Welcome Guest [Log In] [Register]

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!

ZetaBoards - Free Forum Hosting
Free Forums with no limits on posts or members.
Vindolanda Trust Heritage & Interpretation Project
In the same theme as the car park, here is the new path to the museum door, all DDA complient.

Vindolanda Trust Heritage & Interpretation Project
TH Brand new surface, and I stress 'surface' on the Roman Army Museum car park. I know, it may be hard to get excited by this unless you are a Vindolanda Trust nerd, but this is a big leap for the place and indicative of how we want to up the quality throughout everything we do project wise. We can also get an extra 10-12 cars in thanks to the lining which will go on next week. Hopefully these extra places will be needed once all of the improvements are in next year.

Of course, it also means that visitors to the Roman Army Museum do not have their shoes covered in mud before they get to the door or have fallen into any large muddy puddles on the way.



Digging in summer
A sun hat,

believe it or not, we do get some very hot days and you will be out in the sun for many hours on end. So some form of sun hat is essential.

Helping Newbies
every time Tim, every time.

Helping Newbies
Cheers Dave,

I am delighted that you had a good time. The experience is slightly different for everyone and we do try and make sure that everyone enjoys their time on the site. We do think that most people need two weeks to really get the hang of it. Mainly because most people are very worried about damaging something on their first week and it is a fear which needs to be overcome if people are to progress with the work. Confidence only comes when people are happy about where they are working, what is expected and the techniques they are employing. Great to hear that Peter was so helpful and that he passed on his knowledge. Experience is the key and his is valuable.

By week two most people are really in the groove and have the basics down to second nature. For us (Justin, myself, Bath and Alex), the challenge is to then keep everyone focused so that over confidence doesn't slip in and basic mistakes made. However, in a modern world it is not easy getting two weeks to do anything so we very much appreciate the dedication of the one weekers, even if we always wish we could have people for longer. Some excavations request that people do a minimum of 4 weeks, but I think that this is too prohibitive. If you do a week here, and a week there it soon builds up and everyone has to start somewhere.

Good also to hear that you didn’t feel like an excavation donkey :D . It is one thing we are determined about, we don’t have people along just to make up the numbers. It would be nice to have some sherpers for those wheelbarrows though. Maybe one day someone will approach the Trust with an idea for a celebrity excavation and we could use them as sherpers?

All the very best,


Helping Newbies
Hi Peter,

Placing one person next to another on the excavation is an inexact science. I am certain that whoever you get to work with they will be as grateful as Dave for your experience and dedication as we are.

Although if you want to go solo or work with another Vindolanda veteran I am happy to indulge you. As a Vindolanda veteran you do get some privileges :) We will be a little more scattered about this time round due to the nature of the work. Hopefully we can beat your small finds count of last year by some margin this coming season, infact, I am sure of it.



Helping Newbies
Hi Peter,

Good questions. .....how do we work out who works with who at Vindolanda and where they get to excavate? Sometimes we simply try and separate out potentially conflicting personalities but more often than not it is a complicated calculation based on the following factors....

A Pete case study: Although you had previous experience on other excavations you were still completely 'new' to the Vindolanda excavations like your colleagues. As such you were placed together as a group to be carefully observed, sometimes contained :-), and helped through the initial experience until both the excavators (and myself, Justin & Beth and Alex) were comfortable enough to let a you loose on other tasks. Sometimes this happens quite quickly, sometimes it can take a little longer, sometimes it never happens. It depends entirely on the person and the difficulty of the task/excavation area and what needs to be physically achieved before we can move on to another task.

General policy: If a section of roadway with a drain needs to be excavated before we can move on, this has to happen before we can move on. I have known some people excavate a 3m square section in 2-3 days and others take 2 weeks. We also regularly have people who have difficulty in excavating 1m square of soil in 1 week. Rather than quitting, we ask that people stick to it and see the job through. If an excavator moves slowly, Beth, Alex, Justin and I will not hover over them (which would be intimidating), instead we periodically come by and offer support and advice (our normal policy is every 15-20 minutes unless specifically requested, and we are always on call).

There is no time limit, no stick (whipping is optional but only if your ticked that box on the application form), and we ask people to take things at their own pace. Our motto and advice on excavation methodology is simple, work quickly but methodically through barren areas and slowly and methodically through more interesting areas. Being able to make a decision on which is which only comes through experience and we are here to guide you.

With a person who has excavated before, we will always want to see how they perform when placed beside other new excavators. What we are looking for is a combination of things such as, leadership, best practice, and confidence. Our policy on this is that it is always a good thing to let people have the opportunity to shine and we normally expect experiences volunteers to shine when placed besides complete novices. However, this is always dependant on a few outside factors; such as what they have been taught at other sites and how those sites are managed, something we occasionally need to mitigate for. Every excavation approaches things slightly differently.

Another point worth making is that some of our most experienced and superb excavators are excellent at what they do but not particularly good at helping others progress (others are first class). This is also why, depending on the team available on any given week, new volunteers may find themselves working together for mutual support rather than separated out. From a management perspective this enables us poor supervisors to concentrate our resources on the new volunteers to help and support them and to get them up to speed as quickly as possible, leaving the veterans more leeway and a structured path. I hope that people find that the supervisors are always available to help them when they are needed, are knowledgeable and supportive. With a large crew we tend to set up specific and controlled tasks which can be regularly monitored. Of course, some weeks are more demanding than others, depending on the crews.
By the by, I often get complaints from more experienced volunteers that I put them in deliberately tough areas, and of course I often do :-).
I hope that this helps.


Illuminating Hadrian's Wall
I think that it will look OK, so long as it doesn't rain or there is a heavy fog, in which case it will be a little bit underwhelming. So here's to a bright star filled night in March! Don't forget to take a flask of something warm with you. You can be sure that the soldiers patrolling the wall did.

The Ninth Cohort Of Batavians
The numbers simply refer to the number of cohorts raised from a particular area at a particular time, rather than a number which reflected the unit’s presence in a wider context of all auxiliary cohorts as a whole. For instance, every time you raise a couple of cohorts of Gauls, you may number them 1-whatever.....each time this is done.

As far as the Gauls are concerned, there are several units with the same number. But we can make a simple mistake of associating the entire landmass of 'Gaul' with the units of the same name. Actually the so called 'Gauls' regiments came from a fairly small area, modern day Belgium. Other units such as the Nervians were also Gallic (modern day France), as were many others. Often a unit would be associated with a city or a civitas capital, or a specific group of people, rather than a broader geographic area. Associations with perceived origins become more complex and indistinct as time progresses. Example, by the 4th century, exactly who were the 4th cohort of Gauls and where did its soldiers come from? If it even still existed that is?

A warning is to take care with the Notitia, as it was more than a little out of date and some of it is probably well wide of the mark.

It must also be remembered that some units, as with the legions, were removed from the listings for various reasons and those numbers were not used again. Should something disastrous happen, or something regarded as dishonourable, then that Legion number could be removed and cease to exist once the legion or unit ceased to exist, rather than being re-issued. Same thing could happen to an auxiliary unit. Pick the wrong side on a civil war, venture to far into the Persian desert......number and unit gone from the listing. What complicates matters is that you can have several units (auxiliary) sharing the same number. So the one you thought you had is not the one you were looking for at all. There are 4th cohorts of Gauls all over the place, Britain, Moesia, Raetia etc. They were not the same unit.

For an excellent article on the 4th cohort of Gauls search the following ref:

Birley A.R. 2008‘Cives Galli de(ae) Galliae concordesque Britanni: a Dedication at "Vindolanda in
Antiquité classique 77 (2008). P 171-187


Or Auxiliaries as a whole.......look at

Spaul J. 2000 COHORS: The evidence for and a short history of the auxiliary infantry units of the
Imperial Roman Army. BAR International Series 841.

Vindolanda Trust Heritage & Interpretation Project
More updates will follow shortly including an update on the progress at the Roman Army Museum

Vindolanda Trust Heritage & Interpretation Project
The new Vindolanda footpaths. We have extended the foot path scheme to include the entire network of paths on the site, not just the link from site to museum down the steep bank. This will make a HUGE difference to people navigating the site and will cut journey time down by up to 5 minutes from the site to the museum and have a positive impact on both maintenance of the site and wear and tear on the monument. By the time the excavation season kicks off on the 4th of April we hope to have at least one of the major routes from the west gate admission building to the Museum door completed if not both. The attached image shows the path foundation on the most difficult section, the bank from the museum to the site. This foundation will have 2 more layers placed over it to provide an excellent finish which will take buggies, wheelchairs and walking visitors across the site with comfort and ease. The new paths are being placed OVER the existing network of paths outside the fort and therefore have no impact into the archaeological environment. They are not being dug into the ground. A permeable membrane set into the paths will help drain surface water from the surface so that the majority of visitors in 2010 will no longer have to navigate the occasional lake, mountain stream or morass of mud which were the consequences of heavy rain or snowfall in previous years.

The end product will make Vindolanda a great deal more accessible to visitors and the new paths will be uniform in construction and therefore will have less of a visual impact on the site than the old network.

Of course, as you can now get to the museum from the excavation shed a lot quicker, I may have to consider cutting down the length of the lunch break!

Vindolanda Trust Heritage & Interpretation Project
the new road to the new study centre car park which is behind the building, built into the hillside. The Archaeological study centre should be open for use and bookings for the 2011 excavation season. up to 10 excavators will be able to stay there and use the fantastic facilities (including the car park :-).

Vindolanda Trust Heritage & Interpretation Project
more photo's from the other side

Vindolanda Trust Heritage & Interpretation Project
Work now progressing well despite the new batch of snow and ice. Here are some pictures of the old Vindolanda Coach House, soon to be the New Vindolanda Archaeological study centre.