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2013 Excavations and the new SMC; Next years excavations at Vindolanda
Topic Started: Sep 13 2012, 06:00 AM (1,997 Views)
Andy
Dr Andrew Robin Birley
[ *  * ]
Hi All,

In the next two weeks I will be uploading information about next year's SMC and the new Vindolanda research project. I hope that this will answer a lot of questions and prepare everyone for what we are up to next.

very best,

Andrew
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Andy
Dr Andrew Robin Birley
[ *  * ]
Description of the project:

A research excavation at the Roman fort and settlement of Vindolanda which is
based on some of the most important questions raised by the Research
Framework for Hadrian’s Wall. The excavation will take place between 2013-
2017- following on from the final year and successful completion of the 2008-
2012 SMC.

Summary description:

The Vindolanda ‘frontiers in transition’ archaeological research project provides a major opportunity to build upon previous work undertaken at the site of Vindolanda and is targeted at answering some of the most challenging questions left unanswered about the frontier.The ‘frontiers in transition’ archaeological research project covers three centuries of occupation at the site and examines how the earliest 1st century ‘conquest’ period of Vindolanda changed into a series of successive new frontiers; the Stanegate road followed by Hadrian’s Wall. The project also considers the frontier in its most settled period of the 3rd century and examines in detail the wider societal conditions of a frontier community in this period.
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Andy
Dr Andrew Robin Birley
[ *  * ]
A basic guide to what we will be up to.


Research aims and objectives - introduction:

The following research aims and objectives for this SMC application have been carefully considered by the Vindolanda Trust’s Research Committee in consultation with colleagues from across the profession. They offer an important sustainable continuity of the research strategy of the Vindolanda Trust and fulfill the wider aims and objectives as set out by the Agenda and Strategy section of the Research Framework for Hadrian’s Wall (Symonds & Mason 2009). In particular the scale and scope of this proposed project meet the criteria set out in the Action plan section of the Research Framework for Hadrian’s Wall under section D – Flagship projects (Symonds & Mason 2009: 58). The proposed project comprehensively covers a wide range of thematic initiatives which will deliver on multiple agenda items from the Research Framework and will continue to raise the profile of Hadrian’s Wall research on a national and international level while providing numerous opportunities for community/communities involvement in that research.

The project (The Vindolanda ‘frontiers in transition’ project) has three important main objectives, A1 – A3, each with a number of sub-objectives.

A1. The aims and objectives set out in A1 are to examine the transition from pre-Roman to Roman at Vindolanda and thereby gain a better appreciation of both the ‘conquest’ period and the foundation of the pre-Hadrian’s Wall frontier, otherwise known as the Stanegate Frontier. The most appropriate place to examine this transition is in the field to the north of the modern line of the Stanegate road. Here the remains of early timber forts have been partially explored in trial trenching work undertaken as part of the last SMC (2008-2012). The follow on work proposed by this SMC application is a more considered approach based on the geophysical survey of 2008, and the trial trenching of 2009 & 2010.

A2. The results of the 2008-2011 excavations have raised challenging and exciting questions as to how representative the north-western quadrant of the fort was when compared to the rest of the fort. The discovery of a temple dedicated to the god Jupiter Dolichenus during the 2009 excavations, constructed on top of the rampart mound, is a unique feature within a Roman fort from anywhere in the Roman Empire (Birley Andrew R & Birley Anthony R 2010: 25-52). That a temple should be found in such a context contests established perceptions of how military and religious spaces were used within a Roman fort. Added to this remarkable find, it became apparent that the barrack-blocks which were contemporary to the construction and use of the temple, situated to the immediate south, had been gated at its southern end. This was another unique feature which may or may not be directly associated with the nearby temple complex. The gated barracks may have been used to create a ‘gated
community’ or closed off space within the fort itself, perhaps to house a detachment from a different regiment or a segregated part of the community. However, without a suitable comparable dataset of material from another quadrant of the 3rd century fort it remains difficult to ascertain whether or not those living in the north-western quadrant may have been ‘normal’ or ‘representative’ as part of the more general fort community in the 3rd century.
To solve this problem the careful excavation of another quadrant of the 3rd century fort is required to provide a comparable dataset of material culture from which it will be possible to ascertain whether or not the north-western quadrant was representative of the 3rd century occupation inside the fort. It is proposed that this excavation would take place over a five year period in conjunction with area A1.

Area A3:
A3. The Agenda and Strategy report within the Research Framework for Hadrian’s Wall makes it
clear that ‘it is important that researchers continue to devise new ways of interrogating and testing the relationship, both initially and over time, between the Stanegate and the Wall.’ (section 3.7 in Symonds & Mason 2009:38). The proposed research is targeted specifically at interrogating and testing the relationship between the Stanegate and Hadrian’s Wall. It will specifically search for the location of the missing headquarters and granary buildings from the period IV fort at Vindolanda, sites of key interest to this question. The period IV fort at Vindolanda, cAD105-120’s is crucial to the period of Hadrian’s Wall construction as it is the fort that straddles the important transition from the Stanegate to the Hadrian’s Wall frontier (cAD122-130). The potential for learning more about the build up to and construction period of Hadrian’s Wall through an examination of the site of the headquarters and granary buildings within this fort is enormous. The excavation would take place below the floors of later 3rd century vicus buildings (already consolidated and on display) which are situated to the south side of the main vicus east/west roadway.
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Andy
Dr Andrew Robin Birley
[ *  * ]
No worries :-)

We have been working on this for over two years now and it is will be an extremely exciting, challenging experience. Over the five year period there will be a great deal of opportunities to become involved, and I hope to see many established wediggers as well as new friends.

for further information about next seasons areas please check out the following link: http://vindolanda.blogspot.co.uk/

Also there is some good news on the booking system, we are hopeful that you should be able to book both yourself and a friend in at the same time, something which we are keenly aware of as being a problem for a lot of folks last year. It is quite a technical challenge getting this system right, but we are working on it to make the experience of booking on the 1st as simple and stress free as possible.

best,

Andy


Edited by Andy, Sep 20 2012, 10:09 AM.
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Andy
Dr Andrew Robin Birley
[ *  * ]
With a gap, yes. We need to avoid the field drainage system here now that we are aware of it. We will likely encounter more, but if we move some 20m to the west of this years trench we should avoid the whopper altogether.

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Andy
Dr Andrew Robin Birley
[ *  * ]
Hi folks,

The weeks are being organised into blocks of two weeks. The reasons behind this are both archaeological and logistical. The work we will be doing over the next SMC is far more technical than before so extra training/support is needed. It isn't worth doing this for one week, as by the time you have spent three days learning how to do it, then missed the odd day for the rain (hopefully not, but who can tell) you would be gone before having the chance to make that hard work real - hence the two weeks. Once we are locked into a two week cycle we need to keep it that way otherwise it becomes impossible to organize effectively, simply we don't have the staffing to do so (you can't do 3 weeks on that basis but you can do 4 :-). There will be 11 two-week slots next year covering the season as a whole.

There is a mid-season break from the excavations for volunteers on the main excavations site, in the week prior to friends evening. The reason for this is that the senior staff will need an extra recording and processing week mid-season, due to the nature of the work being undertaken to make sure that we are bang up to date on this important work, otherwise we can't continue in all conscience.

More folks than normal will be able to take part during the period of the north field excavations as was the case this year, so the teams will increase in size at that point (July).

In the end, what we are hoping for is a more personal, intimate and refined experience from the excavators side, and a more efficiently executed excavation from the Vindolanda side which will be needed to cope with the complexity of the job at hand. We realise that two weeks is a major commitment and will not suit everyone this year for very valid reasons. Even so, we have to ring the changes to make sure we deliver on the promise of the most exciting SMC that the Vindolanda Trust has yet to undertake in its 42 year history.

I hope that this makes sense.
Andy
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Andy
Dr Andrew Robin Birley
[ *  * ]
Hi Justin-T,

I hope that the slots will move at a more sensible pace, but to be honest with you, I have been rubbish at predicting it in the past so I will keep my powder dry this time.

Hi Badger,

More technical because we will be running two areas simultaneously and one of those areas if not both will eventually have significant pre-Hadrianic elements, as set out in A3. The last week of the current SMC proved beyond any doubt that this can't be dealt with without significant training and extra supervision. For example, if 60 shoes come out one afternoon, and each needs to be carefully excavated without possibly damaging tablets or any other nearby artefacts, then this takes some getting used to by each team member. Not to mention each artefact needs to be adequately recorded and cared for immediately. Digging it up is just the start after all. The biggest challenge we will face is people listening and then following instructions carefully and to the letter. This will include where to stand, how to stand, how to move, how to move as little as possible in some cases, how to excavate quickly enough not to be defeated by water but not so that you miss things, signs in the soil, how to excavate and what not to do as much as what to do, and on and on it goes :-).

It is a different skill set, and it has to be learned and then executed more or less perfectly, and we will help people to do this. I know that not everyone will get it, and those that don't won't be placed in an area/situation where they could do more harm than good. So we need to nurture and assess people for these tasks more than ever before to make sure both people and site are ready for each other.

Of course, added to this, the recording will go up a new level this coming SMC as it always does for all areas. 5 years is a long time in archaeology, and we have to implement a consistent level of recording throughout an SMC so that each years results are comparable with one another, it is no good changing the system half way through. With the new SMC the level of recording will be a greater challenge than the previous one, this takes time to learn and time to manage. It is all extremely positive, as we get an awful amount of new data because of the changes, but, it places a greater burden on the whole team which has to be carefully managed. So next year you might find yourself taking and processing the soil samples as well as pottery and bone, you might find that you do this a lot because we have to take literally 'tones' of soil samples. You will doubtless find yourself involved in much more recording than ever before, new skills to be absorbed and taken on board :-). I think those that come along will really benefit from it, but of course I am biased!

Edited by Andy, Sep 25 2012, 09:39 AM.
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Andy
Dr Andrew Robin Birley
[ *  * ]
Hi Justin-T,

It will start on the last week of May and run into the end of the first week of July 2013

best,

Andrew
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Andy
Dr Andrew Robin Birley
[ *  * ]
29th June.

It is normally the last Saturday in June.

bets,

Andy
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Andy
Dr Andrew Robin Birley
[ *  * ]
Happy New Year to everyone at wedig from Vindolanda.

Just to let you kow that you can now get your hands on the superb Amphora stamp report by Kate for free at the Vindolanda website by following the link below:

http://www.vindolanda.com/doorway-articles/excavation-reports

cheers,

Andy
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Andy
Dr Andrew Robin Birley
[ *  * ]
All i can tell you at the moment is that there is text, and it is ink.

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