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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!

DealsFor.me - The best sales, coupons, and discounts for you
Book: "Hadrian's Wall 1999-2009"
Hi all. A few weeks ago I stumbled across on awesome book for any die-hard Wall fan: "Hadrian's Wall 1999-2009," compiled by N. Hodgson, Hon. Secretary of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. It's a complete summary (with full bibliography) of all the past decade's work carried out along the Wall frontier. Air photography, geophys, excavations, a nice presentation of some current debates & questions. Lots of maps, plans, surveys, etc. It was put together ahead of 2009's "Pilgrimage of Hadrian's Wall," and is really a polished & well-put-together piece of work.

It's not an introductory text. But it's great for folks who have a basic grasp of the Wall, forts, milecastles/turrets, the Vallum, etc. There's of course an excellent summary of work at Vindolanda over the past decade, including some interesting tidbits on the enviro sampling done in the granaries. Got my wheels turning, and I'm looking forward to hunting down some of the more in-depth papers listed in the biblio.

Anyway, you can buy or get more info about it at: http://www.bookscumbria.com/cgi-bin/trolleyed_public.cgi?action=showprod_3240 or http://cwaas.org.uk/cgi-bin/site/main.pl?action=book_hadwall.

A virtual walk around Pompeii
OK. So Pompeii isn't exactly northern England. But Tim "Badger" found this link, and it's pretty awesome what Google's been able to do: Google 3D Map of Pompeii

It's a 3D virtual walk up and down street after street of the town and through the forum. Just amazing to be able to sit in a livingroom and "wander" at your heart's content. I've never yet been to Pompeii. Always wanted to, and now want to even more.

Doesn't take much imagination (though probably a few more camera shots) to envision a similar stroll along, say, a 73-mile frontier, with the occasional diversion to a certain Stanegate fort along the way.

A Christian Inscription from Chesterholm
It's well-known that a community survived at Vindolanda long after the end of Roman rule. Some amazing recent finds have driven the point home! But the first evidence was discovered well over a century ago. In Archaeologia Aeliana, Series 2, Volume 13 (1889), the legendary J. C. Bruce announced the chance discovery of the now-famous "Brigomaglos" stone. His report is below. (You can read it in its entirety, including a follow-up comparison of a similar stone found in Scotland, at http://www.archive.org/stream/archaeologiaael18unkngoog#page/n452/mode/2up.)

A Christian Inscription from Chesterholm ;
by Dr. Bruce, V.P.
[read on the 27th November, 1889].

I have great pleasure in introducing to the notice of the Society the fragment of a Roman inscription differing in character from any that have previously come under our notice.

Mr. Blair and I when accompanying the party of excursionists of the British Association to the Roman wall, noticed, as we hastily passed the station of Vindolana (Chesterholm), a heap of stones lying in front of the kitchen door of the cottage there. We saw that one of them was inscribed, and that the letters had a Roman aspect. Being unable to bear it away with us we sent word to Mr. Clayton that the stone was there, as well as another, having carved on it in bold relief the figure of a boar, the badge of the twentieth legion.

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Mr. Clayton had them brought at once to Chesters, where we subsequently took the opportunity of examining them. The letters on the stone are very boldly cut, though ruder than usual. The inscription is —

(hic) iacit
. . . . . CVS.
‘Brigomaglos lies [here].’

The letter W in the first line has doubtless been intended for an M (in short, the one is but the other upside down), and the first letter in the second has been intended for an I, though it has a horizontal stroke at the bottom giving the appearance of an L turned the wrong way.

The inscription being new to me, I sent a copy and a paper impression of it, to Professor Hubner of Berlin, who has written largely upon inscriptions of this character.

In his reply to me he gives a full description of the stone, which it will be sufficient for our present purpose that I transcribe.

‘The other inscription, that of Vindolana, is a sepulchral one [of] the sort I have collected in the Inscriptiones Britanniae Christianae. I do not positively affirm that the man was a Christian, but the name Brigomaglos is a British one like Brohomaglus1, Senemaglus1, Vendumaglus1, etc., used in the inscriptions from the fifth century downwards. HIC IACIT (for IACET) is the usual formula in these sepulchral inscriptions. Line 3 may have contained another name of the deceased or his origin. This is the first stone of the class found in the North, except the Scotch Catstane from Cramond, though several have been found in Wales. From the form of the letters and from the termination of the name OS instead of VS, I am disposed to think it is of a relatively high antiquity. It differs sensibly from the pagan Roman inscriptions of the same epoch.’

On making enquiries at Chesters respecting the spot where this stone was discovered, I was told that it was found at a short distance to the north-east of the station of Vindolana, and had apparently been removed from its original position for the purpose of forming part of the materials used in the construction of a raised carriage road long since abandoned. A few days ago some repairs being required in the cottage at Ohesterholm, this and some other stones were gathered together for the use of the masons, when fortunately the value of this inscription was detected.

Doubtless Christianity was brought to Britain by the Christian members of the Roman army. We have some negative evidence of its diffusion in Roman times in the stones found in the Roman stations ; and the historic page yields us some direct evidence in the accounts which it gives us of the martyrs who suffered in the time of Diocletian. Still the proofs as to its prevalence in early British times are very scanty. The slaughter and the subjection of the inhabitants of the island by the heathen Saxons, and the feud that existed between the survivors of the British Church and the Saxons after they adopted Christianity probably led to the neglect and consequent loss of the memorials of the early introduction of Christianity into Britain. Hence a special interest attaches to the Vindolana inscription, fragmentary though it is. Perhaps if search were made others might be found in the same neighbourhood.

1Corp. Brit. Christ., Nos. 64, 92, 112, 157, and 158.

Excavations of 1931
SacoHarry again here. I realize the pictures above are a bit tricky to figure out without context. I've plotted the locations on a current Vindolanda map to show just where Professor Birley was digging. It's an area just to the southeast of the digger's shed. West of the big bath house, and a bit north of the modern footpath that leads down to the main fort. You can still see some of the water channel stones today.

Here is the plot:
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Prof. Birley actually hit on a very interesting spot. The early ditch he mentions (the dotted red line in the plot above, which he first dug in 1930) appears to be the northwestern curve of what's now known as the Period II/III ditch. As for the separate odd ditch running in from the southwest (which he calls Ditch B), I don't know what's up with that one. (I've left it off the plot above.) But ask Justin about weird ditches that seem to veer off in all directions!

Anyway, hope this helps make a bit of sense.

Helping Newbies
I'll leave the newbie-and-oldbie Q for Andy to answer -- if he so dareth! :P

But for the drain, you mean the lovely one in the SW corner -- near the ditch with the bit of fallen earlier wall still on display? If not, please ignore my ramblings; nothing to see here!

If so:
Spoiler: click to toggle

Excavations of 1931
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Plate XXIX

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Plate XXX

Excavations of 1931
1. Inscriptions, etc.
(a) Fragment of an upper millstone of Andernach lava, with the inscription (apparently complete) :

Ɔ A D “Century of Ad ...”

Another millstone with an inscription on it, found at Aesica in 1895 (EE ix, 1197), is now in the Black Gate museum; in that instance, the name of the centurion is followed by MOLA VII[ “millstone no. 7 (or 8 or 9)”; our example can hardly have had such a continuation, unless the spacing was considerably wider. Unstratified.

(b) (Site D: on rampart.) The greater part of a samian mortarium, Dr. 45, with part of the owner's name scratched on the curve of the outside : F O F
There does not appear to be any name of the Roman period beginning Fof-, but there may be dialect involved. The mortarium is Lezoux ware, and presumably dates to about A.D. 200.

(c) Potters' stamps on samian vessels :
(1) (FS 30: site C, unstratified.) ADVOCISI on Dr. 37, below the decoration, of which little survives. Mid-second century Lezoux ware; cf. Oswald, Index, pp. 5 and 423.
(2) (FS 43: site B, unstratified.) BA[ retrograde on a splinter of Dr. 37. For Banuus of Lezoux, cf. Oswald, Index, pp. 38 and 357. An example of this potter's work, found at South Shields, has figured several times as a tail-piece in past volumes of Proceedings.
(3) (St. 4: site B, unstratified.) MICCI[ on a splinter from the base of a platter. To judge by the fabric, this is the East Gaulish Miccio; cf. Oswald, Index, pp. 205 and 406.
(4) (St. 2: site B, ditch B.) OFSILVINI on Dr. 27; the ILV are badly blurred. Silvinus worked at La Graufesenque into the Flavian period; cf. Oswald, Index, pp. 302 and 420. The stamp has also been noted at Carlisle and Corbridge.
(5) (St. 3: site B, ditch B.) [L]TER SECVND on Dr. 18. This potter worked at Montans in the Flavian period; cf. Oswald, Index, p. 290. The stamp has also been noted at Chesters, Corbridge, and at Castlecary on the Scottish Wall, where it can be dated to within a year or two of A.D. 80.

2. Figured samian (plates xxix and xxx).
(a) (FS 1: site B, ditch A.) Another two pieces of this vessel1 were found, so that a more complete reconstruction of its decoration is now possible; the attribution to M.CRESTIO is confirmed by the occurrence of an ovolo used only by that potter and CRVCVRO.
(b) (British Museum : from the Bank of England.) This piece, with the stamp of M.CRESTIO, bears a close general resemblance to FS 1; though it is typologically rather later, since the two zones of decoration (reminiscent of Dr. 29) have given place to one : moreover, the stamp of the bear appears to be rather more worn, as is also the case with the leaf in the four corners of the main panel. I have to thank Mr. Reginald A. Smith, F.S.A., Keeper of the Department of British and Medieval Antiquities in the British Museum, for permission to publish this piece, which finally confirms the attribution of FS 1 to M.CRESTIO.
(c) (Binchester : in the possession of Mr. James McIntyre.) This piece is a further example of the work of M.CRESTIO, while it provides additional evidence for the Flavian occupation of Binchester. The small dog to r. (D. 920) occurs on a Dr. 37 by the
same potter in the British Museum (M 554).
(d-f) By the kindness of Mr. McIntyre I am able to figure three further pieces from Binchester that came from a single rubbish pit : d is a typical late Flavian South Gaulish vessel, with coarse wavy line, winding scroll, and “arrow head” ornaments (probably made with the tip of a large leaf stamp); e is the central Gaulish, with the fine wavy line, a characteristic ovolo, and the boar (D. 826) that was later used by CINNAMVS; while f belongs to the most characteristic of the group of potters that appear to have worked at Vichy, with the “ram's horn” wreath, corded ovolo, fine wavy line, and well-cut decorative details that make their ware so attractive. I am again indebted to Mr. J. A. Stanfield for the drawings, and for the partial restoration of f from a fragment in the London Museum; Mr. Stanfield is at present engaged in a special study of the “Vichy group” of potters, which may be expected to be of great value for the excavator of early second-century sites.

This little group from Binchester is of especial interest as an example of the types of figured samian that may be expected to occur in association on a site occupied in the first twenty years of the second century; the absence from Scotland of pieces with the decoration of this period (which, as f shows, is very distinctive, and quite unlike the south Gaulish products that it supplied the place of) makes it extremely difficult to suppose that the Agricolan occupation of the country north of Cheviot continued into the second century; but such decoration occurs at Corbridge, Chesters, Chesterholm, Nether Denton and Carlisle—all, as it seems, forts belonging to an earlier stage of the frontier than Vallum or Wall; here we have it from Binchester as well, and indeed there seems to be no military site in Britain, whose occupation can be shown to extend from the end of the first century into the principate of Hadrian, where such decoration, or other types used by the potters of Vichy and Lezoux in this period, have not been noted.

1 Cf. AA 4, VIII, p. 204, no. r.

Excavations of 1931
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Plate XXVII, Fig. 1

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Plate XXVII, Fig. 2

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Plate XXVIII, Fig. 1

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Plate XXVIII, Fig. 2

Excavations of 1931
Following Professor Birley's initial report, he excavated at Vindolanda again in the summer of 1931. (Though as his report makes clear, bad weather isn't a new phenomenon for diggers!) His report is produced in Archaeologia Aeliana, Series IV, Volume IX (1932), pp. 216-221. As with the excavation report from 1931, please note that these documents are still held under copyright, are owned by the Society of Antiquaries, used here by permission, and not intended to be reproduced or republished. Enjoy the read!


By Eric Birley.

[Read on 24th February, 1932.]

During the season under review, work at Chesterholm was confined to site B, the area in the vicus where a ditch containing first century pottery was found in 1930, and the north-west angle of the existing fort. Two men only were employed, and the work, never very extensive, was considerably hampered by bad weather. In the present paper I propose to give a brief account of the main discoveries, and to discuss in detail such of the objects found as deserve early publication.

At the north-west angle a structure was found in the position normally occupied by a tower ; but it can hardly have been a tower. For one thing, it had neither a doorway nor any trace of an occupation layer inside it; on the contrary, its interior had been systematically filled with rubble and clay, to a depth of more than 5 feet. Its side walls were not bonded in with the fort wall, but originally butted against it ; at present, the fort wall heels considerably outwards, so that at the highest surviving point its inner face is more than a foot away from the side walls of the angle-structure.

Of the purpose of this structure there can, I think, be little doubt. At this point the fort wall is 6 feet thick; the overall dimensions of the structure are 12 feet wide by 7 feet from front to back, so that, in effect, it thickens the fort wall to 13 feet for a distance of 12 feet, giving a platform large enough for a heavy catapult to be mounted. The absence of bonding appears to support this interpretation: for the mass of clay and rubble, with a masonry revetment, would provide just such resiliency as was essential to take the recoil of such a catapult; had the revetment been bonded in, or the structure composed of solid masonry, the recoil might easily have shattered it.

Though there was no bonding, it was clear that fort-wall and angle-structure were contemporary; the masonry was similar, the mortar identical, and the mortar itself gave an answer to one of the previous year's problems; it was heavily charged with shale, and suggested that the shale in which the masonry at the north and east gates was found to have been laid, represents the same mortar, the lime of which had disintegrated as a result of its exposure by Anthony Hedley a century ago.

The rampart mound to the west of the gun-platform was examined with some care, and yielded interesting results; but the publication of them is held over for a later report.

Immediately to the east of the gun-platform was a building, of which the west end only has been uncovered as yet, similar to that found on site C in 1930 : close up to the fort wall, and built at a high level over the rampart-backing. The roughness of the masonry of its walls was surpassed by that of its flagged floor; it yielded coins of Trajan, Severus Alexander, the younger Tetricus (a barbarous imitation), and Magnentius, together with some indeterminate scraps of pottery; but there can be little doubt that, like the building on site C, it belongs to the last phase in the occupation of the fort.

The early ditch found on this site in 1930 was reopened at the point where it was crossed by the stone water-channel that led to the bath-house from a spring to the west of the camp field. Plate xxviii, figs. 1 and 2, show how the heavy blocks of the channel had sunk over the east side of the ditch (to the west, the blocks have been robbed for a considerable distance) ; and plate xxvii, fig. 2 shows the relationship between the channel and the earlier occupation level to which reference is made below.

It was found that the ditch (ditch A) was of the common military type, in which the sides become vertical at the bottom, leaving a straight-sided channel 1 foot deep by 2 feet wide. Further early pottery occurred in the bottom of this channel, including two more pieces of the samian bowl, no. 1 in the report for 1930. A few feet north of the point where the water-channel crossed ditch A, a second ditch (B), without the straight-sided channel at the bottom, was found to join the first from the southwest. The new ditch was traced for more than fifty feet, but heavy rain, that finally brought all work on this site to an end, prevented further investigation of it; it produced equally early pottery.

Inside ditch A (that is to say, to the east of it) there was a layer of puddled clay, some 12 feet wide, and inside that again a roadway of hard rammed gravel, some 3 feet below the present surface. The clay was scored by a number of sleeper tracks, and in the inner edge of it were several post-holes (marked by pegs in plate xxvii, fig. 2) with the points of posts still in them ; but in the small area opened up there was insufficient order discernible for the purpose of sleepers or post-holes to be deduced. The clay presumably marks the position of the rampart, round the corner of which ditch A is curving; and it might be expected that a wooden angle tower would occur at this point, with which the sleeper tracks might be connected. In one of them was found a large piece of Dr. 37 in the
style of MERCATO.

The layer of gravel was covered by a deposit, varying from 1 to 2 inches in thickness, of dark peaty matter; Dr. Blackburn was good enough to examine this material, and informed me that it appeared to come from the bottom of a pond. This was something of a puzzle, as the surface of the ground at present slopes uniformly down towards the south-east, and it seemed as though such a deposit could hardly have formed here. Early in June, however, a sharp thunder-shower converted the excavation into a pond, that was still full of water in October, when it was necessary to fill it in again. Clearly, at this point there was a depression in the original surface, where water accumulated after the early site was abandoned.

Before the water-channel was laid, the ditches had been filled in, and the whole area levelled up with material, presumably from the rampart of the early fort, if fort it was; that will explain why only the tips of the posts remained in the post-holes; the greater part of them had been shaved away, together with the bulk of the rampart itself. For the date of this levelling, there is no evidence as yet; the only finds of any note from above it were a denarius of Vespasian, in good condition, and a number of pieces of a Rheinzabern bowl, Dr. 37, in the later style of the potter IANVS—presumably dating from the time of Antoninus Pius at earliest.

Roll Call - Who's Coming?
The season starts in less than two months! Hard to believe! New on WeDig this year: the Roll Call. If you'd like to see who's digging and when, here's the place. And if you'd like fellow WeDig'ers to know when you're going to be digging this year, send me an e-mail or personal message (access both by simply clicking my name on any post or thread), and I'll add you to the Wall of Fame! (I was hoping to find an easy, interactive way for folks to be able to do it themselves. But what I found is all either clunky or unsecure. If anyone has a good suggestion, I'm all ears.)

Area A (Andy)
4 Apr - 8 Apr: Jim & Dilys, Terry, Pauline, Dave, NicC
11 Apr - 15 Apr: SueC, NicC
18 Apr - 22 Apr: Alex, Sandy
25 Apr - 29 Apr:
2 May - 6 May: Badger, Fred Wolter, Brinno, Lesley
9 May - 13 May: Brinno, Lesley
16 May - 20 May: Mike C
23 May - 27 May: Justin-T
30 May - 3 June: Alex, Jim & Dilys, Terry, Pauline, Dave, Sandy, SueC
6 June - 10 June: Alex, Terry, Pauline, Dave, NicC
13 June - 17 June: Jess "potkin" Flynn & Mike Flynn, lesandmax
20 June - 24 June: reklawpete, BeverlyJ, Jim & Dilys, lesandmax, emjharding
27 June - 1 July: reklawpete, SacoHarry, BeverlyJ, KarenL, Rosie, emjharding
11 July - 15 July:
18 July - 22 July: Vix
25 July - 29 July: Jim & Dilys, Publius Hispanus
1 Aug - 5 Aug: Vix, Mick n Muriel
8 Aug - 12 Aug:
15 Aug - 19 Aug: Mike C, Sandy, Sion, hilary
22 Aug - 26 Aug: Mike C, Sandy, NicC, Sion, hilary, Jackster (with Ged, Helen, & Fran)
29 Aug - 2 Sep: Jim & Dilys
, NicC, Jackster (with Ged)

Area B (Justin)
13 Apr - 17 Apr: Terry, Pauline, Dave, alb'n'anny (both Albert & Annie)
20 Apr - 24 Apr: alb'n'anny (both Albert & Annie)
27 Apr - 1 May: Badger, Fred Wolter
4 May - 8 May:
1 May - 15 May:
18 May - 22 May:
25 May - 29 May:
1 June - 5 June:
8 June - 12 June:
15 June - 19 June:
22 June - 26 Jun: sylviaashley
29 June - 3 July: ericjacobson
6 July - 10 July:
13 July - 17 July: Cyan
20 July - 24 July: Cyan
27 July - 31 July: SueC
3 Aug - 7 Aug: Publius Hispanus
10 Aug - 14 Aug: alb'n'anny (both Albert & Annie), Mick n Muriel
17 Aug - 21 Aug:

Hedley pitches to the Society of Antiquaries
The Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne produced the very first edition of Archaeologia Aeliana in 1822. In its pages can be found a letter from none other than Anthony Hedley, offering something of an introduction to Vindolanda. In a way, the letter is also a call-to-arms for the Society of Antiquaries; a warning note of how the history of the Wall zone was being destroyed bit by bit every year. It reveals much about the mindset of the day ("Hadrian's" Vallum vs. "Severus's" Wall, misspelling of "Vindolanda," etc.). It also offers a fascinating (if dubious) sketch of Vindolanda's east gate as seen some 190 years ago, as well as an excellent write-up of the famous inscription found in the rubble at the gate. Moreover, it's an interesting window into the personality of the first man who saw Vindolanda's vast potential. The letter is reproduced in its entirety below. The entire 1st edition of Archaeologia Aeliana can be read online at: http://www.archive.org/stream/archaeologiaael19unkngoog#page/n257/mode/2up.

An Account of a sepulchral Inscription, discovered at Little Chesters, in
the County of Northumberland
, by the Rev. Anthony Hedley, A.M.

(Read January 3d, 1821)

The Roman Station of Little Chesters, (Vindolana) though mentioned in the Notitia as one of the stations per lineam Valli, is distant from it upwards of a mile. It is, however, little more than half a mile from Hadrian’s Vallum, which runs here at a considerable distance southward from the wall of Severus. It is situated upon the Via Vicinalis, which took the shortest direction from Walwick Chesters (Cilurnum) to Carrvorran (Magna). The ancient military way, in many places still very perfect, is, with slight occasional repair, part of the township road, and is called by the country people the Causeway. A Roman mile stone, six feet high, but without any inscription, is now standing upon it about fifty yards east from the station, and twelve or fourteen years ago, another was standing a mile to the west. Could the precise spot where the latter stood be determined, and the road accurately measured between the two, might it not assist in settling the contested point about the length of the miles expressed by the numbers of the Itinerary?

Vindolana being a British appellation, and signifying in that language, the fort on the height, was perhaps originally a British post.—Situated on the southern confines of the territory of the Ottadini, it was probably one of a chain of fortresses erected by them against their powerful neighbors, the Brigantes. There is reason to believe that it was taken possession of, and garrisoned, with many of the neighbouring stations, by the Romans, when Agricola brought this part of the island into subjection. An inscription found here, and mentioned by Horsley, seems to refer to Trajan, the predecessor of Hadrian, who died A. D. 117. It is quite certain, at least, from another inscription, mentioning Calpurnius Agricola, who was propraetor under Marcus Aurelius, that there was a garrison here about A. D. 165. And we know from the Notitia, which is supposed to have been compiled in the time of the second Theodosius, viz. about A. D. 445, and immediately before the withdrawing of the Roman forces from Britain, that it was then garrisoned by the Cohors quarta Gallorum. It seems, therefore, to have been occupied by the Romans during the whole of their stay in the northern part of our island.

Little Chesters became my property in 1814, by purchase, from the heirs of Mr. William Lowes, who is mentioned by Wallis as the proprietor in his time.

In the spring of 1818, the tenant having occasion for stones to build a fence, had recourse to some rudera near the ramparts of the station, which (horresco referens) had, for time immemorial, been the common quarry of the farm, and partly of the neighbourhood, for almost every purpose for which stone is wanted. On digging in front of its east entrance, where the ground slopes down very swiftly to a rivulet, called Bardon Burn, his labourer discovered a flight of stone steps, leading up this declivity, to the entrance itself. On clearing away the rubbish about the gateway, the wall on the left was found perfectly entire to the height of six feet, and about eight feet in width, the usual thickness of the wall of Severus.

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The entrance was about six feet wide, and had the ordinary bolt hole and checks for the door worked in the masonry. The wall on the right had been thrown down nearly to its foundation, and among its ruins was found a monumental stone in excellent preservation, now in the collection at Wallington. It is an oblong square, 26 inches by 21, and perfectly devoid of ornament, excepting a plain moulding in relief, as a kind of bordering. Its back is ragged and unhewn, so that it must have been built up in a wall.—It contains the following inscription, in letters so clear and distinct, and so little obliterated by exposure to the weather, that it seems to have been set up not long before the overthrow and abandonment of the station.

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Which I read thus:


There is some difficulty in the letters S. C. Gruter, in one instance, renders them Sibi Curavit, and nothing is more certain than that the Romans often made preparations for their own sepulchral monuments during their life time, as we learn from the frequently recurring expressions “vivus fecit sibi”—“sibi vivus ponendum curavit,” &c.: but in our inscription, the “conjux procuravi,” about the meaning of which there can be no doubt, seems to be at variance with this supposition. I am inclined to agree, therefore, with an antiquarian friend, who thinks that the letters in question denote the military rank or office of Cornelius Victor, and I know of nothing for which they can stand, except the reading I have ventured to assign. Though the eagle was the general standard of the legion, it may be inferred from several passages in the classics,* that each cohort had its particular signum, as well as its own signifer. The following instance, referred to below from the Commentaries, is very express. In the engagement between Caesar and the Nervii we are told, “quartae cohortis omnibus centurionibus occisis, signiferoque interfecto, signo amisso,” &c. Cornelius Victor, a native of Pannonia or modern Hungary, and who had served twenty-six years, might therefore die, signifer, or standard bearer, of the Cohors quarta Gallorum.

The labourer, never, I believe, consulting his employer, tore up, without any compunction, the fine flight of steps leading to the gateway, and likewise rased to its very foundation, the wall on the right. Had he fortunately left everything as he had found it, the discovery would have presented one of the most gratifying sights to the Antiquary, now to be met with on the line of the wall. There is now, alas! little to be seen, and excepting in two or three, I am afraid not much more to be discovered in any of them. It is melancholy to reflect that these eighteen immense magazines of Roman Antiquities should have been almost completely rifled, and no one good collection formed of their contents, as a great proportion of the articles that have been dug up has, if not destroyed by the ignorance of their chance discoverers, either perished through neglect, or been divided among a great many private museums, as well as a few public ones in different parts of the kingdom. And it is strange, that from the time of Camden, who first explored them with an antiquarian eye, down to our own, nothing, or next to nothing, has been donen towards systematically clearing the ground plan of one of these stations. Might not a portion of the funds of the Society be usefully and legitimately employed in an attempt of this kind? Great Chesters, Housesteads, and Risingham in Reedwater, each still afford a promising field for this kind of research. Half a dozen labourers for a fortnight, at an expense of not more than five pounds, would clear away much of the rubbish from any one of these stations, and not only discover, it is to be hoped, many curious and precious fragments of antiquity, but throw a very interesting and desirable light on the stationary economy of the Romans, and on the form and arrangement of their castra stativa.

Summer Hill, January 2d, 1831

* Caes. B. G. ii. 25. Liv. xxvii. 15. Tac. Ann. i. 18. Hist. i. 41.

The Ninth Cohort Of Batavians
Multiple cohorts running around sharing the same name = not helpful to a modern historian!

I guess there's good evidence that it's "our" IX Batavians that made it to Dacia in 105? (The obvious hurry with which they left Vindolanda at the end of Period III is a big clue at least!) Inscriptions and the Notitia then have "IX Batavorum" residing in Raetia (modern southen Germany) til the end of the western Empire. Do we know for sure that this is still "ours"?

I found excerpts from recent books online mentioning Trajan's Column scenes 36-42. (A Google search using "IX Batavorum" and "Trajan's Column" was my best starting point.) Supposedly they show Germanic auxiliaries in native war-gear, consisting of wolf and bear pelts. Elsewhere there's a paper that shows auxiliaries on Trajan's Column using chainmail and round shields to distinguish them from legionaries. Sadly, as usual much of the information online is contradictory & it's hard to know who to trust.

I don't see anything that specifies attire/standards of the Ninth Batavians yet. But it's a start. From what I've seen and what Andy says, it also sounds like a hornet's nest of conflicting info!

Excavations of 1930 - Samian ware supplement
FIGURED SAMIAN (fig. 7).31

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1. (F.S. 1: site B, ditch.) The leaf in the upper band of decoration, the quatrefoil ornament in the upper compartment of the “St. Andrew's Cross” motif, and the rosettes, are all used by M.CRESTIO (Knorr 1919, taf. 28 and textbild 17). The bear occurs on bowls of form 29 by DARIBITVS and LICINVS (l.c., taf. 30, taf. 45), DAMONVS and S.VIIRIV (London Museum), and MODESTVS (Vindonissa Museum, on a bowl in “marbled” technique); all these potters, however, belong to the pre-Flavian period. As yet no signed example has been noted on Flavian vessels, but there are several unsigned instances; cf. Lee, Isca Silurum, plate XIII, no. 7; Carnarvon, p. 158, no. 50; Brecon, S. 64; on form 78 in the Vindonissa Museum; and, in the National Museum in Zurich, on a late South Gaulish piece, on which the stag, D. 865 (for which cf. no. 5 below) also occurs. The style of decoration is paralleled by pieces found at Pompeii, and therefore not later than A.D. 79; cf. Atkinson, J.R.S. IV, plate xi, no. 55, plate xii, no. 60, etc; and on general grounds A.D. 80 or thereabouts would be the likeliest date for our piece. To judge by the types other than the bear (which in this case cannot help us) the piece was made by M.CRESTIO or a closely allied potter, in the earlier part of his career.

2. (F.S. 6: site B, ditch.) The festoon and the detached leaf are both characteristic of the work of GERMANVS, to whom this piece may be attributed; cf. Knorr 1919, taf. 35, nos. 53 and 67. This potter's work falls chiefly into the period A.D. 60-80, his floruit being about 70. This piece, like no. 1, might belong to the beginning of Agricola's governorship.

3. (F.S. 8: site B, ditch.) For a similar straight-wreath, cf. Knorr 1919, taf. 59, D (by MOMMO); Newstead, p. 215, no. 9, is a very similar piece. The style of decoration recurs on work by GERMANI F SER, BIRAGILLVS, and other late South Gaulish potters.

4. (F.S. 26: north gate, in a disturbed patch of the gate passage.) This stag is used by NIC... (D. 862); OF SECVND (Knorr 1919, taf. 73); and MERCATO (Richborough II, plate xxvii, no. 11): while it can also be attributed to a number of other South Gaulish potters who use the companion stag to r. The hare is also used by OF SECVND (Knorr 1919, taf. 73). Typologically, the piece belongs to the period A.D. 80-90; its occurrence at the north gate, though in a place where stratification had been destroyed, is noteworthy.

5. (F.S. 13: site B, ditch.) This stag Dechelette ascribes to the fabric of Banassac; cf. D 865; Knorr, Rottenburg, taf. V, no. 5. In the Vindonissa Museum, it occurs in several cases on late South Gaulish examples of form 37 -- on pieces typologically later than our nos. 1-6 and 8; the removal of legion XI Claudia from Vindonissa in A.D. 100 to the Danube, suggests that year as a terminus ante quem for the arrival of samian there: this suggestion is borne out by the sudden and complete break in the occupation of the site, to which the plentiful pottery bears witness. From A.D. 100 to c. 150, Vindonissa was not occupied; its value, therefore, for a criterion of the dating of late South Gaulish pottery cannot be overrated.

6. (F.S. 7: site B, ditch.) The trefoil is used by MERCATO (Knorr 1919, textbild 47); this piece and no. 5 come from bowls that have been made in somewhat worn moulds; the glaze, however, is good.

7. (F.S. 25: site C, outside the fort-wall.) The gladiators occur at Colchester on form 37, stamped FRONTINI. In Knorr 1919, they are figured on a piece (taf. 29, B.) with the ovolo that was used by CRVCVRO and M.CRESTIO: whilst they occur on a 37 in the Cambridge Museum signed by CRVCVRO (Brecon Gaer, p. 141). At Brecon they occur on a 37 with the ovolo, with tongue ending in large rosette, that was used by PAVLLVS and MERCATO. The fabric and execution of our piece are poor.

8. (F.S. 24: site 11, ditch.) The straight-wreath is used by PASSENVS or PASSIENVS (Knorr 1919, taf. 62, no. 30); the feet above it probably belong to the bear, D. 818. This type occurs at Brecon Gaer (S. 147) on a piece in the style of GERMANI F SER.

9. A-D. (F.S. 2: site B, ditch.) Four fragments, probably from the same bowl; some of them are partly burnt. The Pan (D. 416) is used by OF MASCVI (Knorr 1919, taf. 53); it occurs in the Bregenz “cellar-find” on form 37, attributed to MERCATO, as does the Silenus (D. 323) whose feet and bunch of grapes appear in 9D. In 9B, the foot over the altar is probably that of the Satyr (D. 332) used by GERMANVS; this type occurs (on form 78) at Cannstatt (Knorr 1919, textbild 22), the occupation of which began in c. A.D. 90.

The Bregenz material was dated by Jacobs to the time of Trajan; but the material in the Vindonissa Museum -- earlier than A.D. 100. -- includes much that is as late as any in the Bregenz cellar-find, if not indeed later; and pieces with the types that occur on our no. 9 are common there. It is therefore noteworthy that these types hardly occur in Scotland.

10. (F.S. 17: site B, unstratified.) The Venus (D. 176) is used by the Lezoux potter ARCANVS (Knorr, Rottenburg, taf. IX, no. 1); the figure on the right is probably a harpy, such as are not uncommon on Trajanic samian. The sharp wavy line is particularly characteristic of Arcanus and contemporary potters. The glaze of this piece has largely perished, but the fabric is hard and good.

11. (F.S. 12, 14: site B, ditch.) Two pieces, probably from the same bowl, form 37; very good glaze, fabric, and execution. The “ram's-horn” type of straight-wreath is especially characteristic of the group of potters usually assigned to Luxeuil or Vichy; it occurs, for example, on a vessel with the type of decoration attributable to RANTO at Rottweil, (taf. IX, no. 1). Examples occur also at Carnarvon, Brecon Gaer, Caer Llugwy, Templebrough, Richborough (second report, p. 57 f.), London (where it is very common), York and many other sites. As yet, no example of it has been found in Scotland.

It will be seen that of the South Gaulish pieces, nos. 1-9, 1 and 2 might be earlier than A.D. 80, whilst the remainder are all earlier than 100; nos. 10 and 11 may be assigned to the first quarter of the second century. There is as yet insufficient evidence to decide whether the initial occupation of the site is to be dated as early as the time of Agricola; account must be taken of the possibility of survivals; but the series, for all that it is a small one, affords an instructive contrast to the Scottish material.

31 F.S. (=Figured samian) followed by a number, refers to the index by which it will he possible to find the material at Chesterholm; then follows the find-spot.

Excavations of 1930 - Samian ware supplement
As promised, here is the section on samian found by Eric Birley at Vindolanda in 1930. It was originally presented in-line with the rest of the paper, "An Introduction to the Excavation of Chesterholm-Vindolanda" in Archaeologia Aeliana, Series 4, Volume VIII, 1931, pp. 182-212. But it seemed to flow better online by pulling it into its own separate page here. Enjoy!