Date Published: 11/05/2020

Hello, my name is Liz.

 I am a museum volunteer, one day a week, at Vindolanda. My work involves cataloguing and organising the museum collections of wood, bone, pottery, leather and small finds. I am also an excavation volunteer and have been digging every year since 2004. My earlier association with Vindolanda was as a History teacher at Dukeshouse Wood Field Study Centre, in Hexham. I enthusiastically introduced many young people to Vindolanda, hoping to instill a love of archaeology, through a visit to such an inspirational site.

My Favourite 5:

The Vindolanda Site and Setting

Vindolanda lies in a beautiful Northumbrian landscape. No one can fail to be impressed by the ancient ruins surrounded by wooded valleys, streams edged with wildflowers and Barcombe Hill standing sentinel, guarding the site as it did nearly two thousand years ago.  I can watch the seasons change. The secluded, sunny, valley gardens are a delight with an air of peace, a place to contemplate the past.


Vindolanda Volunteers

Excavation volunteers come from many countries, are all ages and from all walks of life, but all share a common interest, Vindolanda, which brings us together.  Lasting friendships are formed.  It is special, each season, to find past friends have returned and friendships are renewed.


The Round Houses

These enigmatic roundhouse dwellings occur in orderly rows of ten, back to back. They are unique to Vindolanda, not being found in any other fort in the Roman Empire. When excavating we look for traces of a door or hearth. Who lived here and why? Ongoing excavation hopes to shed light on this intriguing Round house mystery.


The ‘wall’ of Shoes

This is a stunning, eye catching museum display. Giving the appearance of a shoe shop window, each item highlights, in a personal way, the different people who lived here, their age and gender, through the variety of footwear styles and uses, from the tiny baby shoe to a giant marching boot. Just a small sample of the five thousand incredibly preserved leather shoes that have survived!


Replica Pottery Kiln

This reconstruction is archaeology in action. Having helped with its construction under the direction from Graham Taylor, of Potted History, I can now understand how a Roman pot is produced from a kiln made from simple natural materials of clay and sticks. The kiln can be watched by visitors as it is stoked to over eight hundred degrees. There is great anticipation as the sealed lid of the kiln is opened and the finished pots are lifted out and admired.