What is Scheduled Monument Consent?
Scheduled Monument Consent or SMC is the permission from Historic England and DCMS that allows us to excavate on a scheduled moment, which the site of Magna fort is. To get permission we have to put forward our reasons for excavating and why we want to explore these particular areas and what we hope to learn.
Why are we excavating?
In recent years, the fort at Magna has had noticeable changes to its vegetation cover and environment. Extreme weather events, such as long periods of drying and heat, followed by intense heavy rainfall are impacting the landscape and ground conditions. Water, oxygen, and minerals are penetrating deeper into the anaerobic (oxygen free) environments. This puts the vital archaeological and environmental information held in those deposits at risk and raises new challenges for land management, preservation, and research.
What do we hope to learn?
The Magna project is designed to examine three areas of the site, from north to south, building up a profile of the way the land has been used from ancient to modern times. It combines archaeological investigation with non-intrusive survey, and it builds and improves on the previous geoarchaeological work that has taken place. The legacy of the five-year project will be an informed management plan for Magna which provides the Vindolanda Trust with the knowledge that it requires to preserve this irreplaceable landscape for years to come.
In this project, the Vindolanda Trust proposes to investigate:
- The relationship between the landscape and the layers of Roman occupation, and the ways the Romans adapted to the landscape and worked within its parameters and limits.
- The relationship between water, desiccation, preservation. In particular looking at the impact of historic farming practices and climate change on historic remains such as Magna on Hadrian’s Wall.
- The ways in which the fields of archaeology, geoarchaeology and land management can enable us to understand and conserve this precious resource for the benefit of future generations.
Where are we excavating?
The scope of the Magna research project is limited to three areas: A, B and C. When combined, these form a transect through the site, from north to south. The three areas will allow for a more thorough appreciation of water flow and historic land use, including an understanding of landscape formation, relationships, and intensity of use, from the pre- Roman period to modern days. An improved understanding of the site’s formation process is necessary for the Trust to be able to accurately quantify the levels of threat to the site, for the present and the future, and inform a meaningful management strategy.
The project will work north to south, starting in area A around the vallum diversion and milecastle 46 before moving to B (the lake side and well complex) and finally C, the site of the historic excavation of the praetorium and southern fort defences.