Longovicium was an auxiliary fort on Dere Street, in the Roman province of Britannia Inferior.
The fort is estimated to have been built later than the other forts on Dere Street, around 150 AD. There is evidence it was rebuilt around 230/240 AD and again in the early 4th century. A construction slab identifies the Legio XX Valeria Victrix (Twentieth Legion) as having built the fort.
The fort was an estimated 160m by 140m in size, and accommodated approximately 1,000 troops. Geophysical surveys by archaeologists have discerned the location of the headquarters buildings, a bathhouse and barrack buildings. The fort was occupied from 160 until 400 AD and there was the an associated civil settlement (vicus) associated with the fort, with buildings on both sides of Dere Street.
Longovicium is also interesting in having a copious water supply, from two aqueducts, one of which was fed from an impounded source to the west. The dam harnessed the water of 21 springs and was 20 feet high and 110 yards in length, being stone faced and clay lined on the inside. Despite not being on the scale of those supplying cities, the Longovicium aqueduct was nevertheless a significant feat of engineering, being considered one of the best preserved aqueducts in Britain.
The Friends of Longovicium society, Durham County Council, Durham University and Newcastle University have recently been working together with the owner of the lands on which the fort is situated to eventually open the area for the public, turning it into a tourist attraction. Possible excavations are also envisaged. The project is currently worth a couple of million pounds, funds which the County Council is pursuing through the English Heritage
Getting to Longovicium
Longovicium is located just southwest of Lanchester in the English county of Durham, roughly 8 miles to the west of the city of Durham. The fort was situated between Ebchester, and Binchester on Dere Street, the main Roman road linking York with Hadrian’s Wall. It is about 20 miles south of the wall, and was built on high ground with clear views around the site.