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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 9
Pete, looks like the monster rock is still there (as of yesterday anyway). Here's another from Terry's collection:
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I'm just glad that Sunny's & my lovely flagged floor (foreground) are still there too!

Will try to post the rest of the album this evening. Some really great shots of the individual barrack rooms in the block just west of Temple Ave.

Week 9
Good to see you again Terry! Will try to get your great photos & the Canon link up tomorrow. For now, here's at least one, your shot of Temple Avenue from the south looking north, 1st day of Wk 9.
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What a difference 3 weeks can make: my shot from the same location, 1st day of Wk 6.
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Both of these shots are taken from this location:
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Area of Excavations 2011
END OF WEEK 8
(May 23 - May 27)

Finishing up current work on Site #4, more in Site #1, and two new sites: #5 & #6
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This week started with major rain & wind, but picked up by the end. Diggers finished tearing out gently excavating away the last remains of Temple Avenue along Site #4, finally laying bare the Antonine road/barrack surface. (Remember, the Antonine (late 2nd C) fort was shifted a bit to the east (right) of the later fort. So under the 3rd/4th C alley lies the eastern edge of an Antonine barrack and the western half of its corresponding alley.) More well-preserved Severan roundhouses showed up in the process.

Remains in Site #1 were also cleared, in places down to the Antonine levels where they could be reached. It's become clear that all of the late 2nd C and 3rd C material is subsiding into an earlier north-south ditch -- probably the eastern ditch of Vindolanda's Period IV fort (early 2nd Century, pre-Hadrianic).

As Temple Avenue work ended, crews were pulled to start working in the 4th Century apartments just to its west, Site #5. They started clearing the battered 4th C levels to reveal the 3rd Century barracks below. One room was clearly a workshop, as it was filled with a mass of burned material, as well as large amounts of pottery and other small finds. As usual, weird things were found -- badly behaved walls & drains appearing where they didn't belong, etc.

Lastly, another new area, Site #6, was started. This is the intervallum road running between the north end of the barracks and the north wall of the fort. Evidence of multiple repavings came to light, but little in the way of finds.

Cheers to katesf for the bulk of the info, along with Justin's great Twitter feed and photos by TerryS showing the state of things at the beginning of Wk 9 (which is how they were left at the end of Wk 8).

The first historical reports of Vindolanda
It's easy to miss some of the stuff lurking in the corners here at WeDig. Wanted to take a moment to shine a light on the section on Primary Sources. There I've collected everything I can find on travelers' notes about Vindolanda from the distant past. Nothing is recorded of Vindolanda from the end of Roman Britain until 1702. But the 18th & early 19th centuries were a flurry of activity across all of the Wall region -- and many explorers & antiquarians visited Vindolanda itself.

You can read Dr. Hunter's report of 1702, Horsley's striking commentary from 1725 (published 1732), John Wallis's visit in 1769 -- as well as a number of 19th C writings, and even a few early bits & bobs about the Wall region itself. (Though the Wall was known as a Roman monument throughout the Middle Ages, the first "modern" glimpse of it comes in c. 1540.)

It's fascinating (to me anyway) to see the state of the remains through their eyes, real windows into an otherwise murky & mysterious time in Tynedale.

When worlds collide
Some of you may know that besides being a Vindolanda buff, I also run a blog on the topic of persistent pollution, The Flotsam Diaries. It started with a walk at the beach a year ago, where I saw thousands of bits of plastic and other trash washed up on the tide line. Since then, I've been beachcombing, studying, learning, and trying to share what I find. Floating garbage patches, plastic-covered beaches in paradise, pollutants seeping into our own yards -- it's sobering stuff.

While I was digging, the two worlds overlapped in a couple ways. First, much of what comes up at Vindolanda was just a different era's garbage. It was kind of fun comparing how we value these glimpses into the past because they're so rare, whereas the trash we generate now is ubiquitous around all corners of the globe. Second, where I stayed, The Twice Brewed Inn, has just completed a major septic system upgrade that has helped make it cleaner than it's been in, well, probably centuries. Using just a little tech, and a lot of nature. Seeing as the Twicey's stream empties into the burns that run right past Chesterholm museum, it was a neat tie-in for another article.

At any rate, for those interested, the two Vindolanda/Tynedale-themed articles are at:
http://theflotsamdiaries.blogspot.com/2011/05/throwing-stones-across-pond.html and
http://theflotsamdiaries.blogspot.com/2011/05/flotsam-by-another-name.html.

Area of Excavations 2011
END OF WEEK 7
(May 16 - May 20)

More heavy work on Site #4, and a return to Site #1
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Dodging wind and rain, crews spent most of their effort clearing more of the 3rd & 4th C road ("Temple Ave") in Site #4 down to the Antonine level. Justin mentions a well-preserved Severan roundhouse sandwiched between the 3rd C road and the Antonine levels, sounds good!

Other reports list a nice catalog of fun finds, from legionary stamps on tiles to large bits of glass, samian pottery fragments, an octagonal column base, a knife blade, beads.

Elsewhere, work is ramping back up in Site #1, the northern end of the flagged main N/S roadway of the latest fort. Underneath the 3rd/4th C road is the expected continuation of the Antonine barrack that was found to the south. But as in Site #4, the farther north the dig goes, the less well-preserved the Antonine material. What was nice finished, faced stonework in the south turns to unsquared rubble foundation core to the north. In the western bit of Site #1, crews have begun descending into 3rd Century barrack floors. This northern part of this particular barrack would have been the centurion's quarters. Regular soldiers slept about 8 to a room; centurions got their own private multi-room suite at the end of a barrack block, so lived comparatively well.

(Curiously, the Antonine fort that lay below the latest fort reversed the position of the barracks -- their centurion quarters were placed near the center of the fort, rather than the northern edge.)

Week 7 (16-20 May)
Catching tiny tidbits of intact Severan roundhouses, Legionary stamps, etc. All sounds great. Anyone on site able to fill in the details of the week??

Week 6
Hey Kate!!

I think I just uploaded a really cruddy picture. I found a better one of the same bit of mortarium, facing right-side up this time. After you said "SENN" it sure looks like it to me!

Amazing how many stamps have come up so far, and it's only mid-May! I already want to get on a plane and head back over.

Week 6
I'm sorry too Sandy! We've had some pretty fab trenches, haven't we? At least it'll be nice seeing what you guys are up to in a couple weeks.

Week 6
A few pics from team "Down the Drain" on our last couple of days last week.

#1: Gorgeous intact melon bead found by Roz

#2: Angled shot looking south down dying remains of 3rd/4th C "Temple Ave". Foreground shows the flagged flooring that Sunny & I found. At extreme bottom right is the confusing burned cobbling/slag/bone area where Roz, Brenna, & Rebecca worked.

#3: Roz & Brenna troweling back cobbled area looking for Antonine wall foundation. (Andy in background looking flummoxed.)

#4: Brenna, Rebecca, and some guy with bad hair & worse fashion sense.

#5: Sunny proudly brushing dust off of our lovely flagged floor.

Edit: PS: Great meeting you too Sophie! It really was amazing to watch the old road just melt hour by hour. The difference between Monday & Friday was amazing.

Area of Excavations 2011
END OF WEEK 6
(May 9 - May 13)

This week was all Site #4 -- "Temple Avenue."
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** Note: I've tightened up Site 4 to stay within the bounds of the 3rd/4th C roadways. And I've also squeezed the western two barracks down a bit. After being on site I can see that "Temple Ave" is bigger & more prominent than I'd been drawing it. **

The goal was to take out the 4th & 3rd C road surfaces, to see the late 2nd C (Antonine) level below. Andy & Justin expected there to be another Antonine barrack hidden under it -- a mirror image of the barrack to the east.

But as the week went on, it became clear that things weren’t going to be so easy. A lot of strange things popped up. At the far northern bit of the road, we came down on a layer of heavy burning, and some unfaced stones. Just south of that, we hit a 4ft x 4ft section of beautiful flagstone flooring, which might be Severan and still might lie on top of the Antonine barrack, if it’s there. A bit further south, Pete looked like he’d found proper Antonine barrack wall. But after another day or so of digging it looked much less clean & straight. Further south still, Jeff’s crew came down on some very odd stonework that looked like a T-junction for a drain. Again probably Severan, and no sign yet of the Antonine wall.

So the ground under the 3rd/4th C roadways is full of mysteries, most of them truncated, or bashed up, or otherwise really hard to figure out. Still, it was a good week. If you knew what you were going to find, there’d be no point digging. Week 7 will continue the work in trying to get down to Antonine levels, and then hopefully something will start coming up that makes sense!

Week 6
At Manchester airport, got WiFi for the moment. Like Tim said, lot of raindrop-dodging yesterday. Plus our crew was pulled off for surveying, so limited digging the last day. We did bash out all the rest of Temple Ave down to Severan/earlier levels. There's a beautiful bit of flagging that Sunny and I worked on, and some highly burned cobbling/slag/bone fragments where Roz, Brenna, and Rebecca were working. No Antonine wall, and even Andy & Justin are left wondering what's been happening.

Great week, sad to leave. Had so much fun seeing old friends, making new ones. Will definitely be back!!

Week 6
End of Day 4. Started with rain & more rain. Spent an hour in an interesting lecture by Andy. Nice overview to the site, some context for the early finds/levels, and tantalizing tidbits for a maybe Agricolan-era fort in the north field. (In other words, a decade earlier than the earliest known fort.)

Rain let up enough to get late-morning digging in. More drizzle in early PM but not enough to stop work. Then at tea break much of the crew took the pilgrimage to the Roman Army Museum. 8 or 9 or us stayed behind to keep working the trenches.

Temple Street is slowly eroding back to nothing all up and down its length. The goal has been to strip away the 3rd-4th C road surfaces to reveal the Antonine barrack that should be underneath. Today the crews finally did it. At the far northern part, our trio of teenagers (Roz & Brinna (sp?) from Canada and Rebecca from Michigan) uncovered the last battered bits of foundation (along with massive burning on top of the Antonine cobbles nearby). Just south of us, Pete was the first to hit proper Antonine barrack facing stones, and the wall looks great. Exactly where it should be.

Sunny (Suni? Don't know, sorry!!) and I kept working our flagstone-floored feature, which is coming up beautifully. It looks Severan, though not necessarily a roundhouse. It even, finally, elicited an under-the-breath "ooh" from our fearless excavation director. Though he probably won't admit it. The bizarre drain/oven further to the south being worked by Jeff (Geoff? I really must write down names!) and crew is still holding its mystery tight. As Temple Street narrows to nothing, a few folks are being pulled back to the northern area of the old Site #2 to trowel back areas.

Overall, it was a solid half-day of largely road demolition, with some unexpected bits coming up here and there. Sparse on finds, though Roz did pull out a beautiful, intact green melon bead, Sunny got a bronze brooch or stud, along with a few other bits up & down the line.

One more day. Sad.

A couple pictures to follow later this evening!

Week 6
As promised.

Pic #1: A batch of the pottery we washed today, uncovered by diggers two or three weeks ago. A pretty good sampling of the kinds of stuff coming up. Really wide range, and lots of beautiful bits tossed into backfill by the Romans.

Pic #2: Rim of a mortarium, with maker's stamp "SENN." WeDig'er Kate says it's from a British potter named Sennius who worked in the late 2nd C. Only the 3rd Sennius mortarium to show up at Vindolanda! I found it in the fill that built up "Temple Street."

Pic #3: A Badger sighting.

Pic #4: From up on Barcombe Hill, a skylark nest hidden in the bracken on the ground. Spotted by a Hill walker with better eyes than mine!

Pic #5: Also on Barcombe, looking southeast across Thorngrafton Common to the South Tyne valley beyond. Sun peeking through clouds illuminating distant field.

Week 6
Good day up in the northern bit of "Temple Street." (Or what's left of it -- primo picture, Badger!) Our crew had mandatory pot-washing duty in the morning. Which coincided nicely with the AM rain shower! Our archaeology is behaving badly though, which is kind of fun. There -should- be a nice north-south Antonine (2nd C) drain with cobbled roadway on the east and cobbled barrack veranda/porch to the west. Instead, in the middle of our bit the drain is robbed out and replaced with an ever-growing section of flagstones. At the northern edge of the flags, just as they turn back into cobbles, there's a large area of burning. Really blackened, sooty bits. So what are the flags doing there? Maybe propping up a subsided bit? Maybe a floor surface and an oven? Probably none of the above. Hope to find more tomorrow.

Also, ended the day with a -great- guided walk up Barcombe Hill, led by WeDig's own Mike McGuire. Mike is a geologist working with Vindolanda to learn the source of the stonework used in the forts. And a great storyteller. Thx for the walk & talk Mike! If you've never gone up the hill, do it. The views can't be beat. And the quarries are a sight.

A picture or two of the trench to follow, with luck.

Week 6
I want to thank you kindly for posting that picture of me. I would've gladly paid the £12 ransom instead. That said, it was -very- awesome of the Vindolanda team to bequeath this to this Pub Quiz traitor. Ruby will love it, especially when she sees a picture of it proudly atop the ranging pole!

Week 6
Two more pictures:

1st, a few of the nicer bits of pottery that have come up -- a jug handle, a mortaria rim, and two big chunks of decorated samian
2nd, closeup of one piece of samian apparently showing a scene from the long-lost play "The Warrior and the Bunny"

Week 6
WiFi sorted -- for the moment. Pictures as promised.

1st, the strange checkerboard pottery stamp
2nd, view of the narrowing cobbled 3rd-4th C alleyway from the north looking south

Week 6
Another good day of digging. A few morning drizzles but not enough to run us off. The whole of Site #4 is being worked, with the 3rd-4th C alley slowly being excavated away from both sides. (Making the barrow run a bit tricky for those still using the road!) Our group has come down to Antonine surfaces, but they churned up in the middle. Good drains & cobbling at south bit, fair at north, but robbed out and replaced with a mass of boulders in the middle. Nice pottery coming up, and good small finds. I pulled out a pottery stamp they'd not seen before - a checkerboard pattern. A codigger found a copper belt strapend, and elsewhere there came up the bowl of a small bronze spoon. Pictures to follow once the Twicey sorts out its wifi... again.

Week 6
What a great start to the week! The team is working up and down the area shown as Site #4, with two focuses: (1) removing the cobbled 3rd-4th century alleyway to reveal 2nd Century (Antonine) bits underneath; and (2) defining the Antonine roadway underneath that's already mostly exposed. Tricky work, as the ground is subsiding into two wide, early ditches. One runs north-south under the 3rd-4th C barrack just to the east of the 3rd-4th C alley. The other seems to be running east-west at the northern edge of the alley. The ditches & subsidence are noticeable on-site, but not as severe as in other parts of the fort in other years. Still, a tantalizing mystery -- they're hoping to have some answers by year's end! The first attachment is from the northern bit of the alley looking south.

Good finds from our section today. I and another veteran are "buddies" to three novice diggers: two Uni students from Canada, and a high-school senior from Michigan who chose to dig at Vindolanda as her end-of-year project. We were tasked with pulling down the sad remains of a 4th C house and underlying 3rd C drain in the northeast area of Site #4, and then digging down to the Antonine cobbled road. It's going really fast and we've already knocked out a big, honking section of the the old baulk. Which has been chock-a-block with old samian, cooking ware, glass, cobbling, nails, iron, even a grotty old bit of enameled copper -- whatever the late Romans could find to level things up! It's a great lot and we had a lot of fun today. The second picture is a sampling of the kinds of stuff we've found. There's also been some chunks of animal bone and many pieces of roof tiles, both flat and curved. Also, we found a chunk of box flue -- the kind of hollow tile "pipe" that carried hypocaust smoke up the side of a centurion's quarters and out the roof. Good living, that.

Looking forward to ibuprofen, fish & chips, quiz night, and a good day tomorrow.

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