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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!

Area A The Barracks
I promise to take a boatload of pics when I'm there over Friends weekend, and will try to take good notes on the talks. Looking forward to harassing Andy, Justin, Beth, Alex, et al til they dump me in the spoilheap. :D

Welcome, new folks, join the fun!
Just wanted to wish a warm welcome to the new folks who have joined WeDig in the past couple of weeks. Great to have you all here!

Please always feel free to jump in and start typing. There are no bad questions or uninteresting photos or stupid thoughts. This is a community of folks who all share a love of digging in the dirt. And a site that thrives on the contributions & conversations of its members.

So what's on your mind? What's in your photo album? Bring it on!

If you ever have any difficulties posting, or adding a picture, or with any of the bells & whistles here, always feel free to send me a message. Just click my nickname to the left, "SacoHarry," and click the e-mail link. I'll help figure it out.

Again, welcome to We Dig Vindolanda!

Area B, June 2009
David, is this breakdown of the tower, rampart, walls, etc. accurate?

Posted Image

Green - Possible Period II/III western gate tower (c. AD 100)
Purple - Rampart base (Severan?) (c. AD 210)
Orange - Vicus wall (3rd C)
Yellow - Unidentified wall (c. ?)

Area B, June 2009
David, these are fantastic pictures, and the descriptions are great! I've pulled them out to start a "June" thread to help keep the timelines separated.

For those getting their bearings, it looks like the trench is about here:

Posted Image

If you guys have found the western gate of Period II/III that's a big coup! But yeah, why would it be so high up? More late-Roman terracing/ground levelling at work?

Andy talks bacon sandwiches
Crew from Northeast Journal Live talking Roman comfort food in March, 09. (Justin, you appear to be enjoying yours immensely.)


Mmmmmm. Bacon Butties....

£1.8m grant brings Roman history home
Originally posted at: http://www.hexham-courant.co.uk/news/news_at_a_glance/1_8m_grant_brings_roman_history_home_1_567325?referrerPath=home

£1.8m grant brings Roman history home
Last updated 09:41, Friday, 12 June 2009

TYNEDALE’S most famous historic artefacts are on their way home.

A £1.8 million grant from regional development agency One North East has almost certainly provided the wherewithal to return the legendary Vindolanda Tablets to the site where they were discovered more than 30 years ago.

And although the 2,000-year-old samples of life in Roman Britain will only be coming on loan, local businesses are delighted with the news. For the grant is seen as the key to luring an extra 20,000 visitors to the Wall as a result of the new exhibitions and facilities which will be created, generating an estimated £4.2 million in visitor spending, as well as supporting 63 jobs.

It is hoped this grant will encourage the National Lottery to release further funds to enable a major revamp of the Vindolanda site to go ahead.

The tablets, currently held at the British Museum, in London, are recognised as being amongst the most important and well preserved collections of Roman heritage in the world. The first tablets were found at Vindolanda, near Bardon Mill, in the 1970s by Robin Birley and his team. Rather than being dry and dusty technical documents, the ink messages, written on wood, give details of the everyday lives of people who lived and worked on the Wall over 2,000 years ago. They include invitations to birthday parties, letters home and details of military life.

The vast collection of tablets will be returned to Vindolanda for a range of themed exhibitions as part of a rolling programme of displays. An archaeo-education centre will also be developed to host workshops and events as well as on-site accommodation for volunteers. Many of Vindolanda and The Roman Army Museum’s collections will also go on public display for the first time as part of the project, which is expected to be complete by spring 2011.

A decision on the final piece of the jigsaw – a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for almost £4 million to help fund the project – is expected later this year. The funding will help provide new facilities to house these delicate documents. Visitors to the site will also be able to enjoy a “behind the scenes” viewing area of the volunteers working on finds from the annual excavation activity at the site.

The Vindolanda Trust’s director, Patricia Birley, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the news that the One North East funding has been approved. This will substantially strengthen our bid for Lottery funding. “We have put forward an inspiring and exciting development proposal that will invigorate and transform our two museums at Vindolanda and The Roman Army Museum along the Military Road at Carvoran. We cannot wait to start this wonderful project, which will encourage more visits to the area and provide even more regional and local heritage employment opportunities. We are extremely grateful to One North East for this support, to Northumberland Strategic Partnership for their invaluable contribution to the application process and to Hadrian’s Wall Heritage for their involvement and enthusiasm for this project.”

One North East’s director of communications and tourism, Stacy Hall, said: “Hadrian’s Wall is one of the most significant Roman sites in the world and the Vindolanda Tablets are a vital part of the story of this exciting era in British history. This funding will now ensure that future generations of visitors will be able to view these internationally important documents in the region where they were first written, giving them an enhanced insight into life during Roman times. The new facilities and exhibitions will undoubtedly improve the visitor experience at Hadrian’s Wall.”

New Digger's Guide section: "Other Area Sites"
Just added a new feature to the still-un-renamed "Other Area Sites Worth a Visit" section: Black Middens Bastle House. This one's a bit out of the way, but it's about the most authentic, intact bastle house you're going to find in the region -- that you can actually wander around & explore. Anyone who's got an interest in the whole Northumbrian Reiver culture shouldn't miss it. It's fun to visit a site that still evokes something of the old "Wild West" that used to be the Borders.

Happy Friday!

Some great news for Vindolanda -- and WeDigVindolanda!
Two new stories up in Vindolanda News Stories 2009:

-- As part of the new HLF grant, some of Vindolanda's famous tablets may be coming home! No doubt, the British Museum can expose them to the widest audience. But there's a strong argument for bringing them back to the land where they were written 1900 years ago. Not to mention the boon to tourism & interpretation to have them right on-site. Good luck in seeing this through!

-- As a fabulous boost to our humble site, the magazine British Archaeology has given a full-page article to WeDig in its current (July-August 2009) issue! Huge thanks to all fellow WeDig-ers, who have made this site a success & raised it to the notice of such a journal. The future looks bright indeed.

Vindolanda Trust Interpretation Brief
"As the result of a successful Heritage Lottery Fund Stage One application the Vindolanda Trust is pleased to invite tenders from exhibition designers to work with them to produce an interpretation & design plan for proposed new developments at the two separate sites of Vindolanda & The Roman Army Museum."

Full interpretation brief can be found at: https://www.vindolanda.com/pdfs/vindolanda_trust_interpretation_brief.pdf

Roman 'expense' tablets head home
Originally appearing at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/tyne/8088011.stm

Roman 'Expense' Tablets Head Home

The Vindolanda tablets suggest Roman officials submitted expense claims
Roman writing tablets highlighting the inflated expenses claims of public officials 2,000 years ago are to return to their Northumberland home.

The tablets were found at Vindolanda - a Roman encampment on Hadrian's Wall -in 1973 and detail hundreds of expenses claimed by Roman officials.

They are currently held by the British Museum in London. But under a scheme funded by regional development agency One NorthEast, the wooden tablets are to return home.

Five of the translated tablets contain 111 lines detailing entertainment claims at the Roman camp. The items include ears of grain, hobnails for boots, bread, cereals, hides and pigs.

The tablets will be returned to Vindolanda for a range of themed exhibitions as part of a rolling programme of displays.

Stacy Hall, director of tourism at One NorthEast said: "Hadrian's Wall is one of the most significant Roman sites in the world and the Vindolanda Tablets are a vital part of the story of this exciting era in British history."

More than 400 tablets were discovered at the site and are some of the earliest examples of the written word in Britain.

Area A The Barracks
LOL! Masada much?

That's one frightening spoilheap. And only early June!

Overheard through gritted smiles: "She squeezes the toothpaste from the middle." "He -always- leaves the lid up."

Welcome to marital bliss!

Digging Vindolanda
Originally appearing in British Archaeology, Jul-Aug 2009

Digging Vindolanda

Since 1970 the Vindolanda Trust has carried forward excavations by the Birley family at the Hadrian’s Wall fort in Northumberland. Harry Johnson set up a website for the many volunteers who work there
Digging Vindolanda

At the end of the 2006 digging season at Vindolanda, a number of volunteers talked about a way to stay in touch through the off-seasons. That autumn, I put together the first We Dig Vindolanda forum pages.

It quickly became more than just a keep-in-touch site. In the 2007 and 2008 seasons, it proved an excellent place for people to post their own pictures and stories from the ongoing digs. Andy Birley, the director of excavations, and his deputy Justin Blake gave their support to the site, and have posted many threads and weekly group photos as well. It has been a great record of day-to-day digging by regular folks, sharpened by the input of the lead site archaeologists themselves.

Vindolanda is one of those sites that gets under your skin. It is not just the awesome archaeology, or cracking jokes with a living legend like Robin Birley as he wanders the trenches. The countryside is gorgeous, the people are friendly and welcoming, the food at the pubs is tasty, the local villages and market towns really have their own personalities – it all adds up to an experience that folks kind of carry with them long after their dig is over. Many volunteers come back year after year, some from thousands of miles away, and lots of us really enjoy having an armchair view of the digs when we cannot be there.

Knowing all that, I knew We Dig could grow into a real resource in addition to a social site. This past winter, I decided to ramp it up. I enlisted the help of long-time member Eric Jacobson, who has a real love of Roman political and military practices. Working together, we created a new Digger's Guide for volunteers. It helps explain Vindolanda's 12 different occupation levels/periods, and gives background primers on the Roman army, as well as overall imperial grand strategy/mindset. The idea is to help a novice make some sense of what Vindolanda really was, and what it was doing there in the wilds of Northumberland. On a more tactile level, the guide includes pages on the typical kinds of items that a digger could expect to come across. (There are currently pages on Roman coinage and Samian pottery, with more slated to come.)

What is key to us is that the guide – and the website as a whole (tinyurl.com/caulnn) – focus on the volunteer digger and interested novice. It is a way to jump into Vindolanda and quickly understand the story of the site – a way to help you make the most of your time there, be it a week digging, or an afternoon watching and exploring. A really fun addition has been the brief wrap-ups from recent excavations. Using 100% member-submitted photos, I have created pictorial records of the discoveries of the granaries found in 2008, and the north-west corner of the first stone fort found in 2007. It is great to be able to take member info and turn it into a recap of a season’s work.

The site strongly encourages anyone and everyone to post pictures, thoughts, and ideas – and have a good debate. Later this season there will be new updates on local walks, other interesting but off-the-beaten-path archaeology (such as the nearby 18th century lime kiln), and general “things to do” in the area – again focused on the needs and time constraints of a digger who is working much of each day.

The website is constantly maturing. Our first focus has been content; more interactivity & technology will follow. And as digger priorities evolve, we will learn, adjust, and grow.

Harry Johnson, self-described avid amateur, lives with his wife and young daughter in Saco, Maine, USA