The Roman Fort of Epiacum lies at the heart of an unspoiled, archaeologically rich landscape with features from prehistory through to post-medieval.

In 2012 an English Heritage LiDAR survey revealed evidence of continuous human habitation through 2000 years. Trenches will be excavated to identify earthwork features suspected to be from various periods within the same field next to one bastle house. These test pits excavations will inform the site’s research framework and forthcoming audience development and sustainability plans.

The dramatic fort of Epiacum, surrounded by the best preserved ramparts and the Maiden Way. Cred: Elizabeth Hunt

The site has good anaerobic preservation and in Victorian times produced Roman leather items similar to those found at nearby Vindolanda, in addition to carved altars and pottery. Recently molehill finds have included glass and jet beads, a bronze dolphin and evidence of metalworking.

Epiacum Heritage Ltd is a small non-profit organisation which was set up by Elaine Edgar, whose husband and son farm the land. She was soon joined by renowned archaeologists who are also keen to help everyone discover, share and enjoy the heritage of this remarkable landscape. Early in 2017 Epiacum Heritage Ltd secured a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Resilience Fund to test ways of becoming a more sustainable operation. Selling tickets is one way we are trying to move from being 100% volunteer run with only a few hundred pounds annual donations, to an organisation which can plan ahead and complete more research in the future.

Location of dig: Epiacum Roman Fort, Castle Nook, Alston, Cumbria CA9 3BG
Region: North East / North West
Time Period: Multi (Roman and poss medieval)
Accommodation provided: no
Level of experience required: none
Does this dig earn academic credit: no
Extra on-excavation activities: Family weekend 23rd & 24th Sept, Guided tours on some days, Support the dig as an Armchair Archaeologist – £15
Age limit: Children 6-16 welcome at the family dig weekend
Dates: 23/24 Sept – Family Weekend (Accompanied children welcome), Main dig days – 23/24 Sept and 27 Sept – 1 Oct
Contact name: Elaine Edgar, Yvonne Conchie
Contact address: Castle Nook, Alston, Cumbria, CA9 3BG
Contact telephone: 01434 382080
Website address:
Social Media: Twitter – @epiacum, Facebook – Epiacum (Whitley Castle)