Toilet seats and potter’s wheels – rare preserved artefacts of everyday Roman life to be seen by public for first time
The Vindolanda Trust has gained initial support* for a £1.3m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to secure the future of its internationally significant collection of wooden Roman artefacts and enable the public to see them for the first time.
Best known as the discovery place of Britain’s oldest surviving handwritten documents, Vindolanda’s oxygen-free archaeological make-up has resulted in the preservation of other organic material which usually doesn’t survive the test of time.
As well as examples of leather, textiles and flora, 1,463 wooden objects have been excavated at the site – from water pipes and axles to a toilet seat and potter’s wheels. Alongside the ancient Roman fort, the collection tells the fascinating everyday story of those who lived and worked on the Northern Frontier nearly 2,000 years ago.
The ‘Unlocking Vindolanda’s Wooden Underworld’ project will expand the museum by creating a gallery with special display cases allowing temperature and humidity to be kept at safe levels, enabling more of the wooden collection to be taken out of storage.
Visitors will also hear the incredible survival story of the collection – from the science behind how they lasted two millennia to their conservation and the research that is uncovering their origins.
Patricia Birley, Chair of the Vindolanda Trust’s Development and Impact Committee, said: “We are thrilled that HLF is offering support to this project that will build a beautiful extension to the museum at Vindolanda. The fit for purpose facility will create a truly inspiring exhibition and activity area to enable a wide range of users to access the Trust’s outstanding collection of wooden objects and the fascinating stories that they reveal about their part in everyday life at Roman Vindolanda”
Ivor Crowther, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) North East, said: “What an incredible collection, its size and scope of wooden Roman artefacts is unrivalled in Britain – but it’s currently hidden away in storage! We’re delighted to support these plans to bring the collection and its fascinating story into the public eye for the first time. We look forward to seeing the plans develop.”
A development grant of £20,400 has been awarded by HLF to enable the Trust to develop the plans and apply for a full grant of £1,339,000 at a later date.
Notes to editors
About the Vindolanda Trust
The Vindolanda Trust is an independent archaeological charitable trust, founded in 1970. The Vindolanda Trust does not receive any annual funding and relies on the visitors to both Roman Vindolanda and the Roman Army Museum to fund its archaeological, conservation and education work. Roman Vindolanda is regarded as the most exciting archaeological site in Europe with its wealth of archaeological remains and ongoing excavations. Vindolanda is home to the world famous Vindolanda Writing Tablets, voted as Britain’s top archaeological treasure by the British Museum, these thin hand written wooden notes have revealed an astonishing amount of first-hand information from the people who lived at this site 2000 years ago.
About the Heritage Lottery Fund
Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk @heritagelottery
*Heritage Grants applications are assessed in two rounds. A first-round pass is given when HLF has endorsed outline proposals and earmarked funding. A first-round pass may also include an immediate award to fund the development of the project. Detailed proposals are then considered by HLF at second-round and as long as plans have progressed satisfactorily and according to the original proposal, an award for the project is confirmed.
For further information contact Rebecca Lamm, HLF press office, on 020 7591 6027 or Rebecca.Lamm@hlf.org.uk
For further information about the Vindolanda Trust contact Sonya Galloway, Communications Manager, on 01434 344277 firstname.lastname@example.org