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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!

Area A (Andy's Team) Granaries - 2

This thread picks up from "The Granaries (1)". As mentioned, the western granary was full of surprises! Hopefully this thread will reveal at least a few of them.

The photo below shows a view from mid-June.

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This was taken after the full boundaries of the western granary were revealed (marked out by the deep excavation trenches). In the end, only its eastern wall was well-preserved (the wall with the well-carved, beveled stones seen in the previous post). Except for bits of the northeast and southeast corners, the other walls were almost completely robbed away in antiquity. However, multiple floor levels survived.

The paving running the length of the foreground is the excellently preserved "Via Principalis." This was one of a Roman fort's main roadways, connecting the major lateral gates with the Principia (headquarters) in the middle of the fort.


The picture below was taken at the beginning of July.

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There is a lot happening in this one small image. What you're looking at is, in effect, the way that this site looked at the very end of its life. And an interesting life it was! An attempt at a description below.


The color-coding here will hopefully help explain.

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Over a lifetime of two to three centuries, the granary saw many changes. It was periodically rebuilt and reformatted as time went on. It burned to the ground at least once, possibly twice. In the end, it served a purpose very different from how it started.

The light blue shaded section in the front-left shows a bit of the original flagstone granary floor. There will be much more of this floor visible further below.

What's far more interesting in this picture are the red and purple areas to the right. The purple area shows the remains of the floor level of the last known structure built on the old granary platform. The red area shows the newly added wall of this structure, including its door threshold and steps. This would have been the northern wall of this late building, with everything to the left (north) now an open-air, external area. (Remember, the original granary had burned and crashed down, so what would have been the roof was long gone.)

So when was this last building constructed? Quite likely after the end of Roman rule, after 410AD (the era known on-site as Period X). At any rate, it's quite clear that it was in use many decades into the 5th century. Perhaps even later. It's yet more evidence that Vindolanda continued to exist as a settlement of some kind for long after the end of Roman rule. It's thus a very exciting find.

The yellow shaded area shows a late, outdoor cobbled surface, related to the post-Roman building. When the original granary roof came crashing down, the weight of the debris battered the floor, smashing the flagstones and leaving huge dips and gulleys in the floor surface. So when this post-Roman building was built, the gulleys & dips were filled in with this cobbled surface. The remains of the original granary walls probably still stood around it at some height to enclose it. (This isn't known for certain.)


This photo shows a close-up of the post-Roman wall, with a great view of the threshold and steps.

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Note that this picture was taken after the cobbled floor to the left (north) had been removed. The original granary flagstone floor is visible, showing evidence for the beating it took when the granary walls and roof crashed down on it. (Not to mention the intense heat from the fire that seems to have consumed the building.)

The post-Roman wall shows evidence of Roman masonry techniques, with facing stones backing onto a rubble core. But the craftsmanship is uneven and slipshod. It looks like the builders used whatever decent building stones could be found in nearby rubble. In short, it looks like the work of somebody who remembered Roman professional techniques but couldn't quite master them. (This is, of course, speculation, and new evidence may come up.)

The raised floor to the right (south) marks the floor of the post-Roman building. For the moment, I'm not sure there's strong evidence for what this building was used for. If any has come to light, I'll update this. Whatever it was, it was a place built with some expression of care toward its permanence and security.


This picture was taken less than a week after the picture two posts above. All the late cobbling has been removed, exposing the earlier floor.

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What you're looking at is the original flagstone floor of the Roman granary. (Except the southern section, where the post-Roman building with its wall and floor were left in place.) Again, the trench in the foreground is what -would- have been the granary's western wall, if it hadn't been robbed away.

Later in the excavations, this floor was recorded and removed in order to learn what was underneath. It turned out that no underfloor vent channels were found. That makes the construction of this granary quite different from the eastern granary. It suggests they stored different kinds of goods, though this is unconfirmed as yet to the best of my knowledge. There is the possibility that this was a warehouse for goods such as oil and wine -- which would certainly have intensified the fire that eventually destroyed it!


So as you can see, from the time this granary was built, in the early 3rd Century, to the time when it was finally abandoned in the 5th/6th Century, it had quite a storied life. Or rather, lives.

Keep in mind also that these granaries were built on top of the buried remains of half a dozen earlier forts, ranging all the way back to the late 1st Century. There are no plans to excavate them for the foreseeable future, but they're there, waiting.