Recording and interpreting

Vindolanda Trust - Wednesday, July 11, 2018
Sometimes, when excavating a site as complex and significant as Vindolanda, you need to take a step back and look at what you have achieved so far, to decide how to move forward. This is what we do during our ‘recording week’, between the 9th and the 14th of July. While the removal of turf, silt and clay to uncover structures and finds is exciting, what really allows us to understand the life of the communities that inhabited Vindolanda is the accurate recording of every layer removed. At Vindolanda we use the single context planning and recording method. Every ‘event’ in the history of the site is recorded in Read more...

Severan Feline Friends?

Vindolanda Trust - Wednesday, July 04, 2018
Interaction between cats and humans goes back as far as Ancient Egypt. However, some of our earliest clues to domestic cats in Britain come the Roman period. It is thought that they may have been kept as pets, but also to control the rodent population, particularly in and around the granaries where food such as wheat and grain was stored. (Cat skull found during the 2018 ditch excavations) Here at Vindolanda we find both cat and dog bones, as well as many other animals. Identifying whether what we have uncovered is a cat or a dog can sometimes be tricky, depending on what bones are found. One main and easy way to Read more...

Deeper into the ditches

Vindolanda Trust - Saturday, June 23, 2018
The Vindolanda excavation season has almost reached its halfway point, as period 6 transitions into period 7. Much has changed in the excavation area from our last trench-side update. Below the level of the foundations of the two extramural settlement building mentioned in our May blog (, a trench has been sunk to locate the position of westernmost Antonine ditches as well as the edge of the Severan one. The Antonine Fort, dating between c. 180- 200 AD, is a complex one. Its characteristically orange sandstone wall stretches North-South across the excavation ar Read more...

Little soldiers: gaming at Vindolanda

Vindolanda Trust - Friday, June 08, 2018
One of the most popular or frequent artefacts found on the excavations at Vindolanda, and many other military sites across the Roman Empire are small round gaming counters. Gaming and gambling seem to have been endemic in the Roman Army, from the north of Britain to the camel fort at Abu Shar’ar in the Egyptian desert, counters and boards are found everywhere. They are often made from sherds of pottery, red Samian or black burnished wares. They can be made from beautiful black, white or green glass or highly polished discs of bone. This year the trenches at Vindolanda have produced some thirty or so counters which can be added to th Read more...

Anaerobic at last

Vindolanda Trust - Monday, May 28, 2018
Depth of excavation is an important part of what makes Vindolanda such a different and special site. The volunteers from period 3 and 4 have been able to see this with their own eyes, and it is thanks to them that the deepest excavation trench now stands at just over 2 meters depth from the turf level. Vindolanda was occupied by Roman soldiers and their communities for over 320 years. The average length of stay for a garrison in one of the nine forts built on Vindolanda’ s ‘white field’ was 10/15 years. Then the fort and village would have been demolished and abandoned, left for a new garrison to build again, on top  Read more...

Post Excavation update

Vindolanda Trust - Wednesday, May 09, 2018
Post Excavation is in full swing! The post excavation shed Post excavation at Vindolanda is now in full swing. Here in the Post Excavation shed the volunteers wash, dry and categorise the pottery, animal bone, iron, brick, tile and glass that has been excavated from the site. A few changes have been made to post excavation this year to coincide with our new SMC (Scheduled Monument Consent) five-year excavation plan. Firstly, we are now operating as two teams – a pottery team and an animal bone team. Secondly, we have set up a new recording system for the animal bone which will record more information ab Read more...

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