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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 B'
Thanks much for this, David! Wow, so much happening everywhere.

Question about the sand/silt buildup (there was a similar area nearby in '09 too, right?). What could have caused so much to build up there in a matter of, at best, a few decades? I could understand a few inches of grime and whatnot in a derelict old yard space. But that looks like well over a foot! If it was a major flood event, I could maybe see it. But even then, you'd think there would be rubbish strewn throughout flood debris.

Are there any signs of it being filled on purpose? Like tipping lines or anything? Just seems so odd.

'Area A'
Alright, so let's see if this is an improvement. Here, for ref, is Michael's original:
Posted Image

The overlay:
Posted Image

There are three major periods shown here, spanning well over a century:

Period VI-A (items that are shades of pink) -- This is known as the Antonine Fort or Stone Fort I. It ran around AD 180 to AD 200, and was sited more or less in the location of the latest fort (the one whose walls are visible today).
* VI-A-1 is a wall foundation running north-south, most likely a barrack.
* VI-A-2 is a road surface. Can't tell exactly what it's doing, as later stonework is on top of it. But it may be part of the so-called "intervallum road" that ran around the inside of Stone Fort I's fort walls.
* VI-A-3 is a well-laid stone drain that was set into some of the VI-A-2 road surface and runs north-south.

Period VI-B (one item - the blue circle) -- This is the very short-lived Severan period (about AD 205 to AD 213).
* VI-B-1 is a small "roundhouse" -- one of dozens that were built in neat rows across the old fort platform in this period. Their use is still debated.

Period VII (items in yellow) -- This is Stone Fort II, the fort built by the IV Cohort of Gauls, who occupied Vindolanda from AD 213 until at least about AD 369.
* VII-1 is the grand flagged roadway from the fort's main entrance (the northern entrance) all the way to the HQ.
* VII-2 is a barrack block, one of three located in the NW quadrant of the fort (the other two were dug in '09, and make up the bulk of the stones visible to the right in this picture)

What's important to keep in mind is that all three of these periods are -totally- independent of each other. At the end of the Antonine period, the fort was knocked down -- leveled to the ground -- to make a smooth platform for the Severan roundhouses. After less than a decade, all of the Severan roundhouses were themselves knocked to the ground and the site leveled to build Stone Fort II.

Oh, and for a last orientation, here's a plan of where the pic is taken from:
Posted Image

'Area A'
Curse you and your good advice! It's true, there does appear to be a -lot- of Antonine road surface showing. OK, pending confirmation of what we're seeing I'll recolor (and throw in a little map too). With good color choice I could probably get the main road in there too. Hopefully can avoid looking like something my 3-year-old colored. :D

'Area A'
I'm loving these latest pics! There's just so much going on. Let's see if I've got this one right:
Posted Image

Antonine (Period VI-A, late 2nd Century):
* Road surfaces (green)
* Drainage gulley down middle of road (purple)
* Wall foundation (yellow)

Severan (Period VI-B, very early 3rd Century):
* "Roundhouse" (blue)

Garrison of the IV Cohort of Gauls (Periods VII-VII, 3rd - 4th Century):
* Barrack walls (brown) along with the higher-up stones/surfaces within the walls

Is that right?

"Area A" Team Photos 2010
Area A team. Week 11, 13-17 June (pic & names courtesy Averil&Ian).

Some of Andy's team

Standing on rampart (left to right):
Julia Rand, Helen Wakely, Lesley Todd.

Seated on rampart:
Mike McGuire, Faith Morgan, Marina Welsh, Alice Williamson, Ian & Averil McHaffie, Linda Moore, Victoria Duffy, Max Todd, Lorna Baldwin, Keith Moore.

On ground at front:
Laurence Ferland, Benoit Proulx, Tom Ashworth.

Area B Team Photos 2010
A tablet in Area B?? Fantastic!!

All Roads Lead to Vindolanda Roman Fort
Originally posted at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/outdoors/7850041/All-roads-lead-to-Vindolanda-Roman-Fort.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

All roads lead to Vindolanda Roman Fort
The Birley family have toiled for 60 years to unearth Roman artefacts at Vindolanda Roman Fort in Northumbria, says Juliet Rix.

By Juliet Rix
Published: 12:34PM BST 25 Jun 2010

In a picturesque Northumbrian valley a mile south of Hadrian's Wall, Andrew Birley stands surrounded by a checkerboard of Roman remains. He is supervising a small crowd of volunteer excavators unearthing a 1,600-year-old flagstone road. They have just dug up a small stone altar with a potentially interesting inscription. Andrew is the third generation of his family to run the excavations here at Vindolanda Roman Fort. It's an unusual family business.

"I tried to put my children off," says Dr Robin Birley, 75, Andrew's father and head of research at Vindolanda. "But one of them didn't listen." Robin is sitting outside the site museum with his wife, Patricia, (Andrew's mother), director of the Vindolanda Trust and curator of the museum, and younger brother, Prof Anthony Birley (Tony), an eminent Ancient Historian. Barbara Birley (Andrew's wife), assistant curator and customer services manager, is inside, working. Patricia and Robin have run the Vindolanda Trust for all of its 40 years, and Robin and Tony's connection goes back even further.

"I was born in that room," Tony says, pointing up to a first-floor window above the museum. "One of the other offices was our bedroom," Robin adds. In 1929, their father, Prof Eric Birley, a Roman historian recently out of Oxford, persuaded his father to help him buy at auction the farm that included the remains of Vindolanda a pre-Hadrianic Roman fort incorporated into Hadrian's defences when the Wall was built in AD 122. The cottage of Chesterholm now (after nine extensions) the Vindolanda Museum came with it.

"There is a tree nearby that we used to climb to hide when boring academics came to visit our father," Robin says. "Once an eminent Israeli was bending over to examine a [Roman] altar and I had a catapult." He grins and mimes pulling the elastic back and firing. Both brothers laugh. "We were very unpopular."

Robin ran his first excavation at Vindolanda at age 14, assisted by Tony, 11. "I was given my father's senior excavator to keep me right and he put me in a place where he knew I would find something and might get hooked." Sixty years on, he is still hooked. Vindolanda now owned by the Vindolanda Trust and welcoming 85,000 visitors a year (providing its only regular income) is in his blood. "You are retiring next year, aren't you Robin?" Tony asks. Robin hesitates: "I shall stop taking my meagre salary," he says carefully. "But I shan't stop working. There is too much to do."

It is now known that there are the remains of nine successive Roman forts under the turf of Vindolanda, each accompanied by a sizeable civilian settlement. They were mostly built one on top of the other and because of the way the Romans covered one layer of building before starting the next, thousands of artefacts have been remarkably well preserved. The best can be seen in the site museum (see below).

Vindolanda's most famous finds, however, are the "Vindolanda Tablets" slivers of wood written on in ink, like 2,000-year-old postcards: requests for food and warm socks, invitations and a tetchy reference to "wretched little Brits".

The first tablet was found by Robin in 1973 ("he was always the one who found things," Tony says) and they are now in the British Museum. They offer telling glimpses of day-to-day life at the outer edge of the Roman Empire and have made the Birleys feel very connected to their predecessors. The tablets also show that senior Roman officers had their wives and children here and there were hunting expeditions and parties. Contrary to popular belief, Tony says, this was not a hardship posting.

Robin and Patricia were teachers when they first took on the full-time running of Vindolanda (Robin for a while at Gordonstoun where he is credited with getting Prince Charles into Cambridge to read Archaeology). At Vindolanda they lived on "half a teacher's salary" and worried constantly about the Trust's survival. "We started with a field, a shed of tools and 20. It was tough," Patricia admits. "It wouldn't suit everyone, but it suited us." And it seems to suit Andrew and Barbara, too. "It isn't glamorous," Andrew admits, "but anyone who works in an 'office' as beautiful as this has nothing to complain about."

So will a fourth generation of Birleys take over at Vindolanda? "Our three year-old loves it up here," Barbara says. "But they will probably want respectable jobs," Andrew says, adding that at least Vindolanda is now well established.

"Hopefully the family's legacy is that Vindolanda can go forward with or without us," he says. For now, it is definitely with, as Andrew returns to his band of enthusiastic amateur excavators attentively digging for the next treasure in Vindolanda's archaeologically fertile soil.

Vindolanda (01434 344277; vindolanda.com) is open to visitors daily from Feb-Oct. Excavators must be aged 15-plus (no experience necessary). From 2011 there will be on site accommodation for 10 people
'Vindolanda Tablets'
Ceremonial headdress for a cavalry horse
Footwear belonging to the CO and his family (AD 103), right
Medusa-imaged gold ring (found in a latrine drain)
Massive carved stone altar to Jupiter Dolichenus (found last year on show from 2011)
Bronze horse perhaps a cavalry troop's emblem

June 27-July 1 dig
Quick note that, alas, I'm missing another year of digging. Hope all enjoy Friends' night, and please take pics & post 'em. I'm always happy to help get files & stories up, so don't be shy about sending a message to ask for help! It's great for folks to be able to follow the dig throughout the year, so the more pictures & stories & anecdotes, the better!

It's now been far too long since I last had trowel in soil. For WeDig to really represent volunteer diggers, I'd like to invite any who are more up-to-date on digger perspectives to offer suggestions, advice, and time. If you have Web or forum experience, WeDig would also benefit from extra hands manning & tweaking the behind-the-scenes functions, working on new pages, updating dig maps/plans, whatever the site needs going forward.

Sincere thanks to all who have devoted -- and are devoting -- time & energy to building WeDig to what it is today. The sky's the limit on what it can grow into, it's just up to the passion & imagination of its members.

Beth's Area
The following from PaulineM (making sure it gets in -- the original photos may have been too big, so downsized them a bit):

"Have been back to Beth's area for two days, on 14 and 15 June so can update
on digging progress. Beth has asked people to put "low level" photos on here
which is why there are no background details.

Previous photo 53 shows the area looking NE. Kevin and Beth were working in
the trench which is now full of water. The water came courtesy of a
leaking Victorian drainage pipe which was ceremoniously smashed by Kevin one
afternoon so that water would drain from it into this trench. You can see
the pipe just above the water line. To the right is an extension of the
original trench. The digger trundled up from the construction site one
lunchbreak to whisk off the turf and Beth's cunning plan was to pretend all
this deturfing had been done by her and Kevin during the lunchbreak.

Previous photo 55 is the area to the left of 53 and is looking N. To the
left of the planks for whellbarrow access (shown in 53) are two new trenches
going in to "see what's going on."

Two new photos are 73 and 76. 73 shows Kevin and his trusty wheelbarrow and
is at Beth's request. Photo 76 is looking north and is an update of photo
55. It shows Kevin straightening the edge of a much deeper area. You can
spot the Victorian pipe making an appearance in the area to the right.

-- Pauline"