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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!

Happy Halloween!
From Harry & Ruby (and Sam the photograper), to all boys & ghouls.

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2010 Excavation Application Is Live!
The application form for the 2010 excavations has gone live at www.vindolanda.com. Here is the direct link: https://www.vindolanda.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=27&products_id=43

Good luck, and happy digging in '10!

- Harry

New Digger's Guide section: Animal Bones
Since 2002, bone expert Dr. Deb Bennett has made an annual trek to Vindolanda to study the animal remains brought out of the trenches. An experienced eye like hers can glean amazing information from them. That info helps flesh out the story of every day life at the fort, often in remarkable detail. If you've read through one of the recent excavation reports, you'll likely already be familiar with her work!

Dr. Bennett has very graciously taken the time to write up an annotated reading guide for WeDig. I've just posted it to the Digger's Guide, where it is available for anybody interested in learning more about the animals of Vindolanda. In addition to the reading guide, she has also listed the species (both mammal and bird) currently known to have been at Vindolanda in Roman times. Finally, the guide also includes links to papers of hers that delve more deeply into the discoveries -- and forensics -- that have kept her busy at Vindolanda year after year.

Many thanks to Dr. Bennett!

If you have pictures of favorite bone finds of yours, please post them! Sandy & I had a bumper crop of ox skulls in an Antonine ditch in 2005. But alas, a hard drive crash erased those pics. :blink:

A century of tourism
The Stanegate milestone behind Vindolanda's museum has been a local tourist attraction for generations -- long before Eric Birley began the modern excavations of the site in the 1930s. Below are a few early postcards I've found recently on eBay, each a nice time capsule.

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"British Archaeology" review of Robin's new book
In the September/October 2009 edition of "British Archaeology" magazine, Dr. Paul Bidwell published a great review of Robin's recent Vindolanda book. (Dr. Bidwell led excavations in the northeast corner of Vindolanda's Stone Fort II in the early 1980s.) The review has been posted to CBA's own page. For convenience, the text is presented below as well:

Vindolanda: A Roman Frontier Fort on Hadrian’s Wall
Reviewed by Paul Bidwell

by Robin Birley | Amberley Mar 2 2009 | £16.99 | pp192 | ISBN 978-1848682108 PB

Vindolanda is one of the most famous archaeological sites in Britain. Coincidences in its siting and how its deposits accumulated have resulted in exceptionally good preservation of organic materials. Amongst the plant remains, textiles, leather and wooden objects, were hundreds of writing tablets which, as Birley states in this book, provide “brilliant glimpses” of everyday life in the late first and early second centuries AD. Others have pitched it much higher, describing the Vindolanda tablets as an outstanding addition to the corpus of written Latin and as providing a new perspective on the Roman army in the western part of the empire.

Birley can be forgiven his modesty in understating the importance of Vindolanda. It has always been part of his life. His father acquired the small estate which included the fort site and Chesterholm, now the Vindolanda Museum, in 1929. Eight Birleys, by birth or marriage, appear in this book, although since 1970 the site and its collections have been owned by a trust which includes several distinguished Romanists. This is the fullest account yet to appear of the struggles to set up the project and keep it going through disasters such as the foot-and-mouth epidemic of 2001.

The successive state heritage agencies emerge as the greatest obstacles to progress. Birley reports a much-improved relationship, perhaps the result of an irresistible force meeting a far from immoveable object. Setting aside the politics, and even bearing in mind the support of national politicians and prominent academics, the achievements of the Birleys and the Vindolanda Trust are remarkable. The account of a major research project and museum funded by income from visitors and donations should be read by everyone concerned with the management of an archaeological site.

Most of the book, however, is about the excavations. Vindolanda was an ordinary fort which has produced extraordinary finds. For most of the Roman period it was held by the commonest types of Roman military units in Britain, which combined footsoldiers and cavalry. Most of the writing tablets come from the early timber fort, occupied and rebuilt three times between about AD86 and 120. Thereafter the chronology becomes shaky until the early third century when the first stone fort was rebuilt following the arrival of the Fourth Cohort of Gauls, which was at Vindolanda until the end of the Roman period. In common with other forts in the Hadrian’s Wall zone, recent work has produced a new picture of the late Roman and early post-Roman period which at Vindolanda includes a church built on the site of the commanding officer’s house.

Birley’s account is based on a large series of reports and studies which occupy 40cm of the reviewer’s book shelves. None – with the exception of my own publication in 1985 – is a conventional archaeological report with all the finds published and related to a detailed stratigraphical description. This is no criticism of an alternative approach, widely adopted, which in effect publishes the excavation results as a series of fascicules. Unfortunately, the publication of the objects has run far ahead of the full descriptions of the buildings, about which the reader will often want to know much more. Many books could and will be written about Vindolanda. A priority must be one on its structural archaeology.

Paul Bidwell is Head of Archaeology for Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums.

Vindolanda Trust Heritage & Interpretation Project
The text below (copied from [url=www.vindolanda.com]www.vindolanda.com[/URL]) describes the scope & goals of the HLF-awarded Vindolanda Trust project. This forum will give occasional updates highlighting progress & plans for the project as it moves forward. Congrats to all who made this a success!

Vindolanda Trust Heritage Access and Interpretation Project

Project Outline Brief
The Vindolanda Trust owns two Roman sites in the central sector of the Hadrian's Wall World Heritage Site and has of one of the most important site-specific museum collections from the Roman World. The results of research have illustrated the need to remove barriers and provide improved physical and intellectual access to this resource in three key areas.

1) Archaeo-Education Centre
The Vindolanda Trust is unable to further develop its lifelong learning programmes and fully increase the educational access to its resources without the provision of a designated learning space. An education and learning development has been identified that will create inclusive and high quality provision.

It will:
* Extend and develop an existing building at Vindolanda to provide a designated learning base for lifelong learning opportunities, including a flexible learning space that can be used as a conference/lecture room, space to run archaeological workshops and work with school groups. In addition to this a small accommodation development will be included on the upper floor incorporating study bedrooms, a communal area and kitchen facility.
* Provide a small on-site low cost accommodation provision to allow low income volunteers to access Vindolanda opportunities.
* Allow volunteers who wish to support the work of the Trust but are physically unable to participate in fieldwork, to become involved through post-excavation opportunities.
* Create a new education post to enhance current provision and link the sites to encourage the widest possible use of the facilities.
* Use this new space for a new and comprehensive range of education and volunteer activities to increase access to the sites and collection.

2) Vindolanda Museum and Access Improvements
Keys areas have been identified throughout the Vindolanda site and museum for improvement to physical and intellectual access. Improving interpretation of the collection and sites for the widest possible range of users. To provide:

* A new visitor gallery for the display of heavy artefacts that are currently in storage (sculptured stone & wooden building timbers) on a ground floor area in the museum.
* Incorporate a new pottery display to release existing museum space to accommodate a new and improved writing tablet display.
* Integrate viewing areas to offer a view of 'behind the scenes' post excavation/conservation activity.
* Improve site interpretation by way of extended graphics and introduce audio provision.
* Improve the steep fort to museum path and establish an integrated physical access system.
* Improve site interpretation to enable all users to more fully understand and appreciate the heritage resource.
* Create new gallery space on the ground floor of the museum to display heavy artefacts from the collection, further increasing access to the collection to the widest possible audience.
* Link the archaeological resources at Vindolanda and The Roman Army Museum.

3) Roman Army Museum Gallery and Access Improvements
Areas have been identified throughout the Roman Army Museum for improvement to physical and intellectual access. Improving interpretation of the collection and sites for the widest possible range of users. To incorporate:

* The re-design of a large gallery at The Roman Army Museum to provide further gallery space for artefacts from the Vindolanda reserve collection.
* Ensure that the existing audio-visual programme is compatible with the new gallery space.
* Improve the uneven car park and visitor path and establish an integrated physical access system.
* Improve interpretation of the collection for the widest possible range of users.
* Extend displays of the Vindolanda reserve collections and expand information about the wider Roman context that links both sites.
* Combine this new exhibition with an extension of an existing, successful audio-visual programme to provide orientation and compatibility.
* Linking the archaeological resources at Vindolanda and The Roman Army Museum.
* Improve the interpretation to enable all users to more fully understand and appreciate the heritage resource.

This project will build on The Trust's 37 years of experience and good practice to promote increased access to the results of its work. The Trustees believe that this project for its Roman resource offers a unique opportunity for high quality and sustainable developments within the World Heritage Site.

Grant applications are now in progress for this exciting range of new developments.

2010 T-Shirt Colour Preference
Hey Justin. Not a bad idea. I waffled a bit at first -- do I risk giving too many choices or too few? I like the idea of a "run-off" vote. Just a question of whether other WeDig'ers feel like swinging by & voting a second time.

Andy says we've got to the end of January. So I think I'll leave it the way it is for at least another month or so. There will probably be a few new folks joining WeDig after the 2010 application period goes live, and I'd like them to have their say. Maybe late November we'll see what the numbers look like & whether a runoff still makes sense.

New "Digger's Guide" page: Bewcastle
Hi all. As a promise that WeDig has plenty up its sleeves over the autumn/winter months, here is a new page in the "Sites Worth a Visit" section of the Digger's Guide: http://s9.zetaboards.com/We_Dig_Vindolanda/pages/bewcastle/

Bewcastle is an excellent evening driving destination, about 18 miles NW of Vindolanda. It's got it all, Roman outpost fort, Norman castle, ancient churchyard. But most impressive is its 1300+ year old Anglian cross, the shaft still standing some 14 feet high in the churchyard. It is a true masterpiece of craftsmanship, and most definitely worth a visit. Not to mention the lovely countryside, accessible castle ruins, and simple joy of driving amid sheep and cows!

- Harry

Interesting survey on human remains & archaeology
Hi all! A newly minted archaeologist (and nearly a Vindolanda digger this year) named Hannah has started an interesting blog. It's currently focused on her York dig. But she recently added an interesting survey to gather folks' thoughts on archaeology and human remains. If you've got a few minutes, give it a look. I'm sure she'd be grateful for your thoughts & input.