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Durham County Council

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Binchester Roman Fort


Binchester Roman Fort gives you an insight into what life was like for the Romans in County Durham.

Aerial image of Binchester Roman Fort

Explore the impressive remains of a Roman bath house with its amazing 1,700 year-old under floor heating system. Find out why taking a bath in Roman times was about more than just getting clean! Walk in the footsteps of the soldiers around the remains of the Commander's House - see if you can find the beast of Binchester among the ruins.

Site location

Binchester Fort is in the centre of County Durham, approximately one and a half miles north of Bishop Auckland. Car parking is available on-site and the fort is signposted from the A690 Durham to Crook road, from A688 Spennymoor to Bishop Auckland road, and from Bishop Auckland town centre. Alternatively, the fort is a scenic 20 minute walk along the banks of the River Wear from Bishop Auckland market place.

Opening hours

  • Easter to end of June and all of September - 11:00am - 5:00pm (last admission 4:30pm)
  • July and August only - 10:00am - 5:00pm (last admission 4:30pm)
  • October - Easter - closed
  • Groups and school parties may be accommodated outside these dates by prior arrangement.

Background history

Binchester was once the largest Roman fort in County Durham. A small part has been excavated and is open to view and to visit. However, most of the fort and the remains of the nearby civilian settlement still lie buried in the surrounding fields.

Binchester Fort was built in the second half of the first century AD, when the Roman army was asserting its power in the North East of England. Originally, the fort was built in wood: when the Romans knew they would be in the area for a long time, it was rebuilt in stone. The soldiers in the fort didn't come from this area, they came from all over the Roman Empire. We know that a cavalry unit from Spain was here in the 2nd century AD and that a unit originally made up of Dutch tribesmen was here in the 3rd century AD.

Public excavation 2009-15

Binchester excavation project 2009-2015 is a programme of excavation which started in June 2009. This is a joint project with our partners at Durham University, Stanford University (California), and the Architectural and Archaeological Society of Northumberland and Durham. Part of the project includes a phase of public excavation which runs throughout late June to mid-July each year to which anyone can apply - assuming the funding is available. Follow the link above to the web page where you will find application details.

Accessibility

The site has been specially laid out with level access for people in wheelchairs and those with prams. An accessible toilet and parking bays are provided. The site has a shop, toilet and limited refreshment facilities.

Dogs

Unfortunately dogs are not permitted on site apart from Assistance Dogs.

Education

A school room, workshop activities and guided tours can be pre-booked in advance for school groups and small parties (up to 50).