Wooden treasures unearthed at Vindolanda

Vindolanda Trust - Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Spectacular start to the excavation season at Roman Vindolanda

barrel staveVindolanda is a rare archaeological site, one that even after 45 years of continuous excavation seasons still keeps releasing more treasures from the past.  The treasures are not those that we think of in a traditional sense but rather a hoard of very normal finds. What makes these ordinary items extraordinary is the fact they are approaching 2,000 years old, and yet many of them look as if they were discarded or lost just recently. 

 Dr Andrew Birley, CEO and Director of Excavations for the Trust explained ‘We know this site very well and at the start of each season there are buildings and artefacts that we hope to uncover. There are of course illusive finds that you want to make and are still searching for and then there are discoveries that make the hair on the back of your neck stand up!’

On the 16th June one of those spine tingling discoveries was made in the deep anaerobic trenches where the oxygen-free conditions enables almost perfect preservation of the ancient remains. A barrel stave, dating c AD90, complete with the most vivid brand and numbers was unearthed. The stave, made from pine and almost certainly imported from Spain bears the as yet unidentified makers brand. The numerals MCC indicate the barrel contained a quantity of 1200 but what the contents were remains a mystery.

 Dr Briley went on to say ‘the barrel stave has been one of the highlights of the season so far and we hope over the coming weeks we will know more about ALBIN - NORB  as images of the stave have been sent to specialists in both Spain and here in the UK for further interpretation. However, we can guess that ALBIN could mean ALBINVS, the name of the manufacturer of the barrel, and NORB is the place of origin’.

 The Vindolanda Trust is currently working up plans for a £1.3m extension to the museum, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, especially to house the wooden artefacts, a collection which is steadily expanding.



For further information or hi-res photographs please contact:

Sonya Galloway,

The Vindolanda Trust, 01434 344277



Follow us on twitter: @VindolandaTrust

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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 and the Roman Army Museum are both situated in the heart of the Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site, Roman Vindolanda is just to the north of the village of Bardon Mill and the Roman Army Museum is next to the village of Greenhead.


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. The Vindolanda Trust has recently been awarded Designation, a mark of distinction celebrating the national importance of the collection.


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"Excellent. Time Team Extraordinary" K & L M, Canberra, Australia - Vindolanda