Visit Roman history in County Durham

In 2015 Binchester Roman Fort was voted “The best Roman fort to visit in Britain,” by a readers’ poll on Heritage Daily: a reputable, independent UK online publisher of archaeology, anthropology, palaeoanthropology, and palaeontology discoveries. 

Many other Roman forts such as Hardknott and Housesteads were abandoned during the sudden collapse of the Roman Empire in Britannia; however, the vicinity around Binchester fort remained uniquely inhabited by the local population long after this time.

Binchester Roman fort and vicus (village): Vinovia/ Vinovium were strategically built on the River Wear banks, to protect the river crossing and trunk road that connected York, Hadrian’s Wall and the borderlands. 

It is estimated that the fort was built in 80CE, overlapping successive stages of constructions from an original 17-acre site, to a later smaller garrisoned fort, yet remaining County Durham’s largest Roman fort.

Following extensive excavations in the 1960’s, archaeologists discovered a stunning well-preserved bath-building, and part remains of the commanding officer’s house. The site was later opened to the general public, with an accompanying informative visitor centre run by Durham County Council.

We spoke to resident expert: Dr David Mason, Principal Archaeologist for more information,

“Binchester fort is a spectacular example of a Roman building, set in lovely countryside setting and is popular with both national and international visitors, including families and pre-booked school parties.

Visitors can see the commanding officer’s house, which include one of the best-preserved underfloor heating systems in the country, along with the recently excavated part of the regimental bath-building, which has walls still standing to a height of two metres and more. This can now be accessed through a brand-new protective cover building.

In the Summer months, we have thrilling re-enactment days, perfect for a family day-out, with nearby grassy areas for picnics.”

In 2022, it was the 1900th anniversary of the building of Hadrian’s’ Wall: making this Roman fort an area of great historical significance. The site is popular with school groups, fascinated to learn more about Roman history. 

The summer re-enactment events are fun and educational for visitors, with static artisan displays, a full-scale replica bolt-firing catapult Roman Ballista, to ancient-fighting on horseback.  

This summer’s re-enactment events are on: 15-16 July and 27-28 August

Binchester fort will be open on Saturday 1 April and open every day until: Tuesday October 31. 

Opening times: 10.00am until 4.30pm, last entry 4.00pm. The site is wheelchair and pushchair accessible and assistance dogs only on site. There are portaloo toilets and car parking available on-site. 

Please see the website for ticket prices and full directions:

T 01388 663089

T (out-of-season) 03000 267013