After spending decades on the Heritage at Risk Register, sections of a Roman wall located in the centre of Horncastle in Lincolnshire – the best-preserved standing Roman ruins in the county outside Lincoln – have been repaired and conserved.
Since the wall was added to the list when it was first started in 1998, the Horncastle History & Heritage Society has been campaigning to save it. After years of no success, in 2012 they began again in earnest, inviting Ben Robinson from what was then English Heritage (and is now Historic England) to visit and see what could be achieved. Working with the Horncastle & District Community Association, the team then had the wall surveyed by Dr David Watt in 2018.
After completing a detailed investigation of the work that needed to be done in order to save the wall, last year the Society was finally able to secure enough funding from Historic England to complete the required works. After several delays due to the pandemic, the work was carried out by Cliveden Conservation over the past spring and summer.
It is hoped that the wall, now it has been preserved, will continue to serve as a lasting reminder of the large 3rd- to 4th-century Roman fort of which it was once a part. This was first surveyed by William Stukeley in 1724 – when many of the original features could still be seen – and his work suggests that the fort once covered five acres of the town centre and had square towers in each corner, as well as gates in the middle of three sides, with the sections of the wall overlapping in these areas.
The final project is not yet finished, however, as Dr Ian Marsham, Chairman of Horncastle History & Heritage Society, explained: ‘The best parts of the Roman wall are not publicly accessible and have never been properly recorded, so we are excited to be working with specialists from Lincoln Conservation to record them in 3D for the first time using laser-scanning technology. It will be possible to create “fly-through” videos of the wall, or a virtual model that you can spin, rotate, and explore in three-dimensions from anywhere in the world. It’s a great example of how new technology can bring the past to life.’