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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!

Midges! How bad are they really?
Nov 20 2011, 02:38 PM
...a month of marmite on toast for breakfast prior to arrival.
I can't tell for sure whether you are being serious Georgina. I think I prefer getting bitten by a cloud of midges every day than eating a month of marmite! :X

Midges! How bad are they really?
Great! We're spending the week before Vindolanda on the west coast of Scotland (not as far up as Skye, just west of Glencoe), so it looks like we'll be used to them by then! I'm from Leeds originally, and we had the odd midge but nothing that sounds like these. In my adopted home in Massachetts we have some mean black flies and the inevitable mosquitoes, so I'm used to the concept now. Will definitely pack some high % DEET spray.

Midges! How bad are they really?
When I was on site digging in mid/late May of 2010 I can't remember getting a single insect bite. However, I'm going to be digging in July this time, and it sounds like that's when they may be around. People are already talking about them again elsewhere on the forum, so how bad are they really?

Wouldn't be the first time a journalist (or politician) didn't let the facts get in the way of a good story...!

I do wonder if Martin Wainwright might be a reader of WeDig, if not, where else is this information available??!

Citizen Science & Crowdsourcing
I just gave it a try, fascinating, but hard. It would be nice to have some better feedback, whether there are any recognizable words in what you transcribed for example.

Thanks Andy, good to know.

(Also, just a quick note to say there still seem to be some digging places available for those who want to stay at the Hedley, five different weeks are showing some space...)

Lots to digest in your post Andy, thanks for taking the time to go through so much stuff. Its clear that the only real "problem" is the increasing mismatch between the available digging places compared to the pool of would-be diggers; the stiff competition for places will happen no matter the booking system in force.

One quick follow-up question related to the digging schedule for 2012. It sounds like there was a mixed reception to the mid-week course/excursion this year (I didn't dig in 2011 so I've no idea from my own experience), will the course/excursion be continuing in 2012?

Playing devil's advocate for a second, the significant counter argument to reducing the maximum number of weeks allowed is that volunteers who are around longer are easier to manage during digging, probably make fewer mistakes and can take on a semi-supervisory role themselves in their later weeks the same season.

Andy, Beth, Alex & Justin would have to spend more of their digging season watching over their crew and less actually digging if everyone were doing only one or two weeks. In practice many diggers would have dug before, but a reduced maximum would still significantly increase the proportion of novice diggers in every crew.

So, I'm guessing that although the Trust is sympathetic to the frustrations of those who miss out in the application rush, there are bona fide archaeological reasons why we may not see the maximum number of weeks allowed being reduced.

It looks like Badger is right, if you read the "Excavation Fees" section of the Excavators information it describes the Trust being a charity that is trying to keep access open to all and minimize fees, so they are clearly not going to raise fees without very good reason.

Andy is the only one who knows how many slots have been taken up by people digging for 5 weeks, it may well be a small proportion and the real issue is simply there are too many of us who have caught the Vindo-digging bug. However, if there are a lot of 4 and 5 weekers, then reducing the maximum number of weeks might be a way to widen access to more people while still following the Trusts goals.

Hmmm, still lots of space left for diggers who want to stay at the Hedley, I guess there must be a lot of commuters who don't need accommodation?

Booked myself into the Twice Brewed this morning, and the family for the weekend before it starts. Roll on July!


Harry - that's great, justice is done!

sarcanon - thanks for the coders view. I was imagining the same system you describe with a built-in timer, which I've seen in use myself for buying concert or sports tickets.

Nov 2 2011, 06:44 AM
Augh. Got teased. Checked this morning, and my week had opened up! Signed up for it, went to get my credit card, got back to desk, and *poof* it was gone again. So mean.
Harry, this is indeed cruel and unusual punishment. It looks like the system allows multiple people to put the same slot into their cart, but its the one that gets to the check-out register the fastest. It would be less of a roller-coaster ride if it only allowed one person in at a time, I wonder if that could be implemented here.

I remember there were two or three no-shows during the week I dug in '10, hopefully those people will be good citizens and release their spots early enough to let the others take their spots and book flights etc...

Tim & Harry - commiserations, hard to believe it could have happened so quickly, and there clearly are still some quirks in the online system.

I'd be curious to know how many slots were taken up as batches of 5 weeks? Might be time to restrict it a bit further, no more than 3 weeks per person? I can see that there's a benefit to having more experienced people digging, but my impression from my 2010 digging was that about half the people on-site had been in previous years, so they are already experienced.

Given the demand for places, another way to spread things out a bit more evenly might be to raise the price. 645 spots at 100 quid each would be almost an extra 40,000 pounds, so that would surely be put to good use by the Trust, I'm sure the digging places would disappear just as quickly as they are doing today, but the extra expense might deter some people from booking 4 or 5 weeks, leaving more people happy overall.

90 minutes in and only one week left available for booking.

35 minutes in and it looks like a grand total of only 5 weeks left with space...!!!

One shirt is included in the dig price.

Tim - its probably the error with the STate needing to be the two-letter code...