Runner up in the Sele School writing competition

By Xander age 9

One thousand nine hundred and sixteen years ago there was a fort in Roman times called Vindolanda that was on Hadrian's Wall where you could see roman soldiers scrubbing their leather sandals and polishing their overlapping steel armour. I was a Roman messenger bird. Day after day I wondered if I would finally be chosen to send a important message about a upcoming battle or something like that. Not boring messages like "your bread is coming Mrs Honeysuckle".

Eventually the day did finally came and I was so excited! I had to warn the Emperor of Rome that there was going to be a Celtic uprising that they feared would destroy Vindolanda and they would need 150 soldiers or Vindolanda would be lost forever. So they buckled me up and sent me off.

I was soaring through the sky, the wind in my feathers. I journeyed across vast forests and huge rivers when I finally got to the Emperor. I was exhausted and the Romans took the note out of my pouch and quickly went to tell the Emperor that Vindolanda needed help. The Emperor sighed and said "send 150 of my troops to Vindolanda, oh and get me some of those great grapes".

So the soldiers waved goodbye to their families and set off on the roman boats. I, the messenger bird, clambered on to the boat to so I could get an easy trip home back to Vindolanda. My fear is that we wouldn't make it in time and Vindolanda would be destroyed. It wasn't a very pleasant boat ride, mainly because I get sea sick and half the roman soldiers were too, so I wish I had flown all the way back home.

We saw some huge oak trees on the way Back, as well as some vast rivers that seemed to go on for miles and miles, almost like it would never end. I thought we would never get there when suddenly we hit some sharp rocks! There was a colossal hole in the ship and the soldiers quickly draped some wooden planks and nails over the hole and started blocking it up. I didn't think it would be possible to block up a hole that size but they did it. One hour later we were finally there the land was in sight. We took a long hike to get back to Vindolanda and when we did we quickly ran to the gates and prepared for a brutal battle. When finally the Celts came screaming their battle song, our archers managed to kill a few of the hundreds but the Celts were able to get to the gates and smash down them down. It was a savage battle. There were broken spears and shield but we did manage to win. It took an incredibly long time to repair all of the damage to the homes and the fort but mainly the gate. The fort leader thanked the few remaining roman soldiers before they returned to Rome and all was peaceful in Vindolanda once again.

Xander submitted his story to the Vindolanda Trust as part of a writing competition with the Sele First School in Hexham. The children and teachers helped to contribute feedback to the Missing Dead app. Marta, our Site Archaeologist and final Judge of the competition has this to say about his story. 

Marta says: ‘From the literary sources, we know that messages in Roman times were mostly delivered by couriers on foot or on horseback. But what a lovely idea, to write from the point of view of a messenger bird.  I found this very original and creative! My favourite part was when the bird hitched a ride back to Vindolanda on the ship. I would have done the same. Your creativity and ability to construct a good story make you my runner-up. Well done!’