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1,800-year-old Roman site up for sale in Co Durham

Students dig on the site at Binchester Roman Fort in 2013 Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA

One of the most important archaeological sites in the North East is up for sale.

Binchester Roman town near Bishop Auckland is being sold by the Church Commissioners. Auckland Castle Trust say they fear it may fall into the hands of developers and have put in a £2m bid to buy the site.

But the Church Commissioners say fears of development on the site are "a scare story" and it is protected not just by the landowner but by the County Council, English Heritage and the Secretary of State.

Binchester, just outside Bishop Auckland, has some of Britain's best-preserved Roman remains, including a bath house with seven-foot walls and painted plaster.

Last year a statue head, possibly of a Geordie Roman god, was found by an archaeology student helping with major excavation works that are being carried out.

Read More: Roman artefacts found in Bishop Auckland

The 1,800-year-old carved stone head of a possible Geordie Roman god, found in July 2013 Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA

The land where the settlement has stood for around 1,800 years is owned by the Church Commissioners. They are selling 10 plots around Bishop Auckland, including two adjoining ones which cover the Binchester site.

Although the Roman settlement itself could not be developed, an old hall on one of the plots could be, affecting access to the site. Selling the plots off separately could also hamper archaeologists' work.


North Tyneside archaeological dig reveals hospital remains

Secrets uncovered during an archaeological dig are to be revealed.

A community archaeology project in North Tyneside was set up within Northumberland Park to investigate the remains of the medieval St Leonard's Hospital. Another dig in the area is due to take place this summer.

The Friends Of Northumberland Park will host a talk on the park's history at 7pm on February 4, in the Dolphin Pub on King Edward Road, Tynemouth.

Archaeologist Richard Carlton, who ran the archaeological project last year, will give an informal presentation about the dig and what was found, this year's dig and how volunteers can get involved.

Northumberland Park is currently being renovated as part of a project by North Tyneside Council to reinstate lost features and improve the park as a visitor destination.

The renovation is scheduled to be completed in autumn and is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Waggonway is 'remarkably well preserved'

The waggonway was a timber track for horse-drawn carts transporting coal from Willington colliery in Wallsend to the banks of the River Tyne where the coal would be tipped into ships bound for London.

“The wooden waggonway uncovered by the excavation is the direct ancestor of the modern standard gauge railway.”

– Richard Carlton works for The Archaeological Practice

“This is one of the earliest excavated examples of a timber waggon way, and is remarkably well preserved.

“It predates the locomotive and would have been used to transport coal wagons from Willington colliery to staithes on the banks of the Tyne.

“The last time something like this was found was in 1997 when the Lambton waggon way was found at Houghton-le-Spring - so it's very special.”

– Ian Ayris, Newcastle City Council's Conservation and Urban Design Manager

Historic railway unearthed in Newcastle

A waggonway dating back to the 18th century has been unearthed in a Tyneside shipyard. The 25 meter site dates back to 1780 and was found beneath the Neptune Yard in Walker, Newcastle.

The Willington waggonway, which was discovered during excavations, was built before George Stephenson's locomotive had been invented.

Willington waggonway Credit: Newcastle City Council


Fragments of life 4,000 years ago found on Teesside

Work to create a nature reserve near the Tees Estuary has uncovered evidence of a settlement dating back to the Bronze Age.

Archaeologists brought in to investigate the site discovered these artefacts.

Iron Age pottery, deliberately coarse to make it more robust Credit: ITV
Pieces of flint arrowheads, made of flint Credit: ITV
Pieces of jet - possibly jewellery, although archaeologists do not currently know what these were used for. Credit: ITV
A smooth jar, made of pottery, from the Iron Age Credit: ITV
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