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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!

Mike's Geoblog
Mike, again this is really fascinating stuff. I had no idea one could polarize light and determine minerals by how they rotate that light. Love it! Sounds like another cool tool to use in learning not just about a site, but about how the landscape was used in creating it.

Here's one I've been wondering for a while. Are there examples of the transition from sand to stone -- like a sand deposit that's just starting to become sandstone? I always either see sand, or proper sandstone; I can't recall seeing an outcrop anywhere of a sand that has started to cement together but hasn't finished yet.

More Area A (and vicinity) pics
WeDig'er timadams dropped a nice note with a link to some pics from his dig in mid-June. Nice shots of the trenches -- and an impressive collection of bone from the rampart! Many thanks for the link!

Also, Tim mentions a rare treat: a recent (2008), feature-length DVD documentary on the Wall (including lots on Vindolanda and an interview with Andy) available in North American format: Alistair Moffat's "The Wall: Rome's Greatest Frontier". (The PAL version plays at the Once Brewed Visitor's Centre and can be purchased there, as well as amazon.co.uk.) Want to show befuddled friends and family why you dig? Tim says this just might help. I just bought a copy, and am looking forward to watching through it. Thanks for the tip!

Photos from June 27-July 1 dig
Beautiful pictures - thanks for sharing! My favorite: "Metal Thing." Found one or two of those in my trenches. And that samian river god is a real treat.

Area B photos - mid-July
Link worked perfectly for me, but I've got a Facebook account. Would love for someone without FB account to try it and see if it comes up. These pics -- and Justin's trench -- are just choc-a-bloc. What a site.

2009's Area A excavation dropping down
Also found this picture on a family's vacation blog, says to be of July 14:
Posted Image
(site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/10008488@N07/4790724937/)

This is the area first excavated in 2009, with the volunteers now digging down from the 4th Century levels presumably looking for the original early 3rd Century floors.
Posted Image

Blog post digging Area A early July
Just found this in a search: http://aretiredlife.blogspot.com/2010/07/vindolanda.html

Neat story about what sounds like a tough week!

Inscribed & stamped samian ware
And the crew that found them (left to right: Alice Williamson, Julia Rand, Averil McHaffie, Helen Wakely).

Nicely done!

Anyone is welcome to send in pics and thoughts on your dig or visit. Lots of folks are interested in what's going on from week to week! If you have any concerns, or issues posting them, please feel free to drop me a line at: text_style@hotmail.com. I'll gladly help.

Inscribed & stamped samian ware
Great pics of a great find from Averil&Ian via e-mail:

Samian bowl with potter's stamp (REGINVS F) on one side, and owner's graffiti – Metacius? – on the other.

Job Offering: Learning Officer
Found in Guardian online. For more info, see http://jobs.guardian.co.uk/job/1010226/learning-officer/?utm_source=jobs.guardian.co.uk

The Vindolanda Trust (Registered Charity No. 500210), as part of its Heritage Lottery Fund and ONE NorthEast funded development project, has the following employment opportunity:

Full Time Learning Officer (HLF Funded)

An exciting opportunity has arisen for a committed, flexible and enthusiastic person to join the existing team at Vindolanda to progress learning and volunteer opportunities for a wide range of users. The successful applicant will;

Liaise with colleagues and input into specific learning projects and programmes.
Work with the archaeological & learning team, to ensure that the programmes designed for the Vindolanda & Roman Army Museum education users and volunteers reach the standards required by the Vindolanda Trust.
Measure outcomes to plan and evaluate the learning programmes.
This is a 3 year fixed term post with a starting salary of £22,800 per annum. A full job description and application form can be found at: www.vindolanda.com

For informal information contact Fiona or Patricia on Tel: 01434 344 277

Closing date for receipt of completed applications is Wed 11th August 2010, 4pm.

Interviews will be held at Vindolanda on Thurs 19th August 2010

The Vindolanda Trust is an Equal Opportunities Employer

The Persistence of Misinformation
Turns out a Roman fort in the Netherlands also contained preserved writing tablets: http://www.nu.nl/wetenschap/2289290/romeinse-schrijfplankjes-ontdekt-in-utrecht.html. (The site is in Dutch; if you have a newer browser, there's probably a "Translate" feature you can use which will help give an idea of the text.)

Three things are striking:

* These were found 30 years ago by "amateur archaeologists" (apparently digging deep enough to reach preserved organic remains).
* They then sat in somebody's freezer, submerged in water and partially frozen (a non-optimal preservation method!), for a generation.
* (Translated) "Never before have so many pieces of Roman writing tablet [been] found in one place." Umm, Vindolanda anyone?

There's actually no mention of Vindolanda at all in the article, with its thousands of tablets & fragments. Or the fact that the type found in the Netherlands (recessed wooden planks meant to hold wax & therefore reusable) is almost impossible to decipher because of the numerous overlapping pen-scratches they hold. All of which they'd know if they'd known anything of the work of Vindolanda conservators.

At least they're now reaching out to experts at Oxford who have some experience & understanding of this material. Better late than never?

For followups (involving strong opinions), see Roman Army Talk's forum: http://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=29576&p=267418

Vindolanda Visitors Go Roaming in Roman Era
(original article located at: http://www.hexhamcourant.co.uk/news/news-at-a-glance/vindolanda-visitors-go-roaming-in-roman-era-1.731630?referrerPath=/hx-news-and-sport-1.257779)

By MYLES HODNETT myles.hodnett@hexham.courant.co.uk

Fact number one: The Romans drank real ale so they must have been pretty decent fellows.

Fact number two: Get on the wrong side of them and you’d probably end up with a spear stuck through your head.

This was less decent and got a whole lot messier when they’d follow this up by decapitation, before parading your head around on a big stick. Sounds like they were an interesting bunch, and indeed they were, if what we know about the garrisons at Vindolanda are anything to go by. You pick up all sorts of snippets of information, like the ones above, during a visit to this Roman fort.

Or should that be forts, because what you see today is the latest of a number of buildings which were built on top of each over a period of about 400 years. The Romans first put roots down there in AD 85 – 40 years before Hadrian built his wall just to the north – and they constructed at least nine forts on the site, before moving out when they all left Britain at the beginning of the fifth century. The earliest buildings were made of wood and lie up to six metres beneath the ground.

But the beauty of Vindolanda is that it’s constantly changing, due to the ongoing excavations which take place every year. Director of excavations, Andrew Birley, is the latest of his family to oversee the archaeological work. His grandfather first excavated Vindolanda – or Chesterholm to give it its Roman name – in 1929.

The excavation season runs from April to September every year, and attracts volunteers from all over the world. They do their bit to uncover more of the site and shed more light on its past. “There are fantastic finds all the time,” said Andrew. “A day does not go by without something that makes that connection with the people that were here in the past. Last year we found a temple to a god from the east – Dolichenus (Jupiter of Doliche) – and in front of it we found two fantastic altars. One was complete with the relief of the god riding a bull with a lightning bolt in one hand and an axe in the other. He was a weather god. The weather was absolutely crucial to the Romans – more than it is to us today.

“This remarkable find was found on day two of the excavation by a couple on their first excavation. They have helped to change the view of what we find in a Roman fort.”

Modern-day changes are also on the horizon at Vindolanda with the museum on the site and the associated Roman Army Museum near Greenhead due to be completely redeveloped this winter. The Vindolanda Trust, which runs both sites, has commissioned a 3D film which will show how the forts of Carvoran, Vindolanda, and Hadrian’s Wall looked in their former glory.

“There’ll be reconstructed in photo-realistic 3D CGI,” enthused Andrew. “It will be absolutely amazing.”

Of course any mention of Vindolanda has to go hand in hand with the tablets. Nearly 2,000 of these wax coated slivers of wood – the Roman equivalent of the post-it note – have been found and they provide a fascinating glimpse into normal day-to-day life of the Roman soldiers. The originals are in the British Museum, but some will be brought back to their home next year, to be displayed in the new museum. One of the tablets describes the Britons as ‘wretched’ and castigates them for not bothering to mount to throw javelins. Whatever next?

The Ninth Cohort of Batavians would have made short work of Tynedale Beer Festival, judging by the inscription on another message board. Their officer, Masclus, puts in an urgent order to his commander, not for food or more weapons, but beer. “My fellow soldiers have no beer,” he complains. “Please order some to be sent!”

Vindolanda even had its own pub. God help you if you were a lost Caledonian tribesman and stumbled into the tavern on a Friday night.

It was such an unfortunate chap whose skull was found on the site. Examining the injuries like forensic scientists, archaeologists deduced that this local from north of the Wall was killed by a heavy spear thrust through his head, followed by a hammer blow and a slashing cut just to make sure. His head was then removed from his body and stuck on a pole for all to see, probably with a sign below it saying: “Keep out! This is what happens to Caledonians here!”

Don’t worry. People from all over the world are welcome at Vindolanda today.

The site is open every day during the summer months (until September 30) from 10am-6pm. For other opening times, check with Vindolanda.

Binchester blog up & running
Just a note that the folks an hour southeast of Vindolanda at Binchester Roman fort have returned to their trenches again this summer. There's a daily blog with some neat details of the work: http://binchester.blogspot.com/

They're getting some interesting results from their late fort/town -- such as a vicus (civilian town outside the fort) that survived perhaps a century later than others in northern England (Vindolanda included).

Definitely worth a look!

Mike's Geoblog
Loving this as always Mike. Thanks for the latest post -- and glad to see recovery from dogbites and back strains!

I was curious about shale used as mortar. Reading Eric Birley's excavation reports from the 30s, he seems to have come across Roman mortar with a lot of shale in it around the north gate of the stone fort (Stone Fort II). I had never heard of that anywhere else. (But that may just be me showing my ignorance.) In your travels have you seen shale mortar? Was Prof. Birley right about what he found? I just wonder what it is about shale that makes a good mortar.