News Release: 8th September 2022

Vindolanda Adventure: New free to access online game brings Roman fort back to life.


A new educational resource for budding video gamers and archaeologists is set at the ancient Roman fort of Vindolanda in Northumberland launches on 11th September 2022.

This online game and exhibition brings to life real-people from the world-famous Vindolanda tablets, Tagomas and Lepidina, with the aim to help children learn more about computer science and the ancient world.

‘Vindolanda Adventure’ is the result of a unique collaboration between experts at the UK’s largest games development studio Creative Assembly, Newcastle University, and the Vindolanda Trust. Combining the worlds of computer science, gaming, and archaeology, players journey back to Hadrian’s Wall at the start of the 2nd century AD and through a series of mini-games and adventures discover how our understanding of life on the Roman frontier is still relevant today.

Players take on the role of two ‘sprites’, Tagomas and Lepidina, who feature in the original ancient Roman written postcards: The Vindolanda tablets. Tagomas is the standard bearer for the Vardullian (Spanish) cavalry based at Vindolanda. Lepidina, wife of the fort’s commander, is a wealthy woman of considerable influence and the invitee of perhaps the most famous of the Vindolanda writing tablets, the Birthday party invitation, which contains the earliest example of a woman’s handwriting in Europe.

Through these characters, players embark on a series of mini-games that they must complete to achieve their quest to attend the famous birthday party! On their journey, they will visit the online archives and battle enemies in the training arena. The online archives offer a variety of educational resources and activities for children that can be accessed outside of the game – they offer a wealth of material on archaeology and the video gaming world that supports learning at home and in the classroom. These resources also demonstrate to children the many career opportunities open to them through studying computer science, history and archaeology.

The game uses 2D animation and original artwork to bring the ancient world to life in a fun and vibrant way.

The game builds on the latest research carried out by Newcastle University on Roman Britain. Dr Claire Stocks, Senior Lecturer, said: “This project is an exciting collaboration between Newcastle University, Creative Assembly, and the Vindolanda Trust. The game and exhibition will support learning in the classroom and at home and shows how studying the ancient world and computer science can be fun and exciting. We hope that it will show students the possibilities that are open to them if they choose to study these subjects further.” 

Funded by Arts Fund, the exhibition game is aimed at Key Stage 2 students (7-11-year olds) but can be enjoyed by any age.

Barbara Birley, Curator at the Vindolanda Trust, said “By using the foundations of artefacts and the archaeological site, this project has developed an innovative way for young people to interact with their ancient past. Through the mini games the children will get to develop their skills in understanding Vindolanda and the Romans. In the games archive, they will discover how games are developed and encourage them to consider careers in the heritage industry or games development.”

The technical development of the game and exhibition was led by Newcastle University’s GameLab, which has worked with many of the world’s top game studios such as Creative Assembly, since it was launched more than a decade ago. Together their expertise underpins the game’s design and programming.

Joanna Green, CSR Lead at Creative Assembly, said

“Our expert games developers have worked closely with Vindolanda Trust and Newcastle University to showcase the role games can have in historical storytelling. Additionally, we’ve provided mentorship and bespoke content to see the exhibition come alive”.

Access the game here


Notes to Editors

  1. The Vindolanda Trust is an independent archaeological charitable trust, founded in 1970. The Vindolanda Trust does not receive any annual funding and relies on the visitors to both Roman Vindolanda and the Roman Army Museum to fund its archaeological, conservation and education work.  Roman Vindolanda is regarded as the most exciting archaeological site in Europe with its wealth of archaeological remains and ongoing excavations. Vindolanda is home to the world famous Vindolanda Writing Tablets, voted as Britain’s top archaeological treasure by the British Museum, these thin handwritten wooden notes have revealed an astonishing amount of first-hand information from the people who lived at this site 2000 years ago. In May 2016 the Vindolanda was awarded Designated status by the Arts Council England recognising the collection as being of national significance.
  2. Newcastle University, UK, is a thriving international community of some 27,750 students from over 130 countries worldwide.As a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities in the UK, Newcastle has a world-class reputation for research excellence in the fields of medicine, science and engineering, social sciences and the humanities. Its academics are sharply focused on responding to the major challenges facing society today. Our research and teaching are world-leading in areas as diverse as health, culture, technology and the environment. Newcastle University is committed to providing our students with excellent, research-led teaching delivered by dedicated and passionate teachers.  Newcastle is placed joint 146th in the world and in the top 20 in the UK in the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings.
  3. Creative Assembly is one of Europe's leading games development studios, founded in 1987 and located in West Sussex, UK and in Sofia, Bulgaria. With a heritage of award-winning AAA titles, including the multi-million selling Total War™series, Creative Assembly continues to build an impressive portfolio of games including the newly announced first-person shooter HYENASand through world-renowned partnerships; with Games Workshop on Total War™: WARHAMMER®, Twentieth Century Fox on Alien: Isolation, plus 343 Industries and Microsoft on Halo Wars 2. Creative Assembly has, with their exceptionally talented team of over 800, amassed a wealth of awards including multiple Best Place to Work awards and accolades from BAFTA, Music+Sound and Develop’s Industry Excellence awards.