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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!

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Mike's Geoblog; Geological aspects of the Archaeology
Topic Started: May 14 2010, 04:43 PM (1,807 Views)
SacoHarry
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Thanks so much for starting this blog! I'm already hooked. I think geology's fascinating, and have tried picking up bits as a hobby ever since visiting the Grand Canyon and seeing the billion years of strata there.

Never realized that mud could be "lime mud," that's pretty cool. I remember seeing somewhere that in a pinch, one can even "taste" a rock to see if saliva makes it bubble. Who knew?

Looking forward to future posts, and welcome to WeDig.
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SacoHarry
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Random question of the day. I read that in addition to the Whin Sill, there are columns of whinstone that can be found in the area -- like little pipes of magma that squeezed up in faults and then solidified. Did the Vindolanda whinstone come from tumbled/glacial Whin Sill boulders, or from a local "pipe"? Or is there any way really to know?

Thanks again for some really interesting stuff! Amazing what can be learned from the very rocks under our feet.
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SacoHarry
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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.
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SacoHarry
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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.
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SacoHarry
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Thx again for all of this blog! It's been really fascinating & eye-opening. Like I said, I'd like to work with this winter on creating a Digger's Guide page from it so that it can have a permanent place of prominence.

And thanks for the reading list -- I can vouch for the "Ancient Frontiers" book. Really interesting, well-produced, great tidbits on where to find various formations (and the flora and fauna they attract) around the Wall.
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SacoHarry
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This winter, Mike did a very big thing. He took the notes from the Geoblog and compiled them into a full text of the Geology of Vindolanda. I've just finished compiling & uploading them to the Digger's Guide. It's in 12 sections, divided into two pages: Part I and Part II.

This is an amazing amount of work, and an amazing resource. We tend to think of history in human terms. But much of our history is shaped by the resources under our feet -- the things that we had to learn to make do with. It's the same at Vindolanda, and the Wall in general. The remarkable Whin Sill -- the ridge that gives the Wall its imposing overlook. How did it get there? What kind of stone did the garrisons at Vindolanda use to create their forts? Limestone? Sandstone? How did it get there? What other resources (and obstacles) did they have to contend with? Why has some of the stone held up well, while other areas crumble?

Mike's "Geology of Vindolanda" will help answer all of this. It will also take any interested WeDig'er on a 300-million year tour of northern England. You can start to understand how ancient mountains, deserts, seas, and glaciers created the Tynedale known to Roman soldiers -- and modern diggers.

A huge Thanks! to you, Mike, for taking the time & energy to make this resource available to all.

- Harry
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