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Monday, 01 September 2014

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National lottery backing for Roman Maryport project

A £3.74 million lottery bid to transform part of west Cumbria into a globally-recognised heritage site has secured an initial stamp of approval.

The first round pass for the Roman Maryport project means funding is more than likely to be won, enabling Maryport to secure a real presence on the Hadrian’s Wall tourism route.

The bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund is part of an £11m project to turn a historic part of the town into a major tourism attraction and museum. It centres on Camp Farm at Maryport, the site of a Roman fort and the largest intact civil settlement – which would have been home to more than 500 people – on Hadrian’s Wall.

The fort, which dates back to the first century AD, was rebuilt during the reign of Hadrian and is part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage site.

Yet despite being one of the most significant sites on the Roman Frontier, it remains one of the least researched – and has never been open to the public.

But now Hadrian’s Wall Heritage Ltd (HWHL) has come up with a plan that would see a major excavation of the site, while at the same time allowing visitors and tourists to watch the work in progress.

The full plans include a museum with viewing galleries, exhibitions of Roman life and a Roman farm attraction.

Having secured backing from the lottery, project leaders can now go ahead with confidence.

Sara Hilton, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) North West, said: “This project has the potential to transform this internationally-recognised heritage site.

“Although this announcement does not guarantee that an award will be made, HLF will offer Hadrian’s Wall Heritage full support in taking its application further.”

It is hoped the full £11m will be secured in time for work to start on the site in September this year. The visitor facilities are then expected to open to the public by 2012.

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