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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!

Week 13
Thanks for the update! Hearing rumors swirling about the awesomeness of the carved stone. Hope to see a picture of it if anyone has. :) Sounds like a great week so far.

Area of Excavations 2011
END OF WEEK 12
(June 20 - June 24)

Continuing under Site #5, and returning to southern tip of the old Site #2.
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All reports were rain, rain, & more rain. Making for a slow & frustrating week. But there were bright spots. WeDig'er Rosie reports 4 main teams. 3 continued in Site #5, working up and down the barrack to the left of Temple Ave. One team in the centurion's quarters at the northern end came down on yet another of the Severan roundhouses. A second team in the barracks was well down into 2nd Century layers, even digging up pre-Hadrianic pottery. The third worked at the southern edge of the barrack amid a muddle of drains, road, & ditch. The fourth team was across Temple Avenue at the southern end of the right-hand (eastern) barrack block, back in Site #2 which was the focus of the early weeks this year. They too seem to have been sorting through various ditch/road/drain bits.

Apparently clear skies and warm for Week 13. Please keep sending in tidbits. A picture, a sentence, a paragraph. Whatever you have time/incliation for. And happy digging, summer WeDig'ers!

Inscriptions
Looks like a 19th C thing. A Google Search on the exact name "Twice Brew'd Ale" in quotes shows two hits: one is a book by the 19th C Wall-walker/writer Henry MacLaughlan, in the 1850s. The other is an index of all the towns/villages from 1822. Nothing before, nothing since. Cool find!

Reserve List
I don't know the details, but I know there is some sort of reserve list. The quickest & surest way to get details would be to contact Vindolanda directly. The staff who monitor info@vindolanda.com respond very quickly. Also, if you're on Twitter, you can send @vindolandatrust a Tweet.

Good luck! It really is an awesome place to dig.

- Harry

Week 11 pictures
Now, now Tim. We had the luxury of finding cobble nestled nicely on top of cobble. Look at the black, gooey mess they've got now.

Week 11 pictures
WeDig'ers Ian & Averil have sent a fabulous batch of pics from last week's dig. Here they are, with their notes. Jealous of the rest of the June & later lot who might get to be in levels like this!

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Small samian bowl with potter's stamp

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Misecellaneous finds - pottery, glass from a square bottle, nail

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Andrew Birley (watched by Kevin Kerr) begins to dig down on floor beneath the early 3rd century AD Severan Roundhouses - to reach the floor level at beginning of 2nd century AD.

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Floor level contains 'laminate' i.e. layers of bracken/straw, the right type of material to preserve writing tablets. The flooring is dug out, placed in barrow and sifted by hand - done here by Andrew Birley.

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Justin Blake digging further, while Andrew Birley, Kevin Kerr and Karen Pidduck carefully sift the material placed in barrow.

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Surprise: wooden beams, 3 feet wide. White labels mark upright wooden posts chopped off in Roman times. Anthony Birley looking on.

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Wow! The beams are part of the top of a - water tank? About 3ft square with a wooden surround. Period IV fort, i.e. time of Emperor Trajan, before Hadrian's Wall.

Week 12
If anyone's on site that can drop a line about where folks are digging & what's coming up, we'd love to hear. It sounds like teams are coming down onto some well-preserved early stuff. Don't leave us hanging!

Area of Excavations 2011
END OF WEEK 11
(June 13 - June 17)

Location provisional, seems to be still Site #5, inside the barrack block west of "Temple Avenue"
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The digging seems to be continuing downward underneath the floor levels of the 3rd Century barrack block. Reports are coming in now of very well-preserved wood, probably from early-to-mid 2nd Century (pre-Antonine) levels. Ian & Averil sent a note reporting the possible top of a wooden water tank peeking up!! Proof again that just a few feet below the ground the preservation at Vindolanda is striking.

If you have time, take a look through the quick flip-through page of the various occupation periods.* What's visible at the surface is mostly VII-X. The levels diggers have now gone down to are probably periods IV and V. These early periods are completely unrelated to anything visible at the surface of the site. They date to a much larger early Vindolanda fort that was in use at the time that Hadrian's Wall was being built in the 120s AD. This fort would have had wooden walls, and wooden barrack buildings. So if preservation holds, all kinds of amazing posts, walls, floors, fencing, etc. might still lie intact. As well as the answers to a lot of questions about just how the early forts were laid out. Really exciting stuff!

* This flip-through was made in early 2009 before the late barracks were uncovered & recorded. Site #5 above lies right about where the "north pointer" symbol is.

Area of Excavations 2011
END OF WEEK 10
(June 6 - June 10)

Continued push on Site #5 in prep for aerial crane camera
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Week 10 was all about the final cleaning of the barrack block just west of Temple Avenue down to its original 3rd Century layout. This involved removing the last bits of a 4th C workshop, trying to make sense of various pits and wobbly floors, and the usual head-scratchers. Word from all is that it looks stunning. Looking forward to pictures from the week if & as possible! Reports of more great finds, lovely pottery, the remains of another Severan roundhouse, and a probable pre-Antonine (meaning early 2nd Century) ditch that is causing the Antonine (and later?) walls to subside.

From all reports, the teams this year so far have come up with archaeology that is going to be visible, gorgeous, & very educational to visitors for years or decades to come. Thanks to el kevano, Lyn A, and Justin for great info. Can't wait to see the pictures from maryb_10!

Dating of Vindolanda
Great question! I'll try to make a start. The first period, AD 85, is based on samian pottery. There's a very distinctive type of decorated bowl that changed from one style to another at about AD 85. In the lowest levels of Vindolanda, they found the later style, and none of the earlier style. That suggests a date after about AD 85. Then they also found maker's marks from a potter with similar work known from Pompeii, which of course went ka-bloo-ey in AD 79. So that means that the 1st period, if it was after AD 85, is probably not far after AD 85. AD 85 is a good, educated base to start it all.

Period II is based on the estimated lifespan of the wood used in its construction. It was weak, and probably had at best 10 years in it. These dates are a bit fluid. Period I is sometimes now shown as 85-90, Period II 90-100. Whatever the exact dates, the pottery & wood evidence puts it all within 2-3 years.

Period III is where most of the writing tablets have come from. And they have enough names from other known historical figures that it's pinned down pretty well. The ending is very well known. The Batavian cohort shows up clear across the empire in Dacia at the end of 105. Taking that date with the immense clutter of the fort remains they left, it's clear they left Vindolanda in a real hurry, probably late summer 105.

Period IV's shift into Period V in ~AD 120 is a bit of a question mark. But logic says big changes happened at Vindolanda when Hadrian's crews started building the Wall in AD 122. So that's a good break.

As far as I know, the end of Period V/beginning of Period VI is the biggest question mark. -Probably- around AD 140, because again this is the time of big change on the Wall. The Wall was abandoned and Antoninus Pius built the new Antonine Wall much farther north. Vindolanda wasn't abandoned, but certainly its role/garrison greatly changed.

Period VI and VI-A are rough, largely based on the kinds of pottery and coinage that have come up. Period VI-B was very short-lived. This can be seen from the pottery/coinage as well as the fact that none of the buildings were repaired or renovated. And again, the most likely reason for the change into Period VI-B was Severus's campaigns up into Scotland. So a beginning of about AD 208 seems to make the most sense.

Period VII has an excellently dated dedication stone to Caracalla of AD 213. That one's about as exact as anybody could hope for! Its end is a bit unclear. After AD 280 and before AD 300, based on how the coinage dates die out for the end of the century. The fort may have even been abandoned at the end of the century for some years.

Period VIII is clear from the coinage to start with Constantine in the very early 4th C. The end of it at ~AD 367 is based on the historical assault by the Picts/Saxons of that year. Period IX shows clear Roman ideas of plumbing & heating, so it seems to fall within the "Roman" era. But it's unskilled and lacking in military discipline -- the type of stuff you'd expect from cheap troops posted to an outpost in the very last few decades of Roman civilization.

And then Period X, which is given a date of AD 410 just because it's convenient. Its ending is completely unknown. Maybe AD 600. Maybe AD 900. Too much disturbance to the soil to tell much of anything for sure, except that a non-Roman but still somewhat literate & civilized community lived there for generations after the end of the empire in Britain.

Does any of that make sense?

The best background for more detail is Robin Birley's "Vindolanda: A Roman Frontier Fort on Hadrian's Wall" (Amberley Publishing, 2009)

Week 10?
Any intrepid WeDig'ers on the scene this week? Justin's Twitter feed filled with gems as usual, anybody have a story or a few pics to flesh it out?

New Website
Love it -- thanks for the heads-up!

Week 9
Amazing pictures Sue! Thanks much for them, looks like you had a busy week! And that samian bowl is incredible, can't believe how much of it was there.

Also, here are links to Terry S & Pauline's photo libraries from Week 9.

1st (beginning of week): http://www.cig.canon-europe.com/p?p=BFYLyxyiJ2j&t=kpC
2nd (mid-day Thursday): http://www.cig.canon-europe.com/p?p=DTX3mkUnKGj&t=kpC
3rd (end of week): http://www.cig.canon-europe.com/p?p=Cddmp3cFkS5&t=kpC

EDIT: BTW, I thought Sunny & I had found a cool flagged floor. Now I know what a cool flagged floor looks like! Love the pictures of the one you worked on, Sue.

Area of Excavations 2011
END OF WEEK 9
(May 30 - June 3)

Heavy focus on the expanded Site #5, continued work on Site #6
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*** Note the updated plan for the barrack in Site #5. The overlying 4th-5th C remains have been removed from the site, revealing the orderly 3rd C barrack block in its entirety: 8 apartments for regular soldiers, and a suite of rooms at the north end for the centurion. (Divisions in the centurion's block partially conjectural.) ***

Week 9 went from cold & clammy to full sun & scorching, with some hard digging. The heavy focus of the week was clearing all of the rooms in the Site #5 barrack block down to their original 3rd Century levels. And then to start going underneath, to the Severan & Antonine periods below. The barrack is well-preserved in places, with some walls still up to 6 courses high including foundation. The east-facing doorways are visible in most of the barrack rooms.

Within the rooms were some interesting finds of stone storage boxes, evidence of burning/fire pits, as well as some wonderful small finds -- a spearhead, stamped objects, most of a highly decorated samian bowl, much else.

One of the barracks revealed a truly impressive semicircular flagstone floor underneath its surface. Andy says that the floor predates the barrack that was built on top of it. He also says that in places diggers have come down onto levels from the AD 160s. (Keep in mind, that means that those levels have nothing to do with the currently visible barrack block -- they relate to the Antonine period fort and its arrangement of buildings/roads.)

In cleaning up the verandah area in front of the barrack block (which would be the east side -- facing "Temple Avenue"), diggers also starting delving beneath the 3rd Century levels into the Severan/Antonine below. Walls, footings, foundation rubble, and other truncated stone features have come up. Not sure yet if any sense has been made of how they relate to each other.

Lastly, other diggers continued peeling away the multiple road surfaces of the intervallum road in Site #6; no reports of finds or discoveries from there.

All in all it seems that, once consolidated, Temple Avenue and its well-preserved barrack blocks on either side should look awesome. Visitors will be able to get a true & coherent sense of space. Pretty cool.

Much thanks to Terry S & Sue Monro for details & pictures, as well as to Andy for helping fill in the blanks. Please visit the Week 9 page for great pictures & links of the barrack rooms and the samian pottery.

Week 9
Room "F"
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No one in here today.

Room "G"
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No one digging in this room today.

Room "H"
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Anthea busy packing up.

Room "I"
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Consolidation progress of fort can be seen in rooms immediately behind this one in the foreground.

As you can see, in general the best preservation is in the middle (about rooms D-H). Some of the barracks still have several of their wall courses intact. And if you notice, the northern (right-hand) edge of each barrack still has its doorway intact & visible. Very cool!

Many thanks again to TerryS for the great photos & descriptions.

Week 9
(Terry's notes from Monday under each photo)

Centurion's quarters, "A"
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Clearing up time Day 1. First in a sequence of barrack rooms going from north to south of site. Centurion's room.

Room "B"
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No one working in this room today.

Room "C"
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Work now in progress in front of room at side of road.

Room "D"
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No one in this room today. Diggers working in front of room.

Room "E"
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No one in this room today. Diggers working in front of room.

Week 9
Alright, more of TerryS's uploads coming.

But first, a big change to the plan. Up to now, the row of barracks/apartments immediately west of Temple Ave showed their 4th C layout. (Or the best I could put together of it.) Now, much of that overburden is gone, and the orderly, high-quality 3rd Century barrack block is being revealed. On Monday Terry took a fabulous series of each room in the barrack. With that, I've been able to redraw the plan showing the barrack in place:
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The letters A-I label individual rooms in the barrack. "A" is the centurion's suite at the northern end. "B" through "I" are the rooms for the regular soldiers, several soldiers living in each room.

Following are Terry's series of photos showing each room.