Date Published: 18/05/2020

Fiona is from south east Northumberland and first visited Vindolanda as a child on family outings.  Having spent a number of years working out of the region both as a Civil Servant and then with Royal Mail Group, Fiona became more actively involved with the Vindolanda Trust in 2010 as a member of the Marketing Committee following her return to work in the North East.  In 2011, Fiona became a Trustee and Director of the Vindolanda Trust.  Fiona is the Chief Operating Officer for the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, works with the Ministry of Justice, and enjoys additional voluntary positions as Chair of Northumberland based theatre company November Club, and supports Durham University Business School’s full-time MBA Programme. 


My Favourite Five – chosen because of the insight they afford into life on the Wall.

1. In the summer of 2018 I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in the Vindolanda excavations.  It was my final afternoon of a week when the weather had curtailed excavations and we were all focussed on clearing a particular muddy trench to prepare the ground for the following week’s team of excavators.  Dr Andrew Birley popped down into the trench to provide further hands-on guidance, and within a short period of time he had discovered the most fabulous Roman Tile.  A wonderful moment. The batch makers’ tile went on display in 2019.  It names all of the artisans who worked in the tile yard to make the tiles and their names were written in cursive script on the tile before it was fired – a very early form of quality control.

2. The Helmet Crest at the Roman Army Museum.  Made of hair moss, and a reminder of the special anaerobic ground conditions in this part of Northumberland that have enabled objects to survive, it is, as far as we know, the only known helmet crest within the Roman Empire.  How special is that?

3. The four Hipposandals, or Roman Horseshoes, found during the summer of 2018 in a ditch dating to AD 140-180, and now on display at the Roman Army Museum.  There are a number of suggested uses for the Hipposandals.  Are they temporary horseshoes, or would they only have been used on slower pack animals?  Were they leg restraints to hobble the horse or mule?  Or did they have a veterinary medicinal use, carrying a salve packed in or around the iron?  Did they have an offensive use?  Or did they provide traction so the horse could get a firm grip in unstable ground during periods of bad weather along the Roman Wall? 

4. The Calendrical Clepsydra.  The Chesterholm Museum contains the fragment of an ancient timekeeping device which was used to measure the hours of the day.  This was done by monitoring the level of water in a bowl as it dripped out of a small hole.  Even more evidence of the skill of those who travelled from afar and inhabited the Edge of Empire.

5. Fragments of the Gladiator Glass. Exquisite, delicate, hand painted glass, depicting Gladiators in combat, probably made in Cologne, imported, and used in the Tavern at Vindolanda.  That any of it has survived is a miracle, and who knows, future excavations may reveal further beautiful pieces which would be incorporated into the vessel.