The home of Britain's Top Treasure: The Vindolanda Writing Tablets

Before, during and after Hadrian's Wall

Vindolanda lies just to the south of the curtain wall of Hadrian's Wall and has a very different ‘feel’ to other sites along the Wall. It lies upon the first Roman frontier in the north – The Stanegate Road and in a stunning landscape which lets your imagination really connect with its past. You will probably visit Vindolanda by driving or walking along this road to reach the fort and museum. Although first built by the Roman army before Hadrian’s Wall Vindolanda became an important construction and garrison base for the Wall, a Hadrian’s Wall fort in its own right. During this time Vindolanda was demolished and completely re-built no fewer than nine times. Each re-build, each community, leaving their own distinctive mark on the landscape and archaeology of the site.



After Hadrian’s Wall and the Roman occupation was abandoned by its imperial armies Vindolanda remained in use for over 400 years before finally becoming abandoned in the 9th century.

The Museum

The Vindolanda site today contains a modern world class museum using the latest interpretation techniques and display to tell a very old, very interesting Roman story. The museum is constantly changing with artefacts added annually as a result of the ongoing excavation programme.  In 2018 the museum was extended with a Wooden Underworld gallery, housing a rare collection of 2,000 year old wooden finds (including a toilet seat and a toy sword!).

This is why people from around the world travel to Vindolanda to experience its unique atmosphere and rare treasurers. Come rain or shine, Vindolanda, the outdoor site and indoor Museum will entertain you, your family or group.

The Vindolanda Tablets

The writing tablets are perhaps Vindolanda's greatest discovery and have been previously voted by experts and the public alike as 'Britain's Top Treasure'. Delicate, wafer thin slivers of wood covered in spidery ink writing, the tablets were found in the oxygen-free deposits on and around the floors of the deeply buried early wooden forts at Vindolanda and are the oldest surviving handwritten documents in Britain.  

Like postcards from the past, the tablets allow a rare insight into the real lives of people living and working at Vindolanda near Hadrian's Wall nearly 2000 years ago. They provide a fascinating and compelling insight into private and military lives from a very different time but are hauntingly familiar, covering matters - from birthdays through to underpants! Have we changed that much in two millennia?

Thanks to an investment running into millions of pounds, some of the Vindolanda Writing Tablets are on display in their home.

Returned to Vindolanda on loan from the British Museum in 2011, the tablets are displayed in a new state of the art, special hermetically sealed case, protected from the decaying influence of oxygen, moisture and humidity.

The Archaeology

The excavations at Vindolanda, set in its stunning landscape, aim to unravel the mysteries of its nine Roman forts/towns and countless communities. It is a huge and complicated task which is undertaken by a dedicated team of professionals leading a veritable army of volunteers. Come and see what the archaeologists discover, the excavations rarely disappoint, and continue to provide some of the most stunning examples of Roman and early British material culture to come from nine forts and nine centuries.


The physical remains include some of the following:

  • A large Pre-Hadrianic bath house and a beautifully preserved 3rd century bath house.
  • Several commanding officer’s residences and barrack buildings
  • A headquarters building
  • 3rd and 4th century evidence of village houses and workshops, latrines, and a Roman Celtic temple to an unknown Romano Celtic God.
  • The only temple to be found on display to a Roman god inside an auxiliary fort anywhere in the Roman Empire (Jupiter Dolichenus).
  • A Post-Roman mausoleum and late Roman Christian churchReplicas of a Roman temple and shop, a Romano-British house and replica sections of Hadrian's Wall in turf timber and stone.

Excavations take place every year at Vindolanda between April and September. We try and give the public as much access as possible by getting you very close to the trenches. Come along and witness the excavations taking place, you might just see our next major discovery coming out of the ground!

The Facilities

Vindolanda has a café with a range of hot and cold drinks as well as snacks, lunches and afternoon tea available. There are also toilets for visitors at both entrances and a shop in the museum to purchase souvenirs. All of these facilities are reserved for visitors to Roman Vindolanda Fort and Museum.