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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.