Outstanding Quality All objects in the Vindolanda collection are the result of research excavations. Once an object is found, it is taken to the on-site laboratory and, after conservation is complete, it is catalogued and prioritised for display at Vindolanda, the Roman Army Museum or on-site storage. The extensive collection holds objects of many different materials including metal work, wood, leather and textile as well as bulk collection of pottery, glass and animal bone. While all these groups of objects have made their important contributions to the overall history of the site and its inhabitants, some stand out more than others. The organic preservation at Vindolanda, made possible by the anaerobic (oxygen free) archaeological levels, has produced an unparalleled collection of everyday Roman objects. Anaerobic finds The Vindolanda writing tablets are probably the most famous objects to come from the site and they throw an invaluable light on the lives of the people of Vindolanda. These documents make up the oldest known archive of written material from Britain. The museum displays thirteen tablets on loan from the British Museum and actively engages an international team of experts, who continue to research and interpret these ancient texts. Anaerobic ground conditions have also enabled the survival of the leather collection, which is the largest single site collection of such objects from the Roman period. Objects include tents, a saddle, horse gear, drawstring bags, decorations and offcuts. However, the c. 5,000 items of footwear are the most evocative leather objects. Every possible type of footwear has been found, from soldiers’ marching boots, off-duty sandals, ordinary shoes, slippers and the wooden clogs worn by men, women and children. The high numbers of female and child footwear demonstrate the importance of the collection to our knowledge of the gender variation of this site. The knowledge that women and children were present in multiple periods of Vindolanda’s occupation and has changed our understanding of the nature of the military community on the northern frontier. The Vindolanda textile collection is the largest collection of Roman textiles in Western Europe. Woven almost exclusively from the wool of northern sheep, there is evidence of a variety of fragments from heavy jerseys to very thin bandages. A child’s sock and an insole for a shoe are the only complete objects but parts of tunics, cloaks, sleeping mats and striped fabrics have also been discovered. In addition to the textiles there are other extremely rare, fragile and exceptional objects. Two of these are made from a local plant called hair moss which has the property of repelling insects. The plant has long, russet red, strong, hair-like fibres which makes it ideal for use in different types of woven objects. A remarkable Vindolanda find is a wig or hat which has a complex woven top with long, loose strands of hairs which hang down to shade the face. The second object is an extraordinary helmet crest (on display at the Roman Army Museum), almost certainly the only known example now in existence, which would have decorated the top of a centurion’s helmet. Wooden objects have survived extremely well in the anaerobic levels on the site. Apart from construction pieces from buildings, including a complete set of water pipes, the wooden items are dominated by barrels, often stamped with maker’s marks, bucket and mug staves, bungs, tent pegs, fragments of furniture, boxes and bowls, hair combs and even a few toys. Metalwork, Glass and Stone The Vindolanda collection has one of Britain’s most comprehensive range of iron tools and weapons. Weapons include daggers, swords and numerous spears, arrows and ballista bolts. The tools’ collection includes everyday objects which would have been essential to the people living here: axes, hammers, wrecking bars and locks and keys. Remarkably, many of the tools could still be used and are similar to their modern counterpart. The astonishing array of personal objects from the collection demonstrates the preferences and variations in the socio-economic status of the Vindolanda people. From fine hair nets, silver and gold-tipped hair pins to objects carved from animal bones, this part of the collection shows that while some objects had a utilitarian as well as decorative purpose like the brooches and buckles, jewellery and other items were purely for individual status and adornment. The glass collection has a full range of objects including window glass, bottles and bowls, and jewellery such as beads, bracelets and rings. Outstanding amongst these is the painted glass section including a truly exceptional painted glass bowl with a gladiatorial scene which was imported from Cologne in the Rhineland. The bowl was broken in a 3rd century tavern located just outside the west gate of the fort. One fragment was found in the corner of a ditch during excavations in 1972 and two further pieces were discovered in excavations in 1992 and 2007. Now joined for the first time in nearly 2000 years, they form the most part of a painted bowl. The bowl illustrates the importance of the on-going work on the site, which continually contributes to the increasing significance of the collection. The written words of the inhabitants of Vindolanda are embedded in the collection not only through the writing tablets but also via the building inscriptions, altars, sculpted stones with religious connotation, inscribed tombstones and the numerous stamps and graffiti that form part of the collection. They remind us that there was a widespread level of literacy during this period of Britain’s history. The religious dedications are very revealing and include Jupiter (and Jupiter Dolichenus), the Fortune of the Roman People, the Genius of the Praetorium, Vulcan, De Gallia, Ahvardua, Silvanus, Neptune, Apollo, Mars Victor, Hercules, Mercury and a clutch of native gods – the Veteres, Sattada, Cocidius, Mogons and the Mother Goddess. From these inscriptions we can also get the names of the garrisons as well as the person who dedicated the altar. This range of once everyday objects (which have now become rare and precious), paired with their full archaeological context, constitutes an essential and priceless cultural resource that makes this an outstanding collection of national importance.