Can you imagine being stood on the edge of a frosty Roman Empire looking out over 2000 years of history?
This winter you can wrap up warm and enjoy the breath-taking scenery, fascinating forts and museums stacked full of ancient Roman finds, seven days a week.
Two major visitor attractions, located a short distance from each other on Hadrian’s Wall, will remain open daily from Monday 2 November 2015. Hadrian’s Wall itself will remain open all day, every day.
Housesteads Roman Fort, open 10am – 4pm every day until Easter, will prepare for the winter months by offering Game of Thrones fans the chance to become ‘Watchers on the Wall’ whilst they wear a black hooded cloak and stand guard on the edge of the Roman Empire. Plus, visitors will also get a chance to stock up on Christmas gifts in the unique gift shops from English Heritage Monopoly and Gladiator Spelt Beer to hand-made jewellery and replica Roman armour.
Housesteads’ sister-sites, Corbridge Roman Town, Chesters Roman Fort & Birdoswald Roman Fort are open weekends during the winter months.
Vindolanda Fort & Museum will also be open 10am – 4pm every day in November and December before the site & museum closes for one month on the 4 January for refurbishments.
Sonya Galloway, Communications Manager at the Vindolanda Trust said: “This year we have seen a significant increase in visitors to both our sites and it is not only the volume of visitors but also the feedback about how much people have enjoyed their visits which is most satisfying. Vindolanda is a truly unique Roman fort and settlement and the very personal hoard of artefacts displayed in the on-site museum enables our visitors to personally connect and engage with the past. As a result of the annual excavation programme fresh information comes to light every year and there is always something new to see. To be able to keep Vindolanda open 7 days a week so more people can come and visit is very important to us. In January we will close to undertake improvement works at both sites. On the 6th February we re-open both Vindolanda and the Roman Army Museum 7 days a week launching our 2016 season.”
The Roman Army Museum, also owned by the Vindolanda Trust, will be open weekends during November, December and has extended opening over the Christmas holiday period. This indoor venue is the perfect place to shelter from the elements and while inside you can get a Latin lesson in a Roman classroom and be taken on a journey along the Wall in the 3D film theatre. The Roman Army Museum is also closed in January for refurbishment work.
Nigel Jarvis, Chair of the Heart of Hadrian’s Wall Tourism Association said: “This is great news for our visitors to Hadrian's Wall. The Autumn and Winter periods have so much to offer, with these major attractions open, visitors can also enjoy the spectacular scenery, our Dark Skies, and special seasonal events. This initiative from Vindolanda, English Heritage and National Trust also supports accommodation providers, pubs, tea rooms and other local businesses to stay open all year round. We need to support each other to help this World Heritage Site and its community to prosper for future generations.”
This season Housesteads Roman Fort is 2% up on visitors compared to this time last year. English Heritage put this down to numerous factors.
Emily Railton, Hadrian’s Wall Marketing Manager at English Heritage commented: “We’re really pleased with the number of visitors we’ve seen at Housesteads so far this season. We’re attributing the growth to various events, including the large scale regional, national and international media coverage we’ve had from BBC Wall of Sound, the Rugby World Cup 50 days to go moment, Robson Green’s ‘Tales from Northumberland’ and The Tour of Britain. Plus, we also saw an influx of Rugby fans all the way from South Africa, New Zealand and Tonga during the recent Rugby World Cup matches.
“In September we also held ‘Hadrian’s Wall Live’ for the very first time. Hundreds of people came to Housesteads on a Saturday evening to witness a momentous battle between 80 Roman soldiers and 30 barbarians. This was a truly magical event and one that we hope to replica again in September 2016. If we want to see a year on year growth like this, then it’s important that we’re constantly reminding people that we’re here, in all our glory and that we have something new and exciting to offer them all year round.”
Both the team at Housesteads and the Vindolanda Charitable Trust will continue to document their ever-changing dramatic ruins with daily updates on their Facebook pages.