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Viewing Single Post From: Excavations of 1930
SacoHarry
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CONCLUSIONS.

It will be seen that although the first season's work was, necessarily, confined to a preliminary sampling of the possibilities of the site, sufficient results were obtained to amplify what was already known about its history in some detail. The “Agricolan” occupation is now established, though its initial date is not yet certain, and structural remains of the fort of this period have yet to be discovered; the early ditch in the vicus, undoubtedly connected with the first occupation, looks to belong rather to the annexe than to the fort itself : and the discovery of two pieces of South Gaulish figured samian, as chance finds, at the north gate and on site C, suggests that the Agricolan fort may have occupied part, at least, of the area on which the present fort stands. Whether or not the first occupation began as early as the governorship of Agricola himself, it certainly continued longer, to judge by the samian, than the Agricolan Occupation of Scotland; among the South Gaulish ware, no. 9 in particular, with parallels at Vindonissa, and from Central Gaul no. 11--a type particularly (and, it would seem, exclusively) characteristic of the first quarter of the second century, are without Scottish parallels.

Whether the site was re-occupied under Hadrian, it is not yet clear. The Hadrianic inscription, if it belongs to the site, would be decisive; but as yet no pottery has been found that could well be dated to the period 120-150. When so small an amount of digging has been done, however, and that confined for the most part to higher levels, it would be unwise to draw any conclusions from negative evidence. In any case, soon after 160 the site was in occupation; it was involved in the general destruction that overtook all the sites on the north in 196, when Albinus and his army were warring against Severus in Gaul; and when it was rebuilt, the east gate was probably abolished. By 222-224, the fort had been thoroughly reconditioned, and from now on it was held by coh. IIII Gallorum-a cohors equitata, whose mounted men would be specially suited for the patrol and convoy work that must have bulked largely in the work of this fort; Vindolanda was reckoned, indeed, as one of the stations per lineam valli, but its position--with no clear evidence of direct communication with the Wall--is rather that of a line of communication post.

Towards the end of the third century there followed another destruction, so complete that the Constantian repairers could raze the old north and south walls, thus reducing the length of the fort, and giving it its present form : the plan, plate xxxv, shows the outline of this fort, based on the 1930 excavations (as yet, no examination of the south gate has been attempted, and therefore a wide gap is left on the plan, where the surface indications show it to be). After the Picts' war, the fort was rebuilt by Theodosius (or rather by Dulcitius, who as dux had special charge of the northern command); now large, rough, but solid patches were made in the fort-wall, and one at least of those barrack-buildings was erected, that seem to be the nearest British equivalent to the late-Roman system of which Altrip is a typical example.33 To judge by the burnt pottery from this building, this period ended (as it ended at Birdoswald) in destruction by fire; whether this was in the was with the Picts destruction that occurred at the beginning of Maximus's command, or after his withdrawal of troops to the continent, it is not yet possible to say. So far, also, there is no trace of a later, non-military occupation, such as might be associated with Brigomaglos.

In the vicus, besides the early ditch, we have traces of early timber-buildings, and also of a stone-building, the date of which is probably (to judge by such pottery evidence as has been obtained) soon after A.D. 200. The insertion of buildings inside forts in the closing years of the Roman occupation, suggests that life outside their walls had become too insecure. There is already some ground for suspecting that on the limes, at least, the Roman soldier lived with his family inside the fort, not outside it; subsequent work in the vicus must show whether such was the case at Vindolanda.

The excavations in the fort in July formed part of the programme of the Durham University Excavation Committee, and were carried out at the committee’s cost. Our member, Mr. John Charlton, B.A., of Armstrong College, shared in the supervision of the work for the whole period, and undertook the planning; the plans and sections that he has drawn speak for the value of his co-operation. During a lesser part of the time, Mr. James MacIntyre and Mr. C. E. Stevens also assisted in the supervision, besides taking an active part in excavating. Five students, from the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Durham, stayed for varying periods and gave general assistance. Mr. F. G. Simpson and Mr. I. A. Richmond found time to make several visits to the site, in spite of their preoccupation with the excavations at Birdoswald; to Mr. Richmond's experience in disentangling different periods in the walls of Rome I am deeply indebted for the views on the fort-wall at site C that have been expressed above. I have also to thank Mr. Collingwood for his assistance in the preparation of the section on the inscriptions; Mr. J. A. Stanfield for his drawings of the figured samian; Mr. Percy Hedley for his detailed report on the coins; Dr. Th. Eckinger, of Brugg, for much assistance in the examination of the material in the Vindonissa Museum; and Mr. John Gibson, for allowing me to reproduce, as plate xxxiv and plate xxxvi, fig. 1, two of his exceptionally good photographs of the site of Vindolanda. The local men engaged for the excavation did very well, for all that they had no experience of similar work, Thomas Batey in particular showing a marked flair for dealing with stratification; and Mr. Thomas Hepple's experience and skill were invaluable.

APPENDIX.

In conclusion, it will perhaps be as well to state the principles on which it is proposed to construct future reports. As far as the pottery is concerned, pieces of value for dating will be published as they occur; other pieces only in so far as they possess unusual features. Small finds in general will be published intermittently, as sufficient material is collected for separate treatment of different classes of object; but it is hoped to publish such examples of signed figured samian as may be found, regularly, because of the special value of such pieces for comparative purposes. Stratified coins, and coin-hoards, will be recorded in full; other coins not necessarily so fully. It is hoped to keep all the material, published or unpublished, readily accessible for study at Chesterholm.


33 Cf. Sprater, DIE PFALZ UNTER DEN ROEMERN, Speier am Rhein, 1929, pp. 38 et seqq.
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Excavations of 1930 · Reports & Papers