The blueprint for a £10.7 million centre aimed at luring thousands of new visitors to the heart of Cumbria in pursuit of the world’s finest collection of Roman Army religious sacrifices has been officially revealed.
Hadrian’s Wall Heritage have submitted a planning application for the Roman Maryport development, a “world-class Roman visitor attraction” at Camp Farm.
Their designs aim to herald a continuous programme of live archaeological excavations on the historically-lucrative soils of the Victorian model farm and former fort, attracting 55,000 visitors a year and creating 78 jobs in the region.
"This key heritage development involves the restoration and conversion of the historic farm buildings into galleries and visitor facilities, and will significantly raise the profile of the west coast of Cumbria as a destination worthy of visiting to a large audience for whom the area is as yet unknown,” predicted Michael Baker, of the Hadrian's Wall Heritage group.
"There will be rich, varied and complementary interpretation emphasising the relevance of the story of Roman Maryport to us today - what is it like to live on a frontier, to be an occupying soldier, to live in an occupied country, and the meeting of different cultures.
"We are hopeful that Roman Maryport can be open for the start of the main tourist season at Easter 2014."
The new museum will host the Senhouse Roman Museum’s Netherhall Collection, a deluge of religious dedications which have been critical in feeding historical knowledge of the Roman Army across the world.
Other works include a new road to link the site with the town and safer access routes for visitors.
Paul King, of lead consultants and architects Capita Symonds, said the existing buildings were in a “poor and derelict” state and in “urgent need” of “extensive repair and consolidation.”
"As far as possible we propose restoring the existing Victorian buildings and keeping as much of the original farm layout as possible,” he added.
“New buildings - such as the accommodation for archaeologists - and site landscaping will be in keeping with the existing buildings.”
The first floor of an existing two-storey dovecoat will be used as a bat roost under the plans, relayed by CCTV to allow wing watchers to observe brown long-eared bats in their natural habitat.
A major archaeological investigation of the site was launched in May 2011.
- News: Major archaeological investigation launched on Roman religious site at Hadrian's Wall Maryport