*** DEBUG START ***
*** DEBUG END ***

Auckland Castle owner acquires ancient Roman settlement

26 September 2014

DAVID PETTS/DURHAM UNIVERSITY

PLOTS of land containing one of the most significant Roman settlements in Britain have been sold by the Church Commissioners to the trust that owns Auckland Castle, the neighbouring former home of the Bishop of Durham.

A £2-million bid from the Auckland Castle Trust for the Roman fort at Binchester, on the banks of the River Wear, in County Durham (News, 5 September), has been accepted by the Commissioners. The head curator of Auckland Castle, Dr Chris Ferguson, said that the settlement would now be protected for the nation.

The Commissioners have always said that the Roman remains were never under threat, despite being split across two plots, because, as the site is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, it is a criminal offence to damage, demolish, or alter it without permission from the Secretary of State.

Dr Ferguson said that the Trust would now seek to work with English Heritage and Durham County Council to make the Roman settlement available to archaeologists and tourists.

Earlier this year, it was announced that a third-century silver ring - which, because of its inscription, could be the earliest evidence of Christianity in Roman Britain - had been discovered at the site of the Roman fort.

Jonathan Ruffer, who chairs the Trust, became interested in Auckland Castle because of its collection of Zurbarán paintings, but now owns the whole castle site, which he intends to develop into a tourist destination (Features, 12 July 2013).

When the Commissioners declined an initial "multi-million-pound" offer for the Binchester site before the auction deadline had elapsed, Mr Ruffer launched a campaign to reverse that decision, gathering thousands of signatures in an online petition. He said that development could ruin the Roman fort.

The Commissioners have now accepted his £2-million bid for the plot of land which contains the ancient settlement.

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Awards Ceremony: 6 September 2024

Read more details about the awards

 

Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available

 

Inspiration: The Influences That Have Shaped My Life

September - November 2024

St Martin in the Fields Autumn Lecture Series 2024

tickets available

 

SAVE THE DATE

Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website

 

Visit our Events page for upcoming and past events 

Welcome to the Church Times

 

To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)