‘Please, help us save Horncastle’s Roman wall’

An artist's impression of how Horncastle's Roman wall might have looked in the third or fourth century of the occupation
An artist's impression of how Horncastle's Roman wall might have looked in the third or fourth century of the occupation

Campaigners battling to save Horncastle’s Roman wall have been told they need to raise another £2,000 towards vital conservation repairs.

In 2018, a condition survey outlined the work required to save one section of the wall behind the town’s Community Centre and in St Mary’s Square.

In December last year, a team of local volunteers – spearheaded by the town’s History and Heritage Society (HHHS) – applied to Historic England for a grant to cover 90% of the £107,770 cost of the work.

Since then, volunteers have been working hard to raise the 10% match funding needed to secure the grant with guided tours, talks to local groups, a ‘Sponsor a Stone’ campaign and online ‘crowdfunding’.

The target of £10,770 has been reached, with almost £2,000 worth of stones being sponsored by local people and groups.

Grants and donations have also been gratefully received from organisations including the Pilgrim Trust, Horncastle Town Council and ELDC’s councillors’ community grants.

But the volunteers have now received a setback with Historic England confirming, that as with many complex building projects, the cost of the conservation work needed will be greater than initially thought.

As a consequence, a further £2,000 in match funding will now need to be raised.

Apart from the extra funds, the wall again features on Historic England’s annual ‘Heritage at Risk Register’, published last week.

The Government’s heritage advisors have also increased their measure of threat to the wall’s future – raising it to the second most urgent ‘Level B’ where there is an ‘immediate risk of rapid deterioration or loss of fabric’ and a ‘solution has been agreed but not implemented.’

With regard to a solution, members of the History and Heritage Society have been working with the Community Centre who are custodians of the wall’s most ‘at risk’ section.

Chairman of HHHS, Dr Ian Marshman, said “It’s such a shame to see Horncastle’s Roman wall still on the ‘at risk register’ after all the hard work of volunteers and the tremendous support we have already received to raise over £10,000.

“We are looking to apply for further small grants to try to make up the shortfall, but I’d appeal to anyone who was thinking of sponsoring a stone but hasn’t, to pick up a form.

“Every donation makes a difference, particularly as we can ask Historic England to contribute an extra £90 for every £10 donated.”

The wall is nationally important and is protected by law as a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a Grade I Listed building, making it as important as Lincoln Cathedral or Stonehenge.

Why the wall was built remains a mystery. One theory is that it was a part of defences built on or near the East Coast in the latter stages of the Roman occupation (third or fourth century) to deter Saxon raiders.

•To ‘Sponsor a Stone’ for £10 collect a form from Horncastle Library, the Community Centre or download one online from www.horncastlecivic.org.uk