Maryport ‘Camp Farm’ could be developed

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has given the green light to Hadrian’s Wall Heritage Ltd (HWHL) to work up plans to transform and excavate Camp Farm at Maryport in west Cumbria.

Senhouse Museum - Pic Steve Barber

Senhouse Museum - Pic Steve Barber

Development funding was awarded to HWHL to help them progress their plans for Camp Farm, which is one of the most significant but least researched sites along the Roman frontier in the north of England.

The HLF first-round pass means that HWHL can now progress to the second stage of the HLF application process for the £3.75 million of HLF support, including £165,600 development funding,  that it is seeking for its £11 million project.

Hadrian’s Wall Heritage Ltd said the award was a solid endorsement of the national and international significance of Roman Maryport.

Hadrian’s Wall Heritage Ltd is the company that was set up in 2006 to help look after, protect and conserve the World Heritage Site and to increase its contribution to the local and regional economy.

The Chief Executive of Hadrian’s Wall Heritage Ltd, Linda Tuttiett, said:

“This first round HLF funding award is great news for Roman Maryport and the rest of the Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site.  This important site now has the potential to be developed as a world class museum throwing more light on the story of Roman life in Britain and the role of Maryport in the frontier system.

“This project is for the people of Maryport and we are committed to making sure everyone in Maryport who wishes to be involved can be.

“We’re now a step further in a £11 million scheme that will bring an additional 50,000 visitors to Maryport every year, spending between £3 and £4 million and supporting around 76 full time jobs directly in the Museum and the surrounding town through tourism revenues.”

Sara Hilton, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund North West, said:

“The first-round pass is an important step towards the future development of the Roman Maryport site. This project has the potential to transform this internationally recognised heritage site, by making it accessible to the public for the first time.

“Although this announcement does not guarantee that at second-round an award will be made, HLF will offer Hadrian’s Wall Heritage full support in taking their application further.”

Maryport vicus

The Roman fort at Maryport, was the focus of the Roman’s coastal defences in Cumbria.

The Maryport vicus is the biggest and also one of the most complete and best-preserved civil settlements surveyed along the northern Roman frontier.  A geophysical survey has confirmed the outline of more than 170 buildings, suggesting that over 500 people lived within the settlement.

Eric Robson, who is a board member of Hadrian’s Wall Heritage Ltd and lives in West Cumbria, said:

“Camp Farm is an exciting historical site for archaeologists and visitors alike, offering a fascinating insight both into the way the Roman’s operated in Britain and to the social and cultural life outside the forts.

“It will also show people that there was more to Rome’s northern frontier than just the Wall.  As we can see from this site, the defences that stretched down the coast from the end of the Wall at Bowness-on-Solway to Ravenglass were a vitally important part of the Roman military infrastructure in the north of England.”

Hadrian’s Wall Heritage Ltd hopes to secure the full £11m funding package in time for the work starting on the site in September 2010.  The visitor facilities are expected to open to the public by 2012.

New museum

Camp Farm Buildings - Credit Steve Barber

Camp Farm Buildings - Credit Steve Barber

The plans for the new museum include galleries examining the purpose of the northern frontier, Maryport’s role in the western sea defences, life at the fort and vicus, and themes such as religion, ethnic diversity, migration and career paths.

There will also be viewing galleries to enable people to view the parts of the dig that are underway and a Roman farm attraction.

The new museum will be home to the collection of Roman military altar stones and Romano-British religious sculpture that can currently be seen at Senhouse Roman Museum, which is next to Camp Farm.

The fort and settlement at Maryport provided most of the contents of Senhouse Roman Museum, one of the most important collections of Roman altars and sculptures from Britain, and indeed the Roman Empire.

The excavation of the site will enable this collection to be better understood.

Archaeological excavation

This key heritage development involves the restoration and conversion of historic farm buildings into galleries, where there will be rich, varied, and complementary interpretation emphasising the relevance of the story of Roman Maryport.

The project will create a continuous programme of live archaeological excavation and provide access to the archaeology of the site, creating learning opportunities for local volunteers and students and bringing together the collection and site so that they can be managed and safeguarded together.

Hadrian’s Wall Heritage Ltd also expresses its thanks to the Northwest Regional Development Agency, Britain’s Energy Coast West Cumbria, European Regional Development Fund, Cumbria County Council and the Senhouse Museum Trust with whom it is working to make the investment in Roman Maryport possible.

Further information

Options for the Development of Roman Maryport – Nov 2004 – Allerdale Council

Research document about Maryport by Durham University

The Senhouse Museum Trust Registered Charity No 516491 – Annual Report and Accounts for the year ended 31st March, 2007

%d bloggers like this: