Monday, January 30, 2012

Late- and post-Roman Binchester

I recently posted about the headquarters building in Late and/or post-Roman York, and by happy coincidence the current edition (February 2012) of Current Archaeology magazine has an interesting article on late and post-Roman Binchester. Post-Roman activity at Binchester was recognised in archaeological excavations in the 1970s and 1980s, and a new excavation programme has added new evidence.


The Roman fort of Vinovia, modern name Binchester, is located slightly north of Bishop Auckland, where the main Roman road to the north, Dere Street, crosses the River Wear.

Map link: Binchester

So Binchester is north of the legionary base at York, and south of the frontier forts along Hadrian's Wall.

Brief description

The first fort on the Vinovia site was a large fort built in timber in around AD 70-80, which would coincide roughly with Agricola's campaign in Caledonia (roughly, what is now Scotland north of the Firths of Forth and Clyde). It was replaced by a smaller fort built in stone in the second century, and it is the remains of this smaller and later fort that are visible today.

The stone fort has the characteristic 'playing card' shape of a rectangle with rounded corners. Dere Street ran through the middle of the fort, and the praetorium (commanding officer's house) has been identified in archaeological excavations. A large vicus (civilian settlement) developed outside the fort and has been identified east of the fort and along the line of Dere Street to the north-west and south-east.

More at Carla Nayland Historical Fiction: Late- and post-Roman Binchester