Water has always played a key role at Vindolanda, flowing in the tranquil stream in our gardens and filling the drains, bath houses and water tanks that dot the Roman fort and village.

But have you ever stopped to consider the journey that water would have undertaken in Roman times, from springs to toilet flushing? What was it used for? Was there running water in any of the Roman buildings? How much water was used and how much of it was wasted? In this video we will take you for a virtual walk around the site, showing you how numerous springs fed the precious liquid to a system of tanks in the West of the site. From there, we’ll follow the incline of the hill, discussing how water would have been transported in stone lined aqueducts or through buried wooden pipes to reach key buildings, such as the praetorium or the bath house.

Bath-houses, however, were not the only places were masses of water would have been used every day. Many purpose-built water collection and water management structures existed throughout the occupation of Vindolanda. They served various functions, such as providing drinking facilities to men and animals, washing oneself and one’s belonging, and even purifying the soul in baptism, once Christianity became the official religion of the Empire.

Even nowadays, water retains its importance: trapped under the clay foundations of the stone forts of Vindolanda, it still flows up and down with the seasons, aiding the preservation of our organic finds in the deeper, darker, more ancient Vindolandas of the past.