Vindolanda is Scheduled Monument: a historic site whose importance is recognised and protected by the state. To excavate at Vindolanda, the Vindolanda Trust needs a Scheduled Monument Consent (SMC), or a permit to excavate and research.  Each SMC is connected to a research project the 2024 - 2028 SMC at Roman Vindolanda, which begins on the 8th April 2024, is called Castrum, Latin for ‘Fort’.

True to its name, the project focuses on the last remaining turfed area within the boundaries of the last stone fort at Vindolanda: the north-eastern quadrant. It also includes a segment of the eastern ditch, immediately beyond the fort walls. Castrum, which will be delivered with the help of more than 200 volunteers each year, will focus on bringing together evidence from excavations spanning two centuries. Indeed, the north-eastern quadrant has been partially explored before: Anthony Hedley excavated the Fort’s east gate in the 1830’s, Eric, Patricia and Robin Birley all explored sections of the northern fort wall, and some underlying features, between 1929 and 1997. Finally, Paul Bidwell uncovered evidence for 3rd and 4th century infantry barracks in the northernmost part of the quadrant.

Given these partial explorations the north-eastern quadrant of Vindolanda’s last stone forts still holds many worthy research aims. During the next five years, the Vindolanda Trust aims to investigate, amongst many others, the following questions:

  • Was this quadrant of the last-stone fort as densely built-up, during the sub-Roman and post-Roman period, as its southern counterparts?  After finding evidence of Christian occupation in the 5th and 6th century elsewhere on site, we are curious to know more the use of space in the late Roman and early medieval period at the site.
  • Can we compare the standing buildings and finds from the 3rd and 4th century in this quadrant with those from the other areas on the site? Were there any north-south divisions in the stone fort’s floorplans? For example, was infantry stationed north of the central range, and cavalry to the south?
  • How has climate change affected preservation in anaerobic and waterlogged environments? Have there been any changes since we last excavated the south-eastern ditch, in 2017?

In the next few years, we will not only uncover, research and publish some incredible archaeology. Together with our volunteers, we will also benefit the local communities by providing opportunities for participation and bursaries for young people to gain archaeological experience. We look forward to uncovering more of the site and creating a comprehensive floorplan and dataset for at least two of the nine levels of Vindolanda forts in our care.

Aerial view of Vindolanda Roman Fort with marked red areas for excavation in 2024-2028