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From Aug 2006 - Nov 2013 WeDig provided a live forum for diggers & fans of Vindolanda. It has now been mothballed and will be maintained as a live archive.

Here you will find preserved 7 years of conversation, photos, & knowledge about a site many people love. Vindolanda gets under the skin. (Figuratively and literally as a volunteer excavator!) It's a place you remember, filled with people you remember!

Thanks for 7 great years!

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A 200-Year History of Archaeological Discovery at Vindolanda

The remains you see when you wander across modern Vindolanda weren't built in a day, and weren't excavated in a day! In fact, scientific exploration has been going on since the early 1800s. (With of course some gaps along the way.) This page will help you unfurl the long history of Vindolanda's excavation, leading up to the site as it looks today.

To view, simply hover your mouse over any of the dates in the right column. For more information about each date, press and hold the mouse button on top of the date.

Please note, -much- more has been discovered than is currently visible. In places, several forts lie on top of each other, going down to a level of 15 feet or more. This page doesn't attempt to uncover every layer of the dig, just what can be seen by a visitor strolling the grounds today.
Vindolanda over time

1815The Rev. Anthony Hedley, an avid antiquarian, buys the land holding Vindolanda.
1830cRev. Hedley hires workmen to reveal the north, west, & east gates of the latest fort, and the northeast corner.
1833Rev. Hedley reveals much of the east wall. Sadly, he dies young, before making a report from his notes. His friend, Rev. John Hodgson, manages to compile a few pages & line drawings.
1914Workmen uncover Vindolanda's main well on the western edge of the site, including an inscription finally proving the name of the site as "Vindolanda".
1930Prof. Eric Birley buys Chesterholm and begins first earnest excavations of the fort and vicus. He uncovers again the west and north gates, part of a structure near the east gate, and a presumed storehouse in the vicus
1931Prof. Birley's team reveals part of the west wall of the latest fort, including an angle tower in the NW corner, and a stone-lined drain along the north of the vicus.
1934Prof. Birley & Dr. Ian Richmond excavate the latest fort's principia, or headquarters, and also reveal a stretch of the north wall.
1935Prof. Birley & Dr. Richmond uncover the rest of the north wall, as well as the first of the enigmatic circular buildings that lay beneath.
1969After a few decades of intermittent small-scale trenching, a young Robin Birley begins earnest excavation in the vicus. He uncovers the odd praetorium (commanding officer's residence) of the short-lived Severan period. However, at this early date, he believes it to be a public mansio, or inn for travelers to the vicus. His teams also excavate near the well to the west and uncover large watertanks and other water-related features.
1970The Vindolanda Trust is formed, and large-scale excavations of the vicus continue. The large military bath house, the so-called "corridor house," and various other buildings are found.
1971Excavations in the vicus continue. Many of the true vicus buildings are excavated away, leaving the Severan barracks below them on display. Again, at this early date the relationship of the Severan fort with the later civilian vicus isn't understood.
1972Excavations continue eastward and southward. At the south-east end of the vicus, it's discovered that much earlier forts still lie intact more than a dozen feet down. The first writing tablet will be recovered from these deep levels in early 1973.
1976After a few years exploring (and then backfilling) the deepest layers of the site, work again continues on the vicus. Excavation reveals much of the town between the bath house and the edge of the visible fort.
1985After a slowdown, work resumes, though mostly centers on the deepest layers, leaving few new visible discoveries at the surface. Excavations carried out in about 1980 within the NE quadrant of the visible fort are backfilled. At some point between 1976 and 1985 more detail of the remains of the vicus buildings are revealed and consolidated for view.
1997After many decades of negotiation, governmental heritage bodies allow resumed excavation within the visible fort. Part of the latest praetorium (commander's house) is revealed. (The years 1985-1989 and 1991-1994 were spent in deep levels just to the west of the visible fort. Thousands of artefacts -- including hundreds of writing tablets -- and dozens of structures/rooms are discovered. But little changed at the surface.)
1998The remainder of the praetorium is revealed, including an east-west facing building with an apse, built on top of the flattened remains of the building. This is interpreted as a 5th or 6th Century church. This is the strongest evidence yet for life continuing at Vindolanda after the end of the Roman period.
1999A long stretch of the southern wall of the visible fort is revealed, including a large toilet block at the southeast end.
2000The rest of the southern wall of the visible fort is revealed, including late structures built into its ramparts. More of the enigmatic Severan-era "roundhouses" are found below the foundations of the fort wall. Out of view just to the south of this picture, Vindolanda's earliest bath house is discovered and put on display. (*** In version 2.0 of this progression, I'll rescale to be able to show it fully. ***)
2001In the far northwest corner of the site, a Romano-Celtic temple is discovered. It appears to be a late 1st-early 2nd Century building, demolished a century later and used as a burial site.
2004This period again sees much work in the deepest levels under the vicus, leaving only an enigmatic late 2nd Century wall visible at the surface.
2005Most of the remaining section of western fort wall is revealed. Also, in the far west of the site an area of workshops and a temple district are uncovered and consolidated for display.
2006The very last covered bit of Vindolanda's fort wall is revealed for the first time in 1500 or so years. More of the workshop area in the west of the vicus is uncovered and put on display.
2008The latest fort's sturdy granaries are uncovered, along with sections of barracks just to their north. At least two post-Roman homes are found as part of the discovery, including one whose owner, "Riacus," carved his name on his front step.
2009Most of the NW quadrant of the latest fort is excavated and revealed. This area includes two back-to-back barracks, and an extremely surprising temple built into the rampart of the north wall.
2010The rest of the NW quadrant of the latest fort is revealed, uncovering a third barrack, and impressive remains of the main road leading from the north gate to the principia (headquarters).
2011Diggers removed overlying layers, revealing two of the 3rd Century barracks north of the granaries in their entirety. Each had 8 apartments with a ninth block at the north being the centurion's suite. Outside the fort in the vicus, a new extramural building was excavated along with a curious & very strong rampart wall on the western fringe.
Hover your mouse here to see a hands-free progression of the site.