Welcome Guest [Log In] [Register]

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!

Glossary of Terms


anaerobicWithout oxygen. Vindolanda's writing tablets (and other organic material) survived because they were buried in anaerobic conditions.
AntonineGenerally, the era from Antoninus Pius (AD141) through Commodus (d. AD192); used in terms of Periods VI through VI-A.
brackenA rough fern common in the local landscape often used as a carpeting/bedding in rooms of the various forts.
CerialisThe prefect of the Period III fort, whose personal records were found during excavations.
gloopThe wet, sticky, usually smelly clay and organic materials discovered via excavation in deep trenches. Usually evidence of anaerobic conditions prior to excavation.
iron panA naturally-occurring material nearly as hard as concrete, formed when water with iron shavings in it passes through soil, oxidizes, and solidifies. Often found in workshop drains.
laminateTerm for layered bracken carpeting found in anaerobic layers at Vindolanda. Often packed over a foot deep.
limitaneiLate term for border/frontier units in the Roman Empire. Usually low-paid, lower-skilled. Vindolanda Period VIII and IX garrisons were likely classed as limitanei.
MagusanusChief god of the Batavians (who called Vindolanda home in Periods II & III).
naturalRoughly, the zone or layer in which no further 'man-made' activity is present. Once a trench hits the 'natural,' there's usually no point digging any deeper.
rampart(1) In the early timber forts, the rampart is the earth/clay mound on which the timber palisade sits. (2) In the stone forts, the rampart was a clay/earth mound built behind the stone walls as buttressing & support.
SeveranRelating to the unorthodox Period VI-B fort built during the reign of Emperor Septimius Severus.
Stone Fort IThe first stone fort built on-site during Period VI-A, also called the Antonine fort.
Stone Fort IIThe visible stone fort, originally built c. AD213.
subsidenceThe tendency for the soil of a backfilled ditch to dip down into the ditch over time. Early ditches on-site can be detected through the subsidence of the layers above.
viaLat. 'road'--not necessarily paved!
vicusTerm for the civilian settlement that often grew up outside of a Roman fort's walls.


beckTerm for a small tributary stream in Cumbria, as in Cam Beck; comes from Old Norse.
broughsettlement, pronounced "bruhff" in Wall Country, as at Brough-by-Sands or Newbrough.
burnTerm for a small tributary stream in Northumberland, as in Haltwhistle Burn; comes from Old English.
haughlow-lying riverside meadow, as at Humshaugh. (pronounced "hawff")
Thirlwallname of medieval castle on line of Hadrian's Wall, ~4 miles west of Vindolanda; probably also one of the names for the whole wall in early medieval times. "Thirlwall" is early-Middle English, meaning "Pierced Wall," either from locals knocking bits of the Wall down, or because of the old milecastle gateways still visible when the name was coined.