Getting ready to excavate and the season has started

Vindolanda Trust - Tuesday, February 28, 2017

We have been busy this winter at the Vindolanda Trust. With 5 weeks to go until the beginning of 2017 excavation season, and have been delighted to welcome visitors back after the winter break.

At both Roman Vindolanda and the Roman Army Museum, you will be able to notice some of the improvements we have been up to during these cold and frosty months. In particular at the Roman Army museum two new displays have taken their rightful place, and they both come from generous donations. Two imposing artillery pieces, donated by the late Tom Feeley, have taken their place on a beautiful central plinth in the armour gallery, together with a new panel commemorating Tom’s passion and expertise in Roman engineering and artillery. Tom also donated a replica protective chain mail, displayed in the same gallery as the weapons.  In the main gallery you will be able to appreciate a centurial building inscription, rescued during renovation of a home close to the Roman Army Museum, and donated by the home owners to the Vindolanda Trust for display.


Image 1. The artillery pieces.


Image 2. Chain mail.
On top of the new displays ,our long serving latrines at the Roman Army Museum had started to resemble a bit too closely to the ones we so happily  excavate at Vindolanda during the summer. The resulting uplift in facilities is a step change in design that any Roman homeowner would be proud of. 


Image 3. New and colorful latrines

As it is now customary, Roman Vindolanda Museum has been updated with the new finds’ case: these are a special curator pick, highlighting some of the best finds of 2016.  Amongst them, visitors will be able to enjoy the rare pair of children shoes, together with some of the finds most popular on social media, including the Apollo bust and a very well preserved knife blade.


Image 4.  New finds case

We would have loved to display all of the 421 shoes we found in 2016, but lack of space has meant that  4 of them were chosen for the new finds’ case. However, we would like to thank all of you who have helped our lab by supporting the ‘ Conserve a shoe’ campaign. You still have a chance to make a difference and help us care for this incredible resource: put a roman shoe in your shopping basket now by clicking on the following link:  http://www.vindolanda.com/conserve-a-shoe 

As the new excavation season kicks in, you will be able to see some more changes taking place at Roman Vindolanda, and especially in our outdoors museum spaces as we welcome news spaces for the characters you all love and some new ones to appear. The domus and the locus are only a part of a program of renovation that was possible thanks to Arts Council England’s fund.

The temple will also get a new facade and interiors, and Graham Taylor from Potted History (http://www.pottedhistory.co.uk/index.html ) will help us build a functioning replica pottery kiln, for visitors to enjoy during our popular pottery events. Finally, a minibus will help us reach smaller and further schools who don’t have the chance to come and visit us during the shoulder season.

While we prepare all these new features, from the 3rd of April onwards, don’t forget to come and witness the excavations as we venture into the last year of 2013-2017 SMC. This year, active excavation areas will include the South East corner of the fort, the Severan ditch and the extramural settlement.

Finally, on the excavations note, we are delighted welcome on board Penny Trichler. She will be taking on the role of post-excavation supervisor, education officer and excavation supervisor during Lauren Bearpark’s maternity leave.


Image 5. Penny cleaning the shoes

Iron Ingot text

Vindolanda Trust - Monday, September 12, 2016

A few months ago excavations in the 3rd century extramural settlement recovered a remarkable artefact. An ingot made from iron with an inscription on it. We had various readings coming through the email, many noble attempts at getting a sensible reading. After considering all you can find our best effort on what we think the message on the ingot means. It is not a definitive reading, but a plausible explanation. Our thanks go to Adam Stanford for the wonderful photographs. Best wishes, Andrew and Anthony Birley

Ingot Line 1 - side 1. 


Line 2, side 2. 

Possible reading:

line 1   ϽIVLI S/

line 2   EVRIA

 This could be interpreted as:

Ͻ (=centuria) Iuli S/ev(e)ria(ni)

“century of Julius Sev(e)ria(nus)”.

 Notes: the text above assumes that the inscription starts on the top side, here line 1, and continues on the other, underneath side, i.e. S comes at the end of the top side and the name is continued below.

The fourth letter in line 1 looks more like I but could have been intended as L. In line 2 the third and fourth letters are heavily ligatured and in the process the E which is needed for the name here suggested was omitted.  The combination of names “Julius Severianus” is very suitable for a centurion, very many of whom were called Julius and Severianus is a not uncommon cognomen.

Needless to say the above reading remains hypothetical. No other inscribed iron ingots are listed in RIB II and in fact we haven’t so far found references to any elsewhere. It was clearly no easy task to inscribe iron, and the inscription may have been etched onto the artefact whilst the ingot was still slightly molten.