Hadrian's Wall Charity Launches Fundraising Appeal

10th January 2014

The Hadrian’s Wall Trust has launched a fundraising appeal aiming to ensure the Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site’s survival for future generations.

Linda Tuttiett, Chief Executive of the Hadrian’s Wall Trust said: “Following severe funding cuts over the last two years we need to raise a minimum of an additional £170,000 a year to continue to meet the standards which are essential for the protection of the World Heritage Site and to maintain and develop visitor management.

“The budget for the maintenance of the Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail suffered a major reduction this year and now also needs additional support. We are determined to maintain the Trail in excellent condition.

“The World Heritage Site is a national asset which attracts visitor spend of over £880 million per year to the north of England. We want to give more people better access to all the World Heritage Site has to offer, from west Cumbria to Tyneside.” 

The charity’s fundraising programme centres on the ‘Adopt a Stone’ website www.adoptastone.co.uk where people can adopt virtual stones in a virtual Hadrian’s Wall. Larger donations qualify for one of 162 turrets and even larger ones for one of 80 milecastles.

“We’re asking everyone who cares about Hadrian’s Wall to help if they can by adopting part of the Wall,” said Linda Tuttiett. “The website is fun to use with a small army of Roman characters, it’s informative about Roman sites along the Wall and it has a serious message.”

Several other ways to make contributions have been set up too, from collection boxes at local businesses and mobile giving by text to sponsorship and legacies.

The Trust has begun to tap into funds for specific projects protecting heritage at risk such as the SITA Trust funded work to conserve and consolidate 1,200 metres of Hadrian’s Wall, also supported by the Cooperative group and the National Trust, which is removing some key sites from English Heritage’s Heritage at Risk register.

This work is being carried out by Greenhead-based stonemasons Heritage Consolidation and Hexham-based Kevin Doonan Architects, with archaeological support from Alan Williams Archaeology.    

Work at Burtholme Beck, just north of Lanercost Priory, on this project has revealed a superb example of part of the wall which has not been damaged by stone removal or otherwise altered, except by time and vegetation growth.  It includes herringbone masonry standing up to seven feet tall in places. It is in poor condition and under threat from the growth of trees and scrub.

The Trust has appointed Tyne Valley Woodlands to undertake a tree survey and the recommendations are currently being implemented. They are cutting back the hedges and have started removing diseased limbs and reducing the crowns of some of the larger trees. The tree work will help stop potential damage if trees blow over and the roots dislodge the masonry. Discussions with the landowners are ongoing to decide on the best methods to consolidate the wall and reduce damage from livestock. It is hoped that sections of the wall will be left exposed once consolidation is completed and other sections exposed from the scrub clearance will be ‘soft capped’ with turf.

The Trust is installing new interpretation panels for sites along the Cumbrian coast and a bike tour booklet and cycle hire scheme have been funded through DEFRA’s Rural Development Programme for England.

The Trust also partnered with Cumbria County Council, Sustrans and the Solway AONB on the recently completed off road extension to the Hadrian’s Cycleway between Allonby and Maryport, funded by RDPE.

Thanks to a specific donation the Trust is undertaking a two year excavation project at the Roman settlement in Maryport extending knowledge of life on the Roman frontier and promoting this part of the world heritage site. The Maryport civilian settlement, next to the Roman fort Alauna, is the largest currently known along the Hadrian’s Wall frontier.

The Hadrian’s Wall Trust works with partner organisations, farmers and landowners, tourism businesses, communities and volunteers to help maintain and develop the heritage and landscape as UNESCO requires for continued accreditation as a World Heritage Site, and markets the frontier as a premier heritage and eco-tourism destination nationally and internationally in association with VisitEngland and VisitBritain.

40% of the Trust’s enquiries for Hadrian’s Wall are from overseas. This means at least 250,000 potential international visitors per year are looking for information about the Wall. 20% of actual visitors are from overseas, most are from the USA and Canada, northern Europe, Scandinavia, Australia and New Zealand. Growth in visitors from France, Spain and Italy is strong with growth from long-haul markets such as China, Asia and the South American countries showing how widespread around the world interest is in our World Heritage Site.

The Trust also helps local partner organisations such as parish councils and the Roman sites in bidding for a range of additional funding for their own new projects. 

Linda Tuttiett said: “We need to establish a funding stream to maintain the Trail and the monument in a sustainable and secure manner, retaining the experience of the team.

“One of the projects we want to set up is a system for long term monitoring of the condition of the monument.  Called Wall Watch, it will help us monitor the impacts of visitors and of climate change and enable us to identify what we can do to mitigate the effects of these - spotting problems before they become really serious and need major repairs.

“The World Heritage Site is 150 miles long and at the moment there is no proper monitoring system in place due to lack of funds. We want to involve local people as volunteers, providing them with training to assist professional staff. It could be a great way of getting more people involved in looking after the site but we need funding to get it off the ground.

“Another problem we need to address is the ongoing erosion of earthworks that form part of the World Heritage Site.  Everyone thinks of Hadrian’s Wall as a stone wall but in fact much of the monument is made up of earthworks such as the vallum, the turf wall that preceded the stone wall, and the ditch north of the Wall – these parts of the monument are affected by visitors and by livestock.  We need to work with farmers to find the best ways of managing these sites.

“We also want to be able to work much more effectively with local communities and local businesses but do not have the staff capacity or resources to do this.  The World Heritage Site is not something to be preserved in aspic. Local communities and businesses need to benefit from it, and this needs to happen in a sustainable way to ensure the site itself is protected in the long term.  We want to help businesses be aware of the opportunities and how best to take advantage of them and encourage more people to enjoy this amazing site whilst ensuring its protection for future generations.

“We’re aiming to raise £20 million in total to secure the future of the Wall and reinvest much over the next 10 years. That would be a great cause for celebration in 2022, the 1900th anniversary of the building of Hadrian’s Wall.”

Over the last five years the Trust has led on over £15 million investment into the World Heritage Site helping to make it a world class visitor destination.

The Trust receives some funding from key partners English Heritage, Natural England and local authorities in Hadrian’s Wall Country.  Specific projects are being carried out through grants from different sources, for example DEFRA’s Rural Development Programme for England and the Heritage Lottery Fund. The rest of the Trust’s activity is thanks to the support of people and businesses who share the same passion for Hadrian’s Wall. 

The Adopt a Stone website has been designed and built by Newcastle-based creative communications agency Keltie Cochrane.

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On the approach to Birdoswald.
Heritage consolidation work on Hadrian's Wall.