A NEWLY-FORMED charity is looking to breathe new life into one of South Tynedale’s hidden gems.

The well-preserved Roman fort of Epiacum is situated high in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, between Alston and Slaggyford.

Dating back almost 2,000 years, the Scheduled Ancient Monument has never been excavated – but is split in two by a Victorian field wall that experts say needs to go. To do just that, the Epiacum Heritage charity is currently organising “Operation Jericho” to remove the 150m wall and allow visitors to view the monument below.

Stewart Ainsworth, landscape expert with Channel 4’s long-running Time Team series and now Professor of Landscape Archaeology at the University of Chester said: “Epiacum is one of the best preserved forts in the Roman Empire.

“You can see the outlines of almost every building in the interior, even though it’s never been excavated by archaeologists.

“But until this Victorian wall has been taken down, it’s impossible even to walk from one side of the fort to the other. Put bluntly, the wall just needs to go.”

The charity is currently looking for volunteers to undertake Operation Jericho and the challenges that come with excavating an ancient monument.

The operation is currently scheduled for September, and will take 14 days at a cost of £10,000. A crowdfunding page opened on July 1 and will run for six weeks to raise the money needed.

Landowner Elaine Edgar said: “Epiacum has the potential to be a key visitor attraction within the North Pennines AONB, but at the moment it’s still a hidden gem.

“We still need volunteers to sign up for September, and cash to keep them all hard at work!”

Donations can be made at www.justgiving.com/campaigns /charity/epiacum-heritage/
operationjerico, while volunteers can get in touch via Epiacum Heritage’s website.