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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!

How significant is the new altar?
I've been reading the press releases, etc. And it strikes me that the shrine found at the end of June is unique -- that nowhere else has a shrine been found within the walls of a fort.

Is that accurate? If so, that's pretty incredible.

If this was the 4th Century when it was set up, maybe I could see it. I mean, the vicus seems to have moved inside the walls by then, so why not the religious places too. But from the press releases, it sounds like the cult of Dolichenus had died out by the 4th C. So the altar was almost certainly made in the 3rd -- an apparently "safe & secure" time in which the vicus & other temples spread out far from the protection of the fort walls.

Anyway, it's cool enough to have a new altar & confirmation of another commanding officer's name for Vindolanda. But is this thing really yet again rewriting the map of what we know about Roman military practice as a whole?

And again, I missed it by one day.

Amazing find unearthed at Vindolanda
originally appearing at: http://haltwhistle.journallive.co.uk/2009/07/amazing-find-unearthed-at-vind.html

A massive altar to an eastern god has been discovered on the Northumbrian Roman frontier.

The altar has been unearthed at shrine discovered during current excavations at Vindolanda Roman fort. Unusually, the shrine is inside the fort, with the altar dedicated to Jupiter of Doliche, whose cult centre was in modern southern Turkey.

The altar inscription reads: "To Jupiter Best and Greatest of Doliche, Sulpicius Pudens, prefect of the Fourth Cohort of Gauls, fulfilled his vow gladly and deservedly." Sulpicius Pudens was the commanding officer of the of the regiment, which originated from modern-day France, and was based at Vindolanda in the Third Century. Vindolanda director of excavations Andrew Birley said: "What should have been part of a rampart near to the north gate of the fort has turned out to be an amazing religious shrine."

The altar shows the god standing on a bull, holding an axe and a thunderbolt, and is estimated to weigh 1.5 tonnes. The other side depicts a jar and a shallow dish.

Mr Birley said: "Major altars like this are very rare finds and to discover such a shrine inside the fort is highly unusual. The shrine also has evidence of animal sacrifice and possible religious feasting. It all adds to the excitement of the excavations and is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most excavators."

Prof Anthony Birley, chairman of the Vindolanda Trust, said that Sulpicius Pudens was 'surely' the same man who was named as commander of the Fourth Gauls on another altar, found in 1949 reused in a medieval tower of Staward Pele, four miles from Vindolanda. He said the god was originally an ancient weather deity but later "the cult took off and spread all over the empire, in frontier provinces, being favoured by officers and men of the Roman army."

Patricia Birley, director of the Vindolanda Trust, said alters were often dedicated to gods as thanks for granting requests and wishes. "Perhaps what the prefect had asked for had come to pass and he fulfilled his vow by paying out for this expensive stone," she said. "It would have cost him a bob or two." The shrine has also given up the bottom half of a second altar, dedicated by a prefect of the Second Cohort of Nervians, who came from what is now the French-Belgian border area.

After serving at Vindolanda, they transferred to Whitley Castle fort in the South Tyne Valley. The fort, known as Epiacum to the Romans, has seven layers of defences in the form of ditches and banks - one of only three sites in the country to have such a complex system. It is just off the Pennine Way and on the Maiden Way, which linked Whitley Castle with Carvoran fort on Hadrian's Wall and, in the opposite direction, Kirby Thore fort near Appleby in Cumbria. It is believed that the main purpose of the fort was to control the lead mining on Alston Moor.

New Digger's Guide section: "A Bag of 'Typical' Finds"
Hey again all. On my too-brief recent trip, I got a chance to wash a bag of pottery from Andy's 4th C levels. The spread was so neat, it seemed like a good source for a new Digger's Guide section. Anyone interested, please have a look: http://s9.zetaboards.com/We_Dig_Vindolanda/pages/typical_finds/

Always dangerous to call -anything- typical at Vindolanda. But it seemed like there could be some real value to a new digger in getting some first clue about what's lurking in the ground. Beyond the sensational-but-rare museum-worthy finds! Any comments, suggestions, thoughts most appreciated, as always.

Also, a new random white box has started appearing on the top of my screen on all my WeDig pages. If anyone else is seeing it, or strange ads, or whatever -- please let me know. I've just re-upped my ad removal for the site, but I want to make sure that it's working.

- Harry

How to start a bar brawl
Word to the wise: when flash-spamming a camera at the Twicey, take care where you point!

(PS: Nice girlie drink David.)

Altar Discovery!!!

Welcome to the site, Hadriana -- that's what I call a grand entrance! And huge thanks to you, Andy, for greenlighting the announcement here. So many bombshells in one -- a new commander, a whole new regiment. And I missed it all by a day!

The altar in the pic was obviously bashed all to heck. Had it (and the other) been reused as a wall foundation? Was it one of those annual dedication altars that commanders would put up every new year (like the series found at Maryport)?

Neat. Just really neat. Congrats to those who found it.

Area B, June 2009
Brilliant pic & diagram! Fluid indeed. Would the Antonine bits be part of the "military annex"? Or did you stumble on some of the elusive early vicus?

Also, could that roadside ditch have been a surface aqueduct? I think I remember Justin finding similar waterchannels alongside roads to the NW.

Roman wall repair scheme complete
original article at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/tyne/8129897.stm

Roman wall repair scheme complete
Essential conservation work to protect a stretch of Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland has been completed.

An 800m section of the 2,000-year-old Roman wall at Great Chesters, near Haltwhistle, was in poor repair because of weather and animal grazing. Natural England funded a 250,000 scheme at the site, which began in November and involved repair work on an adjoining dry stone wall.

The site has now been taken off English Heritage's At Risk Register.

A spokesman for English Heritage said: "The funding has helped to secure the future of both an important section of Hadrian's Wall, and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)."

Mike Collins, Hadrian's Wall archaeologist at English Heritage, added: "This section of Hadrian's Wall is a fantastic survival from our Roman past, and one which allows us to see the detail of the original Roman construction work on the wall."

Natural England worked in partnership with English Heritage, Hadrian's Wall Heritage, the Northumberland National Park and the owner of the site.

Area A. The barracks
Michael, it was great to finally meet you in person at Friends' Night. Thanks again so much for all of these pics! It'll be a lot of fun at the end of the season to piece together the story of the dig.

This late fort (4th Century & beyond, Periods VIII, IX, and X) is really fascinating. It kind of throws the book out about what we used to know about fort life. I saw a lot while visiting, and Andy & Justin's talks at Friends' Night were a huge help making sense of it. The evidence is overwhelming that from ~AD 300 all the populace of Vindolanda had moved inside the fort walls. The NW corner, which had once held standard barracks in the 3rd C (Period VII), had become -extremely- un-barrack-like throughout the 4th. Individual houses started taking on their own footprints, there is evidence for leanto's, additions, etc. And from what I can see, it all seems rather higgledy-piggledy. It's hard to picture a garrison commander just letting it all go unsupervised, but right now it's hard to say what kind of oversight he exercised.

Andy says one of the big questions he's asking this year is "Was the fort wall the great divide" -- was there a harsh distinction between "military" inside the walls and "civilian" outside. The question's kind of moot in the 4th C, since -all- people were living inside. But it'll still be very interesting to see if these houses all contained civilian shops, or if military barracks were interspersed. It's also a huge test of archaeology itself -- can physical remains -really- tell you what you need to know about who a person was & how they lived?

There is also growing evidence for significant post-Roman activity. Anglo-Saxon artefacts keep coming up (I'll leave it to others more knowledgeable to post & discuss -- hint, hint!), as do buildings that were clearly built & occupied into the 5th C. There's almost no doubt now that Vindolanda remained vibrant well after the Roman occupation officially ended. The big question is, what was the nature of it? Was it a warlord's fortress? A defended civilian community? A monastic centre? All of the above?

It all just looks like a lot of fun. Wish I could hop back on a plane and be digging tomorrow!

What a trip
Wow, can't believe how fast that trip went. Old friends & new, it was -SO AWESOME- to be back over to hang out. The bug has hit hard, I'm already scrounging around for ways to stock the piggy bank for next year! (Even the 24-hour odyssey of hire-car returning, jet-hopping, bus-taking, security-screening, customs-anarchy-surviving, thunderstorm-flight-delaying can't dampen my enthusiam.)

Tons of stuff I want to write up for the site, but for starters, a few memories:

1. Kate, Bryan, & Adrian playing the classic "Shovel, Trowel, or Spade?"
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2. Sophie & Rosie in cowboy-chic.
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3. David, with 1/3 of a barrow load.
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4. Eddie & Bob, brightening up a dreary morning.
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5. Kate, en route to Masada.
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6. Anthea, "I'm a trustee, we SOOOOO don't dig!"
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