Excavation Bookings


2017 Bookings                      

You will be able to book online at 1200 GMT on Tuesday 1st November 2016.
Do not forget to read the booking instructions first!*


Do Not Miss Out!

In the previous 3 years, all of our excavator slots sold within hours of launch. We will always do our best to accommodate requests but, when demand exceeds supply, someone will inevitably be disappointed. The sooner you book the better chance you have of securing a place.

2017 Excavation Programme

2017 is the 5th and final year of the current Scheduled Monument Consent as the Vindolanda Trust continue the research excavations on site.This is fantastic news and will give a large number of people the opportunity to become involved in the work of the Vindolanda Trust. The nature of the research excavations for 2017 means that we shall once again be asking volunteers to commit to two concurrent weeks of excavation to promote continuity, maximise skills and give the extra levels of supervision that the planned research area will require. Excavators can book for a maximum of two slots on this system, giving them up to four weeks on the excavations.

The Excavation period dates for 2017 are as follows -
PERIOD 1 - April 3rd to April 14th
PERIOD 2 - April 17th to April 28th
PERIOD 3 - May 1st to May 12th
PERIOD 4 - May 15th to May 26th
PERIOD 5 - May 29th to June 9th
PERIOD 6 - June 12th to June 23rd
Recording week - NO EXCAVATIONS - June 26th to June 30th
PERIOD 7 - July 3rd to July 14th
PERIOD 8 - July 17th to July 28th
PERIOD 9 -  July 31st to August 11th
PERIOD 10 - August 14th to August 25th
PERIOD 11 - August 28th to September 8th
PERIOD 12 -  September 11th to September 22nd
Project name: The Vindolanda ‘frontiers in transition’ archaeological research project.        
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. Over the course of its five years, it will directly provide over 2000 opportunities for volunteers to become involved in the work and gain first-hand experience of the archaeology and history of the world heritage site at Vindolanda. The project will help to maintain and improve the public and academic profile of research archaeology in Britain and on Hadrian’s Wall and has international importance. Over 90,000 visitors per year come to Vindolanda to watch the archaeology take place, and wider economic benefit of those visitors to the central section of Hadrian’s Wall has been assessed as being crucial to the local economy.

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 3rdcentury and examines in detail the wider societal conditions of a frontier community in this period.

Research aims and objectives – an 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 fulfil 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).

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. This excavation will take place over a five year period in conjunction with area A1.

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 was crucial to this period of Hadrian’s Wall construction as it was the fort that straddled 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 potential site of the headquarters and/or 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.

2017 Booking Season and Slots

The excavation season for 2017 kicks off on Monday 3rd of April and will run through to Friday the 22nd of September 2017. The season is divided up in to periods of two weeks working from Monday through to Friday, from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm. You can excavate for a minimum of one period of two concurrent week and up to a maximum of two periods, four weeks.  

Before You Book: Important Information

All excavation places will be made available online from November 1st at 12 noon GMT.
It is important that applicants read the following instructions before booking a slot:

All excavators must be friends of Vindolanda

To come and dig here in Hadrian’s Wall Country you must be a “Friend of Vindolanda”. 
Becoming a Friend of the Trust brings you closer to our work (literally if you come and dig!). Click here for more information on becoming a Friend.You can join our Friends scheme when you book if you are not a friend already.

You will be able to book a maximum of 2 people into a Period at one time

Full details must be given for both applicants. If you are booking accommodation in the Hedley Centre and are planning to come along with someone that you would prefer to share accommodation with you can put this through as a request at check out. We will do our best to put you together but cannot guarantee that this will be possible.

No more than two periods excavating per applicant

You cannot excavate with us for more than two, two week periods in total. You must excavate for a two week period at a time but your second two week period does not have to be consecutive to your first - but the main thing is that you don't exceed two, two week periods in any one excavation season.

Some excavation slots are available with inclusive accommodation

For 2017, it will be possible for some excavators to stay here on site with us in the Hedley Centre - click here for detailed information. If you book a slot that includes accommodation you will be booked in to stay with us for two weeks from the first Sunday evening until the final Thursday evening, leaving after the day’s excavation on the Friday. Each period 6 Single rooms are available and 1 twin room for those wishing to book with a friend.

Accommodation extras for those who are staying

If you're staying with us you can stay over on the final Friday night of that period for an optional £40, Bed and Breakfast. If you are buying 2 periods concurrently (i.e. four weeks, one after the other) then you can buy accommodation for the Friday and Saturday nights that connect the 2 weeks together for an additional £80, Bed and Breakfast.

Other accommodation nearby

Click here if you want to arrange your own accommodation and see other accommodation providers in the area. Please note that some may require you to bring your own vehicle if they are some way from Vindolanda.

Payment terms

We will be taking full payment online for your two week dig period or a 50% deposit for excavation and accommodation booked in the Hedley Centre. We will collect all outstanding amounts (including any additional Fridays and/or Friday and Saturday nights purchased) 8 weeks before your visit.

Gift Aid

If you are a UK Tax payer, we would encourage you to please tick the “Gift Aid” box when checking out. Gift Aiding will not cost you any more money but will allow us to claim tax back from the government. You know what a difference that can make!

Other extras

All excavators receive a free Vindolanda t-shirt. You can also purchase extra t-shirts online when you book if required. Items will be supplied when you arrive for the excavation.


We understand that things sometimes crop up unexpectedly so when that does occur we have clear cancellation policies to both our excavation weeks and to staying over in our accommodation. Click here to view cancellation terms.

We highly recommend that you take out an insurance policy to cover yourself in the event of a personal accident or cancellation. The Vindolanda Trust does have a full public liability insurance cover.

Preparing for Excavations

Once your have made your online purchase you will receive confirmation of your booking as well as links to preparatory information. You can access this information here now if you want to undertake some research before you book.

Other Terms and Conditions

Excavators must be physically fit to participate and agree to comply to our code of conduct.
Click here to view full terms and conditions including our health and safety policy.

Sign Up to Receive Notice of Places Available After Cancellations

Due to demand for places, people can sign up to receive notice of cancellations should additional places become available prior to the season. 
Click here if you would like to receive updates about cancellations.

Book Online Now  ** AVAILABLE FROM NOVEMBER 1st at 1200GMT **

Before you book we recommend:
  • You've decided what weeks you want to spend with us - subject to availability
  • You've decided if you want to book the on site Hedley Centre Accommodation
  • You've decided if you want to book additional Fridays and Friday/Saturday period extensions if you're staying in the Hedley Centre on site accommodation
  • NOTE:
    Once you have an 'Excavation Period' in your shopping cart, it will stay there for one hour.
    Please ensure that you take time to fill out the check out form and excavator information correctly.


Excavation Bookings

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