Lockdown loan secures future of Roman fort trust

A trust which is carrying out archaeological research on Hadrian’s Wall has secured a £300,000 Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan which will help it survive through the lockdown.

For 50 years the Vindolanda Charitable Trust has preserved and carried out digs at the Vindolanda Roman Fort in Northumberland.

The trust normally welcomes 150,000 people every year to explore its history but the restrictions on non-essential travel meant it had to close its two sites and museum, leading to the furloughing of 37 of its 46 staff.

It predicted it will turn over just 30% of its 2019 figure of £1.5m, and after reducing its overheads, the trust approached Lloyds for a loan.

Dr Andrew Birley, chief executive and director of excavations at The Vindolanda Trust, said: “This is normally our busiest time of the year but we’ve been forced to close our doors until it’s safe to reopen.

A ring dating back to the third century inscribed with the words “mum” and “dad” (Owen Humphreys/PA)
A ring dating back to the third century inscribed with the words “mum” and “dad” (Owen Humphreys/PA)

“We estimate that there’s several hundred years left until the sites are fully explored.

“Thanks to Lloyds Bank, we now know that we can continue our excavation work once the lockdown is lifted and welcome back visitors to learn about this important time in our history.”

Paul Watson, relationship manager at Lloyds Bank, said: “The trust works to support a historical site of global importance and protecting sites like this is essential if we want to continue learning about our history.”

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