Thursday, 4 June 2009

Digging around in the Roman times

Isn't it often the case that great places right on our doorstep are the ones we never visit, and so it was with us and the site at Vindolanda. NY768662

I'm still a bit sore from my tumble, so we decided to try something less strenuous than climbing up to Hadrian's Wall, so off we went to Vindolanda.
It's is a Roman Fort built in a lovely wooded hollow to the south of Hadrian's Wall and on the line of the Roman road, Stanegate.
The site is in the ownership of the Vindolanda Trust and the only place in the UK where archaeological excavations are on going. They even have a volunteer service so you can go and help with the dig, something I'd love to do if only my knees would still bend!

This is where the Vindolanda tablets were found, the best archaeological find ever, voted Britian's Top Treasure and quite rightly so.
Nothing brings history alive for us in quite the same way as the messages on these tablets do, my favourite is the trouper asking his mother to send more underpants.

It's another huge site with the largest collection of Roman buildings to be seen on the Wall.
The archaeologists will stop and speak to visitors and the days finds were in a tray near the fence so you could see quite easily what had been found.
The dig we looked at was on the settlement outside the fort where local tradesmen would have lived and worked. Pottery, glass beads, coins and bits of metal work were the 'finds' yesterday.

There was also a dig going on at the barracks area inside the fort, but we got to that bit at lunchtime when everyone had disappeared.

There's a reconstruction of the Wall with a Turret, climb up onto the roof of the turret for a great view across the site. It looks very impressive and the Wall when it was newly built must have been a sight to behold.

As it was another hot day we headed towards the cafe for refreshments, next to the cafe you'll find the museum and that's amazing. I loved it.
The soil around Vindolanda is perfect for preserving items and there are bits of shoe leather and material, imagine 2000 years ago someone ws walking in those shoes. The horse mask was incredible as was the plume from a helmet.

Everything is well labelled, well spaced and grouped logically.

The cafe was bright with a nice selection of goodies and situated in a beautiful spot next to the river.

We had a really nice day there and somehow with the excavations going on, it brought the whole Roman thing to life. The Vindolanda Trust were recently given a lottery grant and it will be interesting to see how it's spent, with the number of finds coming in each day I imagine extending the museum display area is on the list.
I liked it so much I'm signing up to be a 'Friend of Vindolanda' just £15 a year and you get free entry to this site and the Roman Army museum.

To quote from the leaflet: "The Vindolanda Trust is an independant charitable trust that raises it's income almost entirely from public support."
Great for children and with good access to the main site for people with disablities.
I highly recommend a visit.

Catch you later.

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