Update 13/12/2022

Supported through The National Lottery Heritage Fund, and with your generous donations, this project will now go ahead in 2023.

The Magna 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.

Find out more by reading our press release - Magna Project gets the green light.

A unique Roman fort on Hadrian’s Wall, under the care of the Vindolanda Trust, holds some of the keys to understanding the biggest questions about the people of the Roman frontier. Magna has it all and includes half a milecastle, part of Hadrian’s Wall, the Vallum ditch, a large town, rubbish dumps and pits, cemeteries and the fort itself. It’s the junction point between three Roman roads, the Military Way, the Stanegate and the Maiden Way. The site covers an area larger than Vindolanda and has the same preservation layers of organic remains and it is now under threat from climate change.

Over half the fort and town sits on a marshy peat bog which is now drying out and the organic remains that were once safely locked away in the oxygen free or waterlogged ditches and marsh are threatened with destruction. When this happens deeply buried wooden, leather and textile artefacts will be lost forever. Acting now you can make a difference to the history of Magna, preserving artefacts and knowledge that will otherwise be lost.

Your donations will make a difference as we work towards these goals:

£2,000 You will help pay for the Vindolanda Trust to continue its detailed aerial survey of the site and environmental monitoring for the next two years. TARGET REACHED

£10,000 You will help pay for a detailed geophysical survey of the fort, vallum and town. TARGET REACHED

£30,000 You allow the Vindolanda Trust to conduct a small-scale control research excavation, for 4 weeks to test the archaeological conditions in different parts of the site.  TARGET REACHED

£50,000 You will give the Trust a platform for a larger scale 8-week excavation and assessment of the remains which will be used to build the foundation towards a long-term research plan for Magna. TARGET AIMED FOR

£100,000 You enable the Trust to run a two-year research excavation and look at the environmental and preservation threats to different parts of the site and learn more about the ancient people of Magna. The organic finds from the site will need to be rescued and carefully preserved and conserved in our specialist laboratory.

You can help support our cause by donating to this appeal. When you donate leave a comment and tell us what you are most excited about for this project; protecting the site from climate change or revealing the history of Magna!

Donate Now

May 2022 Update.

A new Magna probe array.

Magna has the same preservation conditions as Vindolanda, where thousands of organic artefacts are preserved either in waterlogged or anaerobic (reduced oxygen soil) conditions. If they are to survive into the future the extremely fragile preservation ecosystem in which they exits needs to be carefully preserved.

In April 2022 the Vindolanda Trust used the money it has raised through the Magna appeal to install a state of the art Van Walt probe array into the field at the site of Magna. This high tech equipment includes weather station, underground monitoring of temperature, PH, moisture content and the oxygen reducing potential in the soil. The probes report their findings back to a cloud based server every 15 minutes so that archaeologists and scientists can see, almost in real time, what the links are between climate change and climate events (such as drought or heavy rainfall) and the preservation conditions under the soil.

"The data gathered over the next decade will revolutionise our ability to monitor the health of the archaeology of this important part of the World Heritage Site and manage the affects of climate change on Hadrian’s Wall. The data directly feeds back into the scientific community and gives them the tools needed to model what might happen next below our feet and help with developing future management strategies on how best to preserve landscapes for the benefit of future generations". Dr Andrew Birley.

The Magna scientific and archaeology team have dubbed the probe ‘WallE’ in honour of the famous Disney robot and hope that like the hero of that film, the Magna probe data will help offer a brighter future for the archaeology of the Wall at Magna. None of this would have been possible without the incredible support of those who donated to the appeal, and the help and assistance of the scientists involved which includes Professor Gillian Taylor, Dr Jacqui Huntley, Don O’Meara and Vincent Van Walt.

Weather station at Roman Magna

If you are inspired by this project, then please help us towards our goals by supporting this appeal. The archaeologists and scientists can do a great deal with the limited resources they are given, and every donation helps us achieve our goal to Protect and Reveal Magna. 

Dr Andrew Birley, CEO and Director of Excavations, The Vindolanda Trust