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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!

Last Record of Vindolanda before Hedley
After John Horsley's writings on Vindolanda from 1732, nearly a century passed before the arrival of Anthony Hedley in 1814. The only record that I can find of the site in that interval comes from John Wallis, Vicar of Simonburn. Wallis wrote a two-volume treatise titled "The Natural History and Antiquities of Northumberland," published in 1769. It included a walk along the line of the Wall in his writings, with wanderings to nearby castles, manors, and sites of interest.

He is fascinating for the personal touches, and keeps a nice account of the names of landowners, tenants, and farms in the area. It's a great bit of local history in its own right. And of course priceless for the story of Vindolanda, which can be read below.

The whole of his work can be found here: http://www.archive.org/stream/naturalhistoryan02walluoft#page/n1/mode/2up



A little higher up from the military road, we have a view of the Roman station of Little Chesters, easily distinguished by the clumps of trees and brushwood in it, like natural arbours, from which it has obtained the name of The Bowers. It is of the usual form, nearly square, containing about an acre and an half ; the wall round it of earth and stone, very fair ; a pleasant flowing rill, called Bardon-Burn, washing its eastern skirts, in its course to Bardon-mill, overlooked by Barkham-hills : a deep ditch or hollow, called in this country a clugh, to the south ; one of the natural arbours large, compoaed of white thorn, birch, oak, and nut-bushes, giving a pleasant shade.

The Via Vacinalis from Caer-vorran to Walwick-Chesters comes close up to the north side of it, on which a Roman military stone is still standing, by a gate called Caudley-gate, near the brink of Bardon-streamlet ; also another a mile west from it, in a straight line ; the road very fair ; the mile-stones in fine preservation, of white rag, six feet, four inches, in diameter, and near as much in height above ground, of a round figure, like large rollers.

Some Roman shoes and sandals were digged up by Mr. Warburton, the late Somerset-heraid, which he gave to the Royal Society. A winged image, wanting the head and feet, about three inches long, was found and presented to Dr. Hunter. A Roman Hypocaustum or sudatory has been also discovered, of which the last mentioned inquisitive and industrious antiquary gives this account.
" Some years ago, on the west fide of this place, about
" fifty yards from the walls thereof, there was discovered under a
" heap of rubbish a square room strongly vaulted above, and paved
" with large square stones set in lime, and under this a lower room,
" whose roof was supported by rows of square pillars of about
" half a yard high : the upper room had two niches, like (and
" perhaps in the nature of) chimneys on each side of every corner
" or square, which in all made the number sixteen ; the pavement
" of this room, as also its roof, were tinged black with smoak.
" The stones used in vaulting the upper room have been marked
" as our joiners do the deals for chambers ; those I saw were
" numbered thus x. xi. xiii".

Roman baths were first introduced in Britain by Agricola, to give the natives an agreeable picture of a polite and well civilized community.

Fornix--et uncta popina
Incutiunt urbis desiderium.
Hor. Epist. Lib. i. 14.

A sculpture in stone of Mercury, the Custos Manium, and god of the highways, was found here ; an engraving of which, with some others, may be seen in the Britannia Romana. The mercantile part of Britain held a solemn festival to Mercury, 15 October.

Camden gives us an altar, found at this place, of A. Licinius Clemens praefectus cohortis primaes Hamiorum, dedicated to the Syrian goddess, Astarte; the reading scrupled by Mr. Horsley, but confirmed by the Greek altar to Astarte at Corbridge, in the judgment of Dr. Stukely.

In digging up the foundations of a Castellum or milliary turret, in the wall, in an opening of the precipice by Crag-Lake, called, Lough-End-Crag, or Milking-Gap, for stones, for building a farmhouse, belonging to William Lowes, of Newcastle, Esq; to the north-east of this station, a centurial stone was found by the masons, very large, inscribed,

IMP CAES TRAIAN
HADRIANI AVG
LEG II AVG
A PLATORIO NEPOTE LEG P R P R

This stone is now at Mr. Lowes's Seat at Ridley-Hall.

A large stone, in the altar-form, was lately digged up at this station, with the sculpture of a red deer in the center, leaning againft a tree, and two fawns at the bottom, in relief. It is now standing in a field on the north side of the house of Hugh Ridley, at Archy-flat, adjoining to the station, who placed it there to answer the use of a rubbing stone for cattle. It was two feet thick, when it was turned out of the ground, but he split it nearly in the middle downwards, to make it easier to remove. It is of the fine white rag, adorned with moldings.

Many stags horns have been digged up ; some of an unusual size; one, presented to me, measures round at the base nine inches ; striated lengthways, and studded with small irregular tubercles. The festival of the Roman hunters, sacred to Diana, was 13th August, when stags were sacrificed. A temple, perhaps built in honour of her, was discovered by some masons in digging for stones, some years ago, adorned with Doric pilasters and capitals, which perished under the strokes of their tools, being unacquainted with the value of such a curiofity. It was at the west end of the station.

Urns, of various sizes, with ashes in them, were found in digging by the above-mentioned Hugh Ridley, on the north side of his house ; both of fine and coarse pottery, incautiously broken by his spade ; one of them as small as a pint-mug.

In the south-west end of the Well-House, belonging to William Smith, built about twelve years ago, at the west end of the station, by the suburbs, is an altar inscribed,

MARTI VICTORI
COH III NERVIORVM
PRAFECT I CANINIVS

It is thirty-four inches long, and twelve inches and an half broad, the under part hammered off by the incurious mafons ; the inscription within a neat molding or raised border, much injured by the weather, though cut upon that durable stone, the fine white rag, found plentifully on the neighbouring moors. The festival of Mars, was in March. In the cabinet of the Revd. Mr. Walton, vicar of Corbridge, is a brafs coin struck in honour of it, Marti pacifero ; the deity in armour, helmeted ; a Parma or shield on his left arm ; a sprig of olive held forth in his right.

[n.b. - deleted long aside on Roman festivals here]

The present owner of this station is Mr. William Lowes ; his house behind it, within the manour of Henshaw, belonging to Sir Edward Blacket, of West Matfen, Bart.

Posting Pictures
***NOTE: This was originally posted in 2010, but is still relevant today. Happy posting! ***


Here is a quick guide for attaching pictures here to WeDig.

(If your picture is too large, most computers come with a simple picture-editing program. Windows has one called "Paint," which you can use to reduce file size. See down at the bottom for steps to reduce your picture size.)


To Post a Picture:

1. Go to a forum or subforum that interests you.

2a. To start a new topic, simply click the blue "newtopic" button near the top-right of the list of forum topics.
2b. To reply to a topic that you're reading, click the blue "addreply" button at the bottom-right of the page.
Posted Image

3. Whether you start a topic or reply to one, a new window will open up where you can type what you want. Immediately below the box where you type, you'll see a bar that says "Attachments". In Internet Explorer it looks like this:
Posted Image

In Google Chrome (and possibly others) it looks like this:
Posted Image

4. Simply click the "Choose File" or "Browse..." button, find the picture you want to attach, and select it. (After you select one, you'll see that you can add another if you wish.)

5. Now simply click the "Post Topic" (or "Post Reply") button at the bottom of the page. That's it! You will see your topic or reply appear, and you will see that it has an attachment.
Posted Image

------------------------------------------------------------

To Reduce File Size:

1. Open Paint (usually found in the "Accessories" folder of the Windows Start menu). Then, in Paint, open the file you want to reduce.

2. Click "Image" at the top of the screen, and then click something that looks like "Resize/Skew":
Posted Image

3. In the window that pops up, change the Horizontal and Vertical percentages. Usually 50% each works well. But feel free to experiment.
Posted Image

4. Save the file (you might want to use the "Save As" feature so you can keep the original unaltered).

------------------------------------------------------

And please, if you have any difficulty or questions at all, don't hesitate to ask. Send me an e-mail or a private message and I'll be happy to help.

Posting Pictures
Here is a quick guide for those who would like to post pictures here to WeDig but are having trouble making it work.

First, if your picture is too large, most computers come with a simple picture-editing program. Windows has one called "Paint," which you can use to reduce file size.

To Reduce File Size:

1. Open Paint (usually found in the "Accessories" folder of the Windows Start menu). Then, in Paint, open the file you want to reduce.

2. Click "Image" at the top of the screen, and then click something that looks like "Resize/Skew":
Posted Image

3. In the window that pops up, change the Horizontal and Vertical percentages. Usually 50% each works well. But feel free to experiment.
Posted Image

4. Save the file (you might want to use the "Save As" feature so you can keep the original unaltered).

OK. Now we're ready to post.

To Post a Picture:

1. Go to a forum or subforum that interests you.

2a. To start a new topic, simply click the blue "newtopic" button near the top-right of the list of forum topics.
2b. To reply to a topic that you're reading, click the blue "addreply" button at the bottom-right of the page.
Posted Image

3. Whether you start a topic or reply to one, a new window will open up where you can type what you want. Immediately below the box where you type, you'll see a bar that says "Attachments". In Internet Explorer it looks like this:
Posted Image

In Google Chrome (and possibly others) it looks like this:
Posted Image

4. Simply click the "Choose File" or "Browse..." button, find the picture you want to attach, and select it. (After you select one, you'll see that you can add another if you wish.)

5. Now simply click the "Post Topic" (or "Post Reply") button at the bottom of the page. That's it! You will see your topic or reply appear, and you will see that it has an attachment.
Posted Image

And please, if you have any difficulty or questions at all, don't hesitate to ask. Send me an e-mail or a private message and I'll be happy to help.



Mike's Geoblog
Thx again for all of this blog! It's been really fascinating & eye-opening. Like I said, I'd like to work with this winter on creating a Digger's Guide page from it so that it can have a permanent place of prominence.

And thanks for the reading list -- I can vouch for the "Ancient Frontiers" book. Really interesting, well-produced, great tidbits on where to find various formations (and the flora and fauna they attract) around the Wall.

Vindolanda Excavation Expansion
Mike, that is a brilliant and wonderful offer! My 2011 schedule hasn't gelled yet, but a mid-May visit is actually feasible. And the opportunity for a walk like that helps sweeten the pot noticeably.

Vindolanda Excavation Expansion
Amandap
Oct 11 2010, 03:34 PM
How come the survey is to be found under 'Lighter fare' and 'The Pub'?
A point not missed by Andy after I put the survey up! To be honest, the way I've ordered the forums leaves a lot to be desired. The news items at the top of the page can only be posted by administrators. And items like "Archaeology Discussion" at the bottom are far enough down that they're easily missed. One thing I want to work on this winter is forum flow. For now, the Pub seemed the best chance to get the post & poll seen!

Crosby Garrett helmet
It does make you scratch your head, how out-of-date the whole concept of "treasure" is. Rarity, beauty, craftmanship, scientific value, social & cultural history -- you'd think -that- would be the rubric!

I think it's amazing that the museum was willing & able to put up 1.7 million on such short notice. So much love & dedication to try to get it to stay where it belonged. I guess there's still a chance that the govt will put an export ban (assuming it's a foreign buyer)?

Anyway, wouldn't it be nice if there were -something- that still had value beyond dollars/pounds?

Jupiter Dolichenus
The Cumbrian helmet sold for 2.3 million pounds: http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE6962NK20101007?feedType=RSS&feedName=domesticNews. No word on who the buyer was. But it's hard to picture a local heritage body being able to come up with that price to retain it.

Edit: This article shows that Tullie House had managed to stay in the running all the way up to 1.7 million pounds, a sign of how much the people wanted it to stay put! Will be interesting to see where it goes from here.

Mansio
From what I've read, it always sounds like a public concept... something owned and run either by the military, or a town. Back when they thought that building at Vindolanda was a mansio, the books & guidebooks talked about it in terms of something the vicus maintained.

Human remains found - murder victim
reklawpete
Oct 6 2010, 01:22 PM
Just because they are old, should we really be digging up bodies if they are not in the way? I thought that nowadays that the only reason for excavating bodies was if they were going to be disturbed e.g. by house building or new roads. Would you want an archaeologist to start excavating your grandparents (if they are dead that is!) or say C19 or C20 relations?
That's the heart of it, isn't it? Does the scientific value (and that is substantial, and unique -- no mistake) override the concept of "rest in peace"?

Vindolanda Excavation Expansion
Mike C
Oct 6 2010, 05:02 AM
217 votes on what programs to run but only 35 votes on how to pay for it. Come on everyone don't forget there's two polls running & two lots of comments you can make.
It's not quite that bad. 217 votes translates into about 75 people voting, given 3 votes each. So we're at about half the people voting for a project also willing to say how to pay. But agreed, paying for new projects is rather key! The more people willing to help Andy gauge how best to resource this, the better. Please do vote in both polls!

Vindolanda Excavation Expansion Resourcing
Fiona D
Oct 4 2010, 03:27 PM
...the one thing I have found frustrating is trying to follow the progress of the dig through the following months. I have found the website somewhat confusing to navigate, and although Michael's photos have been prolific, I would have been really interested in a brief two or three sentence summary on the site every week or two.
I agree completely that WeDig still isn't where we admins would like it to be in terms of ease-of-use and regular updates through the year. The Vindolanda staff this year were exceptionally busy with all the on-site upgrades and management (the new museum, study center, hardscaping, etc.), so that made progress reports hard to pin down. And getting pictures from volunteer diggers proved trickier than usual.

The good (?) news is that we seem to get a little better each year at ironing out the kinks. Over the winter I plan to take a good look at how the site is laid out. There is a huge amount of information (especially in the Digger's Guide). But if it's not logical or easy to get to, it doesn't do a lot of good! Also, for 2011 I'm going to try to stay a little better in touch with the pro's. Hopefully I'll be able to keep an up-to-date page on where the digging is happening and what's being learned/uncovered.

But in the end, WeDig rises or falls by the efforts of diggers. As always, I heartily encourage anyone who digs at Vindolanda to send a picture or two of their trench, and whatever thoughts came to them. It's a neat ongoing record of the dig, and it's EXTREMELY helpful to enthusiasts who love watching a season unfold. I'm happy to help put up photos and lay them out so they make sense to other WeDig'ers. But it all depends on getting those posts from diggers in the first place!

Vindolanda Excavation Expansion
Jackster
Oct 4 2010, 03:46 PM
I have replied just for myself but 2 of my daughters and my husband also dig.
One of the girls would make the same choices as myself. Can she and the other 2 family members vote as well
That's exciting that so much of your family digs together! Sadly, there's no way to add multiple votes to an account or to alter poll information -- too many chances for spammers etc. to wreak havoc. But fear not. Andy wants this to be the beginning of a long discussion, an initial gauge in what the larger community wants to see. Broad strokes. If one of your choices is close to the top but misses by a vote or two, the difference won't mean that a program automatically gets the axe.

Vindolanda Excavation Expansion
Yeah, picking a limit number is tricky. It's a balance between giving folks a chance to accurately list their wishes, while also making sure that the data is robust. That is, that the choices are really what people greatly want, rather than what they think would be kinda neat. That said, I'm glad you posted a 4th in the thread! Like I say, the more feedback and input that Andy can get, the better he'll be able to gauge what the community wants.

Vindolanda Excavation Expansion Resourcing
The second of two polls on possible extras that could be added to the Vindolanda volunteering experience. Of course, every new service comes with a cost in time, resources, etc. And those need to be paid for. So we would like to know what WeDig'ers think. If you could have more things available to you, how would you best like to see them resourced? Please vote!

Vindolanda Excavation Expansion
You may have seen this great thread on possible directions for the future of excavation at Vindolanda. Following from it, Andy and the WeDig admins had a brief talk and agreed that input and thoughts from WeDig'ers would be very helpful in shaping long-term plans.

The idea is simple: Andy and the Trust are thinking of providing a wider range of opportunities for Vindolanda volunteers. However, everything is a balance between resources, enthusiasm, time, experience, etc. Some changes are already in motion for 2011. But a long-term discussion about what people would like is key to making it happen -- and getting it right.

So as a first step, we've put together a poll of some general "extras" -- things that might be made available in future years. Remember, this is the beginning of a long-term discussion. There is no guarantee that any of these will happen. But it's an effort to take stock and rethink what the Vindolanda experience is and can be. Please take a moment to make your voice heard. And if you wish, please feel free to post any specific thoughts, ideas, concerns. All input is welcome!

You may choose up to 3 items in the poll.

And please don't forget to vote in the second, shorter poll on how you would best like to see this resourced!

Human remains found - murder victim
The exact site of the cemeteries isn't known yet. They're believed to be in the southwest and northwest, due both to antiquarian resources and to geophysics work done around 2000. But the reason the locations aren't yet precisely known is simple: the Trust doesn't own the cemetery land and doesn't have permission to dig on it, yet. What's often overlooked about Vindolanda is the sheer scale of the settlement. It's possible that structures, cemeteries, waystations, etc. ran up and down for half a mile outside the fort's walls. If you look at Google Maps you can see the earthworks of practice camps about 3/4 mile to the west as well. Robin Birley is often quoted as saying that there are easily another 150 years of digging ahead for Vindolanda, and he means it!

The We Dig Vindolanda website has reproduced many of the antiquarian texts that talk about Vindolanda from the 18th and 19th centuries. It's well worth a look in general to learn the state of the ruins in the early modern period. But one in particular mentions cemeteries. In 1840 an account was made describing many funerary urns found "in a swampy part of a close to the south-west of the field in which the station stands".

One text that I haven't put up yet (but will soon) is that of John Wallis in 1769, in which he writes: "Urns, of various sizes, with ashes in them, were found by digging by the above-mentioned Hugh Ridley, on the north side of his house." Ridley's house was known as Archy's Flat. Archy's Flat was located on the north side of the Stanegate, across from what is now the entrance to the carpark. So that would place that cemetery about 300 meters to the west-northwest of the fort. You can find a complete scanned copy of Wallis's work at: http://www.archive.org/stream/naturalhistoryan02walluoft#page/n5/mode/2up

(As an aside, also in 1889 the famous "Brigomaglos" Christian stone was found in a pile of stone rubble (clearly moved from its original location and also clearly dating from long after the Roman period).)

I, too, would love to know more about the cemeteries. Hopefully I'll live long enough for the excavations to reach them!

- Harry

PS: It truly is interesting, the debate about ancient human remains in the U.S. The relationship between settlers and native Americans was handled so poorly for so long, mistrust lingers to this day. I believe in the scientific value of studying ancient remains, but I do see that the practice could be deeply offensive to some cultures. The question is whether remains from thousands of years in the past can still be "claimed" in any meaningful way. It's a debate not likely to end anytime soon.

Volunteer ID
malise mcguire
Oct 1 2010, 04:58 PM
And doesn't tend to fray round the edges..........! :)
No, we should leave that to the archaeologists! :P