Magna Project Gets Green Light

The Vindolanda Charitable Trust has received a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £1.625m which enables a ground-breaking Roman Magna Project on Hadrian’s Wall to commence in 2023.

Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the project focuses on the impact of climate change on our cultural heritage and will have a legacy for future management of this incredibly precious ancient Roman resource.

In the last two decades the land to the north of the fort, which was historically covered by a marsh, has been rapidly drying out, damaging the covering of peat and organic soils that have formed above the ancient Roman landscape. Ancient and precious organic Roman layers are now being exposed and ultimately put at risk.

The fort of Magna, unlike nearby Vindolanda, has never been subjected to a sustained research excavation but recent geoarchaeological survey work has proved beyond doubt that Magna has some of, if not the richest, environmental deposits thus far identified from the World Heritage Site.

Magna Roman fort from the air 2020
Roman Magna

Supported through The National Lottery Heritage Fund, this project will enable a five-year research excavation at Magna Roman Fort, home to two of the most exotic Roman regiments to have served in Roman Britain, the Syrian archers and the Dalmatian mountain soldiers.

The project will also facilitate enhanced activity and engagement programmes in a new purpose-built facility at the adjacent Roman Army Museum. Tremendous opportunities for volunteering and engagement and five new jobs will also be created.

The project focuses on both climate change and celebrating the diversity of the ancient people of Hadrian’s Wall, bringing the fort of Magna alive once more. The new buildings will enable the Roman Army Museum to run many more activities and events, positively promoting the area and providing a real boost the local economy.

Archaeologist Dr Andrew Birley (left) and Penny Trichler (right) at Magna Roman fort.

Dr Andrew Birley, Vindolanda Trust CEO & Director of Excavations, said: “We are grateful and delighted that thanks to National Lottery players we will be able to deliver this ground-breaking project at our important Roman site at Magna next to the Roman Army Museum, on Hadrian’s Wall. In a year when we have marked 1,900 years since the construction of Hadrian’s Wall began, we must also look to the future to protect this irreplaceable monument for the next 1,900 years and beyond. This project will help us understand the environmental pressures our site is under and enable us to plan appropriately for its future management”.

Anne Jenkins, Executive Director, Business Delivery at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “It’s fantastic news that in the year we celebrate the 1900th year of Hadrian’s Wall, the Heritage Fund is supporting this forward-looking project from the Vindolanda Trust. Not only will this project share the diverse and untold heritage of the Magna site, but it will address the impacts of climate change on this significant archaeological site and undertake work in order to alleviate these effects.”

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