Binchester Roman Fort
Binchester Roman Fort gives you an insight into what life was like for the Romans in County Durham.
Explore the exceptionally well-preserved remains of not just one but two bath-houses. One lies inside the fort and has one of the most intact hypocaust (underfloor) heating systems in the whole of Britain. The protective structure over this bath-house was replaced in 2018 by a more sturdy successor which features improved interpretation and decoration. The other bath-house lies outside the fort and is even better preserved with walls still standing to a height of more than two metres (six feet) above Roman floor level. Find out why taking a bath in Roman times was about more than just getting clean. Walk in the footsteps of Roman soldiers within the remains of the commanding officer's house - see if you can find the 'Beast of Binchester' among the ruins.
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.
- Adults £5.00
- Concessions £4.00
- Children £3.00 (under 4s free)
Opening dates 2019
Binchester is open every day from 1 April to 31 October, 10.00am - 4.30pm.
Groups must book in advance. Visits by groups and school parties may be available outside these dates by prior arrangement.
Note: Assistance Dogs only allowed on site.
The Binchester Guide Book tells the story of Binchester Roman Fort which began around 75 AD, over 1900 years ago. The booklet provides an introduction to the site and a visitor guide to an amazingly well-preserved site in parts where you can 'walk in the footsteps' of Roman legionary and auxiliary soldiers. You can buy a copy from Durham County Record Office Online Shop.
Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 July - Roman Festival Weekend
Roma Antiqua, supported by other elements of the Roman Army, including Barbaratus the expert cavalryman, joins battle with the enemies of Rome. See demonstrations of archery, slingstaffs, and firing of the full-size replica of the artillery catapult known as the ballista.
Visit the tented encampment and inspect the weapons, armour and equipment of Roman soldiers as well as the stalls of civilian traders and artisans. Join the guided tour of the site and be amazed by the size and importance of Vinovia and its magnificently well-preserved buildings.
Monday 26 August
Roma Antiqua, Barbaratus and assorted mercenaries return to Binchester for the final encounter of the year. Once again, there will be displays of fighting skills and weaponry.
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.
The lengthy process of recording and analysing the information recovered during the international field-school excavation of 2009-2015 (a partnership involving Durham County Council Archaeology Section, Durham University Archaeology Department and Archaeological Services, along with Stanford and Texas Tech Universities from the USA) and the cemetery excavation by Durham University in 2016-17 is now well underway. A new excavation project, funded by The Auckland Project and overseen jointly by John Castling of TAP and David Mason, DCC Principal Archaeologist, with a volunteer workforce managed by Northern Archaeological Associates began in the summer of 2018. Focused on the gatehouse in the north-east defences, this will continue in July-August 2019 and can be viewed by visitors to the site.
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.
Unfortunately dogs are not permitted on site apart from Assistance Dogs.
A school room, workshop activities and guided tours can be pre-booked in advance for school groups and small parties (up to 50).