Binchester (Vinovia) FortQuick Facts


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  • Vinovia was built along Dere Street after Governor Petilius Cerealis quelled the rebellion of the Brigantes around AD 70.
  • The fort was located where the Roman road crossed the River Wear on a spur of high ground. It was protected on the south and west by the River Wear and on the north and northeast by marshy ground.
  • The first fort at Vinovia was built around AD 75 and was the largest one in the north at 17.66 acres and held around 1500-2000 soldiers.
  • The second fort, built in stone around AD 150, was smaller at 11.16 acres and held around 1000 troops.
  • In the 2nd century the Ala Hispanorum Vettonium from Spain, a cavalry unit, was the garrison housed in the fort. This unit was known to have also been stationed at Bath, Brecon and Bowes.
  • Another cavalry unit, the cuneus Frisiorum Vinoviensium from the Frisii tribe of coastal Holland, were stationed at the fort for a substantial length of time during the 3rd century.

What Remains

  • A length of the Roman road known as Dere Street which ran through the fort.
  • A section of a very large praetorium, the fort commanding officer’s courtyard house, including substantial remains of its bath suite. This palatial complex dates from AD 340.
  • There are 88 hypocaust (underground heating) pillars still in position in the bath suite.
  • Clay bricks from the bath suite have been stamped with N.CON and thought to have been made by the Numerus Concangis, a unit based at Chester-le-Street (Concangium).
  • On one of the foundation stones that would have been below ground level there is a carving of a headless animal (could be a cat or a dog) known as the Beast of Binchester.