Having grown up in the North-East, with history as my favourite subject at school, I cannot remember a time when I did not know about Vindolanda. However, I began to visit the site more after my interest in Roman history was heightened, on completing my history degree. Even though I moved away from history in my career, my interest in the subject and in Vindolanda never waned. I was delighted to be appointed as a Vindolanda Trustee in 2017 and even more honoured to become Chair of the Board of Trustees last August.

I love to bring my children to Vindolanda (and was really pleased that my daughter enjoyed a school trip there last summer). It is fascinating to see Vindolanda through their eyes and so I have dedicated most of my Vindolanda top 5 to items which have particularly piqued their interest (after all, if the children are happy, that permits me to buy an ice-cream and sit down for five minutes to enjoy the beauty of the site!).

The child skeleton – children do love a shocking and grisly story and mine were fascinated to see where the child skeleton was unearthed in 2012. They were even more thrilled to see the skeleton itself, exhibited in the Museum.

The child’s lookalike ‘Predator football boot’ shoe – I think Vindolanda’s entire shoe collection is breath-taking, however, we were lucky enough to visit the site and excavations the week this amazing shoe was found in 2016. The excavators were kind enough to show us the shoe (in its pre-conservation state) and it was a special moment, particularly given my football-mad son was wearing remarkably similar shoes at the time. Style never goes out of fashion!

The replica Roman fort – when I enter the site from either direction, my eyes are always drawn to the replica fort, partly due to its commanding height compared to the other original features of the site. It would seem my children’s eyes are similarly drawn, as they always make a beeline for it. I am sure they appreciate the replica Roman architecture, but they mainly just seem to love chasing each other around it!  

Entertaining and impressive technology at the Roman Army Museum – both myself and my children are always wowed by the “Edge of the Empire” 3D mini-movie shown in the museum’s theatre and amused by the holographic Roman teacher in the classroom area.

The display of Vindolanda tablets – last but most definitely not least! I said above that I was focussing most of my top 5 on items which have grabbed my children’s interest, but this final item is my favourite. The tablets found at Vindolanda are so special, I find reading the words of the many different types of people that resided at the Vindolanda forts mesmerising. A couple of years ago, me and my husband spent a few days taking part in the excavations, which I would recommend to anyone. At one point whilst we were there, we thought a tablet had been found. The excitement amongst the whole group was palpable. Unfortunately, it was not a tablet on that occasion, but some were found later during that summer’s excavations. I love the room in which the tablets are displayed in the Museum. It must be dark due to the conservation requirements of the tablets, but that just adds to the atmosphere. On entering the room, you really feel you are about to see real ‘treasures’ and that is indeed the case.