Message from Dr David Petts (Durham University):
As many of you know, the Roman fort at Binchester, site of our fieldschool, has been put up for sale by its owners, the Church Commissioners. Worryingly, the site has been divided into separate lots. They owners are selling 10 lots of land (remains of the Bishop Auckland Estate) to the North and East of the town. These include Toft Hill Farm, Binchester Hall Farm, and the Bishop Auckland Golf Course (the old High Park). Two lots, Binchester Hall and Binchester Hall Farm bisect the Roman town more-or-less along the alignment of Dere Street. One lot includes Binchester Hall, the visitor car park, centre, and bath house. The other lot includes the remainder of the fort and is associated with the adjacent farm.
Worryingly, Binchester Hall has planning permission for development, which could affect public access to the Roman site. Additionally, if both lots fall to separate owners, any future access to the site, and research, would be at jeopardy.
Auckland Castle Trust have raised substantial funds to help save the fort for the nation, and work with Durham University and Durham County Council to alleviate the risk of development. However, we need for the offer to be accepted by the Church Commissioners. To help emphasise the level of local, regional and national support for this initiative, it would be great if you could raise your concerns with the Church Commissioners through our change.org petition, and helping us circulate this call via email and social media:
An assessment of the issues at stake can be read on this blog post, and in the media:
Information on the recent excavations led by Durham University, which are jeopardised by the proposed sale, can be found here: