open day on Sat 26 and Sun 27 July. I would also highly recommend the excellent excavation blog (web diary) at: http://binchester.blogspot.co.uk/.

More info

Next TAS Lecture

In addition to wishing you a fantastic summer, whatever you are up to, may I lastly remind you about our next lecture on Tue 30 September at 7.30pm in Stockton Central Library TS16 9HU.

Antony Dixon of Oxford Archaeology North will tell us about two quite incredible early prehistoric sites – and equally challenging excavations. The Carlisle ring road dig included Neolithic wooden tridents in a still-waterlogged ancient river channel and caused Europe to run out of plastic sample tubs. An extension to Ronaldsway airport runway on the Isle of Man had to be conducted at night to avoid aircraft and revealed, amongst many finds, a burnt Mesolithic hut (if not a village), and burning means preservation.

I look forward to seeing you in September.

Kind Regards,

Spencer Carter | TAS Chair & eCommunications