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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.

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.

Voted 'The Best Roman Fort to visit in Britain' by an online poll on the HeritageDaily.com website in July 2015. 

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 Saturday to the end of June: open 7 days a week, 11.00am - 5.00pm (last admission 4.30pm)
  • July and August: open 7 days a week, 10.00am - 5.00pm (last admission 4.30pm)
  • September: open 7 days a week, 11.00am - 5.00pm (last admission 4.30pm)
  • October to Easter: closed

Visits by groups and school parties may be available outside these dates by prior arrangement.

Note: Assistance Dogs only allowed on site. 

Events 2016

  • Adults £5.00
  • Concessions £4.00
  • Children £3.00 (under 4s free)

July 16 and 17 Roman Festival (part of the National Festival of Archaeology)

Roma Antiqua will be joined by other re-enactment groups to give demonstrations of Roman combat techniques and displays of weapons.  They will be accompanied by Barbaratus the Cavalryman who will demonstrate the skills of fighting on horseback in the ancient world.  All this will take place against the backdrop of a Roman street lined with the stalls of artisans and craftspeople illustrating aspects of life in Roman Britain.

There will also be site tours explaining the history of the site and its exploration including the remains of the fantastically well-preserved bath-building outside the fort.

Events start at 11.00am and are repeated at 2.00pm.

August Bank Holiday - 29 August

Roma Antiqua with its allies and foes will return to Binchester for another programme of re-enactments and displays.

Heritage Open Days - 8 - 11 September inclusive

Free entry to the site and Dr David Mason will be on hand to give guided tours of the site and show visitors around the recently uncovered and very impressive remains of the bath-building outside the fort.  

General admissions

  • Adults £3.00
  • Concessions £2.00
  • Children £1.50 (under 4s free)

Background history

Binchester (Vinovia) was founded around 80 AD and for a time one of the largest Roman military installations in the whole of Northern Britain.  About 7 hectares in size it was large enough to have accommodated a battle-group formed of several cohorts of legionary infantry and one or more units of auxiliary cavalry.  Even when it was reduced to 4 hectares around 160 AD it was still the largest fort in County Durham. 

We know from inscriptions that the garrison of this later fort was a cavalry unit originally recruited in central Spain accompanied at some point by a unit of cavalry originating from the area we now know as Holland.  The fort, which continued to be occupied down to the end of the Roman period, was accompanied by a large civil settlement around it.  People continued to live in the fort for several centuries after Britain ceased to be part of the Roman Empire. 

Public excavation 2009-2015

Binchester excavation project 2009-2015 

The fieldwork element of this project has now finished and work has commenced on the massive task of recording, cataloguing and analysing the vast quantities of finds and data recovered. The splendidly well-preserved portion of the extramural bath-building will be available for the public to view this year. 

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).