Andrew Birley

Andrew and Gary both have a passion for Roman Archaeology along the Wall. Andrew has worked around Vindolanda and Magna for most of his life and is the third generation of his family to work at Vindolanda, he is currently the CEO and Director of Excavations. Gary is the Vice Chair of the Vindolanda Trustees and has been volunteering on the excavations for over 20 years. Andrew and Gary have been friends since university. They feel like this is an exciting cause that will help archaeologists across Hadrian’s Wall to understand more about this amazing frontier.

As an experienced rider it was Gary’s idea to put the modern way of travelling to the test and see if he and Andrew could beat the ancient postmen’s’ time getting from Vindolanda to Rome and back in under 2 weeks. The Roman postal service, the Cursus Publicus had riders that could potentially travel over 100 miles a day, the equivalent of a Vespa on a full tank of fuel.

There is the potential for Magna to contain texts that may have made the same journey that Gary and Andrew will take. Similar to those found at Vindolanda that shed huge light on the people who lived at the fort 2000 years ago. In order to protect this in September* 2020 Gary and Andrew will climb onto their Vespas and leave the Roman site of Vindolanda, embarking on a 3,500-mile round trip to Rome over 13 days. Their aim is to raise £20,000 towards the excavation and preservation of the fort at Magna.

Along the way they’ll visit the homes of the Nervians, Gauls, Vocontians, Reatians, Tungrians, Batavians and many others – travelling through the lands of the ancient peoples who made Vindolanda and Hadrian's Wall their home almost 2000 years ago. Like many of the soldiers they will be carrying with them most of what they’ll need on the journey, tents, supplies, maps and documentation to navigate borders, all the while dealing with whatever the weather throws at them. The route will follow many Roman roads including 13 major Roman highways and passing through 9 Roman provinces and over 600 miles of Roman frontier.

Covid-19 Update - Andrew and Gary have had to move the original date for this fundraiser from August 2020 into September 2020 because of the on-going pandemic. However, if September becomes impossible due to travel restrictions then they will go ahead with the trip in 2021. 

You can help us to reach our goals by donating and supporting them. All of the money raised for this appeal goes directly to the Vindolanda Trust, the costs of the trip have been covered by Andrew and Gary themselves.

If you donate £35 or more (£1 for every 100 miles) you can receive an exclusive Vindolanda Via Roma patch.

Keep in touch, follow the journey, go behind the scenes with Andrew, Gary and the team by following them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Andrew Birley