Privately owned Roman fort on Hadrian’s Wall gifted to nation

A Roman fort on Hadrian’s Wall has been donated to the nation by the landowner.

Carrawburgh Fort in Northumberland is one of 16 along the 73 miles of Hadrian’s Wall and has been handed over to the care of English Heritage by owner Jennifer Du Cane.

The 1.4 hectare site, which sits between the cavalry fort at Chesters and the infantry outpost at Housesteads, would once have been the garrison of 500 soldiers defending the wall from tribes in the north.

The fort’s surviving structures, including the remains of its walls, lie beneath the turf and it has been investigated archaeologically less than other sites nearby, meaning it could hold undiscovered treasures.

Carrawburgh’s garrison on the edge of the Roman Empire was made up of soldiers from south-west France and later southern Belgium, and they built a nearby temple to their god Mithras.

The site has been cared for by the Du Cane family since 1950.

Jennifer Du Cane said: “It has been a great privilege, but also a serious responsibility, to own Carrawburgh Roman Fort.

“The time has come to pass on this amazing site as a gift to the nation.”

Legal ownership of Carrawburgh has transferred to Historic England, the Government’s heritage adviser, and it will be cared for by English Heritage.

Carrawburgh Roman Fort
The site has been owned by the du Cane family (Justin Minns/English Heritage/PA)

It will join the National Heritage Collection which are important historic sites, dating back to Stonehenge and as recent as a Cold War bunker outside York.

The fort is the first acquisition for the National Heritage Collection since English Heritage became a charity in 2015.

Kate Mavor, English Heritage’s chief executive, said: “This is a great start to the New Year, not only for English Heritage but for the nation who will get to enjoy this wonderfully evocative site on what was once the edge of the Roman Empire.

“We would like to thank Jennifer Du Cane for her generosity and look forward very much to welcoming the public to Carrawburgh.”

Carrawburgh Roman Fort
It is already open for visitors (Justin Minns/English Heritage/PA)

Duncan Wilson, chief executive at Historic England, said: “We are enormously grateful for this generous gift.

“Hadrian’s Wall is one of England’s most important historic sites and Carrawburgh makes a really valuable addition to our National Collection of historic properties.

“The fort represents a key part of the Roman frontier and is of outstanding archaeological significance.

“It has the potential to contribute significantly to our knowledge of the Roman Empire and to visitor enjoyment of the Wall.”

Carrawburgh Roman Fort is now open to the public and entrance is free.

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