Roman fort on Hadrian’s Wall given to the nation

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The fort at Carrawburgh is one of 16 along Hadrian’s Wall. Image: English Heritage
The fort at Carrawburgh is one of 16 along Hadrian’s Wall. Image: English Heritage

On first inspection, Carrawburgh Roman fort seems unremarkable. But what lies below is anyone’s guess.

Now, thanks to a donation by a Northumberland landowner, the fort is the latest addition to the collection of sites owned by English Heritage.

Carrawburgh is one of 16 forts along the 118km Hadrian’s Wall. The frontier, built around AD 122, was responsible for defending the Roman Empire from northern tribes.

Carrawburgh housed a garrison of approximately 500 soldiers, mostly from south-west France and later southern Belgium.

It sits between the cavalry fort at Chesters and the infantry outpost at Housesteads. Nearby is the temple to the god Mithras, built by soldiers at Carrawburgh.

Cared for by Jennifer Du Cane’s family since 1950, the landowner decided to gift the site to the nation.

In private hands for many years, the fort has undergone little archaeological investigation, unlike most other sites along the wall.

Legal ownership has now transferred to English Heritage as part of its National Heritage Collection, which includes sites such as Stonehenge and a Cold War bunker outside York.

Commenting on the donation, 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.’

‘It has the potential to contribute significantly to our knowledge of the Roman Empire and to visitor enjoyment of the Wall,’ he added.

This article was published in the March 2020 issue of Military History Matters. To find out more about subscribing to the magazine, click here.

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