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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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Week 8
Check out Justin's Twitter post this morning, and the photo attached. The ditches and sarcanon's wall (robust squared stonework that lies just under the aqueduct) are amazing! So Justin says the ditches are part of the Antonine annex. That's Period VI-A. And obviously the aqueduct up on top is for the vicus/bath-house, that's Period VII. So is sarcanon's wall Severan, VI-B?

And if the ditches are Antonine, then I guess that means that the causeway that was also found under the aqueduct is Antonine?

Week 8
And another nice set of pics from sarcanon this evening after the first day's dig. Here's a selection of them:

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Northern part of Site 4a, looking south, showing progress on sarcanon's wall underlying the aqueduct

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Newly deturfed extension of southern part of 4a, looking east

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'Anaerobe Gulch' facing southeast

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Site 7c, facing roughly west -- trench is being extended to the south

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'Broad view of Trenches '4a' and '4b', facing south-east. In mid-view, Andy and Justin are discussing the feature at their feet, uncovered very late in the day, which is as yet unknown, but might possibly be a well.'

A full day of digging with no rain?? Can it be?

Week 8
Got a great set of photos from sarcanon yesterday showing the site on a sunny day just prior to the beginning of Week 8. Here's how things looked before the fun started back up this morning!

First, updated plan:
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Here are sarcanon's shots
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This is the set of 3 trenches Badger had many commentaries on last week. Labeled 7 a,b,c in the plan. From SE corner of 7c looking NW. The far westerly (7a) seems hopelessly filled with groundwater at the moment. The nearest, 7c, seems to have a "rectilinear feature" in stone. No word on date/era -- though it looks like at best foundation stones. 7b, disappearing off to the right of the pic, is high & dry. Early days on that trench.

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From west edge of 4a looking east-ish across all of 4a, b, & c. Badger's 'Sunny Valley' is dead center. 'Colonial Corner' is to top left.

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This image shows the current state of the mid-section of 4a, from S edge of 4a looking N. The western edge of what's left of the aqueduct. This is the natural clay subsoil with the deep cuts into it. Apparently an interesting place with a lot of confusing stuff going on.

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Where 4a & 4b meet, a view of the aqueduct with Severan causeway stones visible and ditches being explored. Apparently there are 2 ditches here, both north-south, both probably of different eras. Maybe one Antonine (Period VI/VI-A) & the later one Severan (Period VI-B)? Confused about this.

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This shot from same location but looking SE across "anaerobe gulch." If you look at the turf line right where the edge of the trenches are, to the left the turf rises as it rolls over the vicus road. To the right, it slumps in the middle, subsiding into the backfilled Severan/Antonine ditches underneath.

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From the south of 4b looking north, showing the work being done to make sense of the ditch(es) in this area.

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4a at the north, looking south. Substantial stonework with nice edges uncovered here, lying under (and thus presumably earlier than) the vicus aqueduct.

Thanks much for the pics! Hope Week 8 is a great one.

Area of Excavations 2012
END of WEEK 5
(April 30 - May 4)

Sealed ditches, gorgeous roadways, a Severan causeway, and an enormous mystery slab lifted. Week 5 brought a lot to the table.

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Early in Week 5 the buzz was about an enormous flagstone found in area 1b. It was thought it might even be the top to a late burial. But when the heavy equipment lifted it up... only more soil lay below.

But the real energy & news came from west of the modern pathway, in areas 4a, b, & c. 4c revealed great cobbling and high-quality drainwork on a north-south vicus (Period VII) road. In 4b, the road continued. Underneath it and just slightly to the west was a sealed ditch from an earlier period, likely Severan (Period VI-B). At 4a/4b this earlier ditch ran directly underneath the eastern edge of the vicus aqueduct. Remarkably, diggers found there a causeway edged by beautifully squared large stones. The causeway -- built when the earlier ditch was in service -- provided the most solid ground for the later aqueduct to follow.

Diggers working down into the tops of the earlier ditch in various places found twigs and other organics -- signs of good anaerobic preservation. Unfortunately they also found that Vindolanda's legendary underground watercourses were filling up their trenches almost as fast as they could dry them out!

Lastly, down the aqueduct a bit to the west, diggers came down onto a rarity at Vindolanda -- natural clay subsoil! And cut into that subsoil was a number of lines and curves. An enigma carved into an enigma.

Big thanks to snowglobe for the images & details. All can be found at the Week 5 page!

Spotlight On...
A different take on the "Spotlight" today -- The weekly site reports over at the 2012 Digger's Journal are getting an average of 925 page views per week. And if you discount poor measly Week 3 (why no love, sad week?), the average is 1029 views per week!

Thanks much for helping to make 2012 so far the best & most informative season on WeDig ever. Can't wait to see how the rest of the year unfolds.

- Harry

Popularity of word "Vindolanda"
So I just learned about Google Ngrams. Google has a database of all the words in all the books it's been scanning in. You can type in a word, and instantly see a graph of how popular that word is over time. Here's "Vindolanda":

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Until 1914 (I think that's the year?), the name of the fort was mis-remembered as "Vindolana." Then the famous dedication slab was found, the one written by the vicus civic leaders that gave the actual name "Vindolanda."

But from 1914 to the 1960s it didn't get much play in literature -- largely because the site was still being called "Chesterholm." However, with the beginning of the modern digs, the popularity went up, peaking in the mid-80s when the first translations of the Vindolanda Tablets hit the bookstores. Then after tapering, the name keeps getting big bumps every time a new excavation report is published. So.... can't wait for that next excavation report!!

Anyway, Ngrams -rocks- and I see myself wasting many hours on it in the near future.

Week 7 reports
Awesome skull! So it's certain that the ditch you're working in is one of the pre-Hadrianic ones? That's pretty fantastic. Help me out with the orientation -- I assume the trench is running northish/southish, making it probably the western defensive ditch of one of the larger early forts. Is that right?

Area of Excavations 2012
More week-by-week catchup.

END of WEEK 4
(April 23 - April 27)

Bulldozers and backhoes to start the week and open up many new swaths of land to the west of the visitors' path (areas 4a, b, c). Continued work to the east at 1a & 1b. A lot of wet weather to contend with, but much progress.

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The week began with mechanical excavators removing large sections of turf, including a huge area just to the east of the large vicus storehouse known on-site as "Site XI." Once diggers got into it, "4c" on the plan above, they quickly revealed the southward continuation of the excellent north-south roadway discovered in 4b.

Area 4a was lengthened, and diggers spent much time dropping down slightly into early vicus layers, uncovering cobbled surfaces, many earlier beam slots, and various ditches & features from the 2nd Century occupation. South of the vicus aqueduct in 4a, evidence emerged of a wide north-south ditch; and immediately underneath the aqueduct was a well-laid stone causeway running over the ditch. (The aqueduct was laid directly on top of this earlier causeway, obviously looking for the most level, solid ground.) Ditch & causeway probably from the Severan period, which came immediately before the Gauls arrived and built the vicus.

To the east, there was some excitement at the eastern edge of 1b, where just outside the 3rd Century bath house the base plinth to an altar was found in situ. Sadly the altar was long gone. But much work continued in 1a and 1b exposing circular features, areas of cobbling, and wall remnants.

A wet week with the dig called off frequently, but much done. Big thanks again to maryb_10 for the pictures and site reports, which you can read here!

How to get a Vindo fit body?
Gardening!

A couple weeks before the trip, pick an untouched trench-sized plot of land, and turn it into a new veggie garden. The kneeling, grime, boulder removal, tilling, repetition, etc. will wake up all the muscles you'll be needing at Vindo. ;)

Week 6
Brilliant, brilliant pics! Thanks tons for all of those. The detail is amazing. And the more I see of the Gauls' work, the more I admire the Severans who came before. That Severan causeway sitting under the Gauls' aqueduct couldn't be a better contrast.

A day out
I really can't tell you how happy those dress-up pictures make me!

Area of Excavations 2012
Continuing the catch-up:

END of WEEK 3
(April 16 - April 20)

Week 3 was another drizzly, soggy slog. But much was done, including removal of large swaths of turf around the old aqueduct and to the NE of the storehouse (areas noted as 4a and 4b on the plan below):
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4b revealed more excellent cobbling representing a north-south vicus (3rd Century) roadway at the western edge of the main settlement. The far western bit of 4a revealed a deep, well-sealed early ditch (anyone know the period/age of this?), as well as a lot of clay and another Victorian field-drain pipe.

To the east of the footpath, closer to the bath house, work continued in areas 1a & 1b, and apparently around area 2 as well. But no reports on what was found there. As the rain continued, it seems that work was slowly shifted ever westward and toward higher ground.

Many thanks to maryb_10 for the great pictures and notes, which can be found here!

Week 7 reports
Amazing! Such great shots & update. I've got my site-plan catch-up work cut out for me. At this rate by August they'll be opening trenches outside Causeway House!

What the One Can Teach the Other
My other passion of studying modern flotsam & ocean pollution often crosses with what I've learned from digging (and watching) at Vindolanda. Just got another article published in "Scientific American" that happens to draw lessons pulled from the trenches just this past week!

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2012/05/14/time-to-can-the-round-numbers/

People say, "Why do you spend money to dig in mud for weeks and wreck your clothes & joints, and then not even get to take any of it back home at the end??" Reason #127. It's all related.

Area of Excavations 2012
This will be the week for catch-up of the week-by-week digging progression!

So, back to that long-ago...

END OF WEEK 2
(April 9 - April 13)

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The wet weather was already setting in, and the flooded trench marked #5 on Week 1 was left fallow, along with #3 across the E-W path. Meanwhile, to the west, the area around the aqueduct (#4) was expanded, and a very nice cobbled road surface was found in area 4b.

Work continued on areas 1 & 2, with walls, hearths, pottery dumps, and beam slots coming into view. Many thanks to snowglobe & Sue Munro for the details & ton of great pictures, which can be seen here!

A day out
One of my must-do's that I never seem to do! The only outpost fort I've visited is at Bewcastle, and it's more noted for its Norman castle & Anglian cross than the Roman lumps & bumps.

Week 6
More great pics! Glad you were able to salvage something of the day. And exciting to see barrel/bucket bits!

So 4b & 4c are juuuuuust about to meet up, and then ... gosh, what to call the one out to the west of 4a? I think instead of extending the "4" madness to 4d, this new plot will get "7." Will try to work on the new plan over the weekend.

Week 6
And also 3 great shots from Pauline of the state of things yesterday before the deluge. Beautiful images of how the Period VI-B Severan ditch and causeway lay under the Period VII vicus road and aqueduct.

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Week 6
Rain, rain, go away! Another batch from snowglobe on yesterday evening's jaunt up Barcombe Hill, and the swimming pools that were once trenches.

The first 5 from Wednesday:
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"Great walk with Mike tonight onto Barcombe hill, lots of interesting new theories to add to last years ramble. Rather cold and rainy."

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"It's the closest I can get to an Aerial shot! If you look closely you can see my trench filling up."

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"Looking over to the diggers hut, round feature now pumped out again."

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"The North South road is a thing of beauty, hope it will be preserved in in some form?"

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"Andy's test cut into the later ditch through the Severan large ditch provokes some discussion."

And the state of affairs today:
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"No digging today very heavy rain and trenches filling up with rain"

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"Looking up the Severan road/river!"

Week 6
I'm remiss! Another great set of "action shots" (or, by mid-day "inaction shots"?) by Terry & Pauline from Day 2, here: http://opa.cig2.canon-europe.com/s/m/B8N8mMACu7x

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