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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!

The 2011 Excavation Season
Full info about the 2011 excavation season is now loaded onto the www.vindolanda.com website for information. This also includes details of the archaeological study centre.

Good luck to everyone on the 1st of November at 12noon.

all my best,



Andrew

The 2011 Excavation Season
Dear all,

Some 2011 info about the season before we get going.

1. There will be a 24 week season next year. This will provide for 600 one week places on the excavations - 50 more than last year.
2. The dates for 2011 season will be from the 4th of April to the 16th of September.
3. There will be no breaks in the excavations season, every week is available.
4. There will only be one team, and this team will be working inside the 3rd and 4th century stone forts. No area A or B this year, we are all in it together :-).
5. The maximum number of weeks that you can apply for will be limited to 6 weeks on the booking system.
6. The day will start at 9:30am and finish around 4:30pm. Lunch at noon (1 hour), tea break at 2:45pm.
7. All excavators will be met at the new Archaeological Study Centre each morning and led up to the excavations. There will be no access from the site gate due to health and safety changes and designated changes in use. I am flagging this up now as it is a big change from what people are used to. However, it is important because we need to go through a health and safety presentation with all new volunteers next year before they start, and this will take place in the study centre. There is no skipping this, and all excavators are required to attend this induction session before starting. However, you only have to do it once, so if you are coming for more than one week, you can skip this on your second week. This is also an opportunity to look around the brand new fabulous museum.
8. All excavators who are coming by car are asked to park at the EAST car park at Vindolanda (the one closest to the Study centre, but NOT the study centre car park, this is reserved for residents of the study centre). The excavation staff will be parking in the east car park as well.
9. There will be up to 10 places available in the study centre each week for those who wish to stay there in supreme comfort :-)


The 2011 Excavation Season
The Applications For 2011 will open on the 1st of November at 12noon GMT on the www.vindolanda.com website.

The forms will be similar to those that are familiar with them from last year with only a few minor amendments which we hope will make them easier to use. There will also be information about the archaeological study centre and its booking on the application page.

Major changes are planned for the Vindolanda website this winter - a complete redesign. However, these changes will not come into effect until the spring and will therefor not effect the bookings for the excavations :-)

Vindolanda Excavation Expansion
Hello everyone,

Important notice: You may see on 'WE Dig' that individual excavators have decided to offer volunteers extra activities over and above what the Trust itself is organising. Please note that these will not take place during the normal hours of excavation and are entirely at each individual's discretion so it's up to you whether you participate or not. Please remember that any such activities are not officially associated with the Trust and are not therefore covered by any of our health/safety or other polices. This is an important point for the organisers to consider. If you are leading a large group you may need to consider your own health and safety requirements.

We are now gearing up to the launch of the 2011 excavation places on our official web site on November 1st 2010 and we hope to see many of you at Vindolanda for what we are sure will be an exciting period of digging next year.

All the very best,

Andrew

Vindolanda Excavation Expansion
Just a quick reminder.

The Poll and suggestions are going to be considered as ideas for the NEXT SMC, not this one. This is a long term discussion, not a short one. The next SMC, if given, would come into effect in 2013.

So all the wediggers that are emailing Justin and myself with worried expressions about change and the pace of change, please don't.

This is a consultation to guage interest and an attempt to do things in an orderly way, hence the poll. It can't be done in an orderly way if people keep bombarding us with emails :-), sort of defeats the purpose really.

cheers,

Andy

Vindolanda Excavation Expansion
Hi guys,

A good discussion but fear not about the costs. I know times are tight, I face them as well, but what is on offer is and always will remain tremendous value. What we want to do is offer EVEN more, with EVEN more incredible value. Worry not. Instead allow yourself to be excited if you can.

Here is some context for the debate.........

At present the excavation fees covers less than 10% of the cost of the excavations. That's right, less than 10%.

Even with the massive hike in interest rates, from 15% to 20% (in January) I can promise that the Vindolanda Trust will absorb as much of this as possible without carrying through to the excavators. There will have to be a small increase, based on the VAT hike and inflation but almost all of this will be absorbed and not be passed down to excavators. A small part of the total cost will have to be carried through to maintain the level of what we offer at the moment, and actually improve it, for nothing.

However, if we were to offer courses and extras (and we sincerely hope that we can in the future, for the benefit of you all) there would have to be a small fee to cover them. We can't have it all for nothing, simply because at the end of the day someone has to pay for it, somehow. At present, most of it is not paid for by the excavators, we all owe a huge debt of gratitude to the visitors who come to Vindolanda, without them there would be no excavations at all.

So as you can see, the excavation is incredibly heavily subsidised by the rest of the Vindolanda Trusts operation (general public, cafe, shop), and in all honesty, I cannot ask the Director of the Trust to subsidise it any more than it already is. To be honest, I am grateful that the Director has not come to me as asked for the reverse, for the excavations to carry a more balanced fee based on real costs. The Trustees would be quite within their rights to do so.

Of course I don't like having to charge anything at all, and the Vindolanda Trust is extremely sensitive to peoples needs and its own core requirement of promoting access to archaeology. But we have to be sensible about all of these, leave emotion behind for a minute. You all know the philosophy of the place, it will not change when and if we get the chance to run extras for the excavators. In fact, you will be hard pressed to find anything comparable that is not completely state subsidized or something similar. Of that I can reassure you all.

The Vindolanda Trust looked at what was the main cost of excavating and decided to help as many as possible with the building of the study centre. As a result the new study centre will be on-line by the start of next season, and 10 lucky people a week can stay there, in real comfort. I can firmly state now that the deal that will be on offer with this building is an extremely generous one. Also, added to that, there will be 2 subsidised places per week. Effectively half priced. Full details of these offers and how to apply (who can apply) will be available at launch for the 1st of November.

I will also start a new thread on the wedig site in couple of weeks time with more details for next season as a prelude to how things are developing.

Also as an excavation aside - your memberships to the Friends of Vindolanda has been given a huge boost by what you will be able to see next year as well.

2 new museums with state of the art displays, writing tablets home.....
new site interpretation
A full 3D film to replace the Eagles Eye film at RAM
The Archaeo study centre

There will also be some special Vindolanda excavation volunteer improvements and benefits which are to be announced as well.

What an incredible offer you have already, if I don't say so myself :)


best,

Andy


Vindolanda Excavation Expansion
Thank you to everyone who has voted thus far. There is always a balance to be had but we need to know what you like and what you want more of so that we can keep the excavation a vibrant experience for the future for all of those who take part. There are admin issues of course, but as Harry stated, I see this as a long term discussion on how we can take things forward for the entire community. It is a good start.

Keep voting and keep voting for the second poll as well.

best,

Andrew

Human remains found - murder victim
Its your money, and your pint, do as you will :-)

Human remains found - murder victim
Generally we have avoided the cemeteries and this will remain the case for the moment. Aside from the obvious ethical difficulties, there are serious research issues as well. These days you need to throw a lot of resource at human remains to get as much information as possible from those remains, as we will do with our young victim. This tends not to be possible for a small outfit to cope with in budgetary terms. If money were no object, it would be interesting to take a sample for scientific reasons. You can learn a great deal, and there is little chance of a direct relation objecting. Most archaeologists are scientists, and while we are not unmoved by the human story there is always a balance to be had.

In the UK, attitudes are generally more relaxed than in the US or some other countries. I have long thought about this and have a wild theory, which is that this may be down to the fact that most people in the UK are, as lambasted by the Pope in his recent visit, secular in their outlook. However, that is not to say that this sort of research in the UK is not controversial, or than being secular rather than religious in nature means that somehow you think it is ok to dig up human remains from historical contexts. Rather that if your view of yourself is not tied in with an afterlife (which may or may not have consequences for your mortal remains depending on faith) you are perhaps less likely to be as worried about it as you may have otherwise been. But I digress...... and whatever the view that is held, there must always be the utmost respect involved at every level of a cemetery excavation, or in handling human remains, and this feeling is almost universal. When you examine the mortal remains of someone from the distant past, it is a little like looking in the mirror of time for your species, the sum of your parts. The DNA, it is a humbling experience. The same feeling can be had from picking up something that was made by human endeavor and sweat 2000 years ago as well, it is why we do what we do.

Speaking of which - many archaeologists do like to the Romans did, and opt for their own mortal remains to be cremated. Perhaps in the future we will leave behind a sealed time case with contents such as our diaries, photographs, views, favourite music, medical records and of course a sample of DNA. This would be most useful, and would circumnavigate almost all ethical objections. In the digital era that we are in, you could store literally hundreds of thousands of peoples data time caps in a case the size of a shoe box. Perhaps make them permanently available on-line while you are about it.

There you go wediggers, a new money making venture for one of you, and before one of you emails me with a silly request, no, I won't bury them at Vindolanda for you.


Volunteer ID
extremely good point!

Volunteer ID
I'll look into it and see what can be done.

Andy