Archaeologists at work at Vindolanda Roman Site, England

This evening, I am posting information on Vindolanda, a Roman military site close to Hadrian’s Wall in northern England.

Vindolanda is an extensive site comprising both military fort and civilian settlement (vicus). Archaeological research is ongoing and has revealed a wealth of artifacts and finds including textiles, footwear, human and animal bones, weaponry, coins, leather goods and unique written communications know as the ‘Vindolanda Tablets’.

Summary information on the site as follows:

  • Original fort established around AD 85, some forty years before commencement of Hadrian’s Wall.
  • In the early years the fort was constructed of wood and hence was required to be rebuilt at regular intervals. It is likely that the fort had been rebuilt five times by the early years of Hadrian’s reign ( 117-138). At each rebuild the old fort was levelled and covered in turf, a process which created perfect anaerobic conditions for preservation of perishable items such as textiles, leather and wood. Overall, the Vindolanda fort could have been rebuilt ten times before the Romans departed in the early fourth century.
  • Initially, the fort housed the 1000 strong, Ninth Cohort of Batavians ( from Gaul/France) who departed in AD 105 to fight in the Dacian Wars (Romania). For most of the life of the fort it appears that Vindolanda was the base for the Fourth Cohort of Gauls, a unit possibly half the size of the Ninth Cohort.
  • The site today comprises (a) a playing card shaped military stone fort within which were barracks, residence of Commanding Officer and H.Q. Building and (b) a civilian settlement outside the west gate of the fort made up of homes, shops and workshops plus a bath house and granaries.
  • The site was well-engineered with water supply system part of which remains extant.
  • The physical stonework remaining today mainly dates from the 3rd and 4th centuries.
  • Vindolanda is probably best known for the famous ‘Vindolanda Tablets’, a large number of routine military and private communications written on thin veneers of wood in the mid 120s but unintentionally preserved owing to being discarded in a water-logged pit and then secured in the anaerobic conditions adverted to above. These tablets provide a unique insight into daily life and social conditions including, surprisingly, the presence of women on the frontier.
  • The site continued to be occupied into the 5th and 6th centuries, long after the collapse of Roman power in Britain in AD 410. There is evidence of an early Christian Church church on the site dating from the post-Roman period.

The site benefits from a Visitor Centre with shop, museum and refreshment facilities.

Video clip of excavations in process at Vindolanda

Video clip of Vindolanda Roman Site

Water Tank at Vindolanda Roman Site, England

Exterior Wall of Stone Fort at Vindolanda Roman Site, England

Archaeology in process at Vindolanda Roman Site, England

Landscape view of Vindolanda Roman Site, England

Interior of walled Roman Fort at Vindolanda, England

Civilian Settlement at Vindolanda Roman Site, England

Early Military Bath House, c AD100, at Vindolanda Roman Site

Granary and Stores Building, Vindolanda, England

Military Bath House at Vindolanda Roman Site, England

Temple at Vindolanda Roman Site, England

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