My family had friends in Giggleswick who went to live in Colchester so we went to visit them in the 1950's. I remember that next door to their bungalow a field was being cleared for housing and what was found was a lot of pottery kilns, so I suppose I had my baptism on this subject at that time. I have since found a book published which had those kilns in with our friends' names mentioned in the reports..this brought back happy memories of those days.  So it was inevitable that I should come to Vindolanda in the early 1960's on a school History trip from Settle and my number 1. is the site as it was then.

There was not much to be seen in those far-off days - a bath house; the west gate, the north gate, the HQ in the middle and a lot of lumps and bumps. Our History teacher was very fond of Chesterholm Fort - as it was in those days - we came here twice. Recently I was told that he and the current Director's uncle had been at University together. So it is not very surprising that when the Friends of Vindolanda was announced, I promptly joined. This was in 1970. In 1972, having got married to Mike McGuire in 1971, we both came to excavate...he found his altar, I found nothing, so did some finds washing, and we both got very sunburnt! However, being Friends kept us in touch with the site. As part of a University of Nottingham Certificate in Archaeology course, I also got involved with the Derbyshire Archaeological Society. Eventually as its Programme & Publicity Secretary I then had great pleasure in going to lectures given by eminent and famous archaeologists  at 'Current Archaeology Live' and similar conferences and then asking them to come and give our society a talk. Nearly always a full house in one of the University of Derby's lecture theatres at when they came.

Nowadays I work  as a volunteer in Post Excavation which requires cleaning the pottery, bits of glass, loads of iron nails, lots of bone etc and anything else in the bagful. Post Ex is kinder on the knees but the hands get the activity instead! All these items are sorted when dry and collated onto a computer spreadsheet so that anyone wishing to study an item knows when it was found and recorded and where to find it in the museum stores

2. In the autumn of 2017 I cleaned this item in the lab, where a group of us work when the excavation finishes for the year. We had worked our way through seemingly endless bags of leather off-cuts as well as shoes, some complete, some in bits, all shapes and sizes, as well as bits of tent panels (very difficult to clean in a small bowl, they just do not fit!).  The rest of the group had finished early but I was determined to get to the end of this particular bagful. Working in the sink area in bright sunlight I was surprised to see something that was a very warm beige colour and starting to darken. Looking closely I could see that it had been part of someone's clothing but because it was now black I knew it was also very old. I could see the warp and weft of it and a strand was hanging off it. If you had been there you would have seen me skipping about that room with glee. As I was coming away from the lab I met The Boss and told him. I got a High-5 because it had come from the cavalry quarters (now reburied) and only the officers would have worn best quality cloth like that. The spinners were generally in their early teens and by the time they were 20 they were almost blind from doing such fine work.

3. This is part of a Face Pot. I was washing the pottery finds and really could not think what it was. Well, this pot had had a mouth attached to it, near the bulge of the pot. It was an odd thing to see and I couldn't think what it could be. Someone said it might have been stuck onto the belly of the pot but why it wasn't a spout they couldn't think. My motto is, if in doubt, go and ask', so I did. The answer didn't come back for a few hours and then I was told it was a decoration, not a spout. The reason it looked so odd was that the tongue part had snapped off.

4. In November in schools' half term, the site is open to the public and the volunteers take part in displays on the site. There is an old crofter's cottage in the museum grounds and we work from a display usually of pottery but in this picture it's bones. No, not human in this case, mostly animal with some bird bones. Some of the volunteers are extremely knowledgeable about animal bones and for beginners like myself we learn a lot. As you can see it was a hands-on approach for the visitors. Alongside are some samples of pottery and we enjoy showing the children the thumb prints left by the potter and other small items. The public thus get a good idea of what was being used and for what. We keep our coats on in this place as there is very little heating! Brrrr

5. I was always being told to 'find a coin, Fred!' during my weeks of actual excavation (various archaeologists could never remember my name, so I am sometimes known as 'Fred') and indeed, I did once find a green stain where a coin had been, so close but not close enough.


Then last year I found this in one of the finds bags . Although it's old, the design and lettering can be seen and it dates to Hadrian.

My cup runneth over!