I’ve been so busy with my tours that I haven’t had a day off since April 16th and so my blog posts are currently a bit shorter than usual. Even last week when I would be walking for up to 11 hours a day, I still had to start and finish my day with what I call Admin Work.
One of the places I most enjoyed visiting last week was the old Roman site of Vindolanda.Vindolanda is one of Europe’s most important Roman archeological sites and every summer archeologists and volunteers from around the world descend on the place.
The site itself comprises at least 8 successive forts of which several were occupied before Hadrian’s Wall was built. Regiments from across the Empire were garrisoned here. The visible stone fort dates to the early third century and the impressive remains include the fort walls, the headquarters building and the commander’s house. Extensive remains of the civil settlement lie just west of the fort with buildings lining a main street.
Vindolanda has an excellent on-site museum which provides a magnificent display of the many stunning objects found during the excavations. These include a remarkable and unique collection of leather and wooden objects that bring life in the fort and in the adjacent civilian settlement to life – shoes, clothing, tools, cooking, crafts like wood and metal working, military equipment, horse harness.
To my delight, whilst I was nosing around, I got talking to one of the archeologists there and just then a pair of old Roman shoes were unearthed and I got to hold them before they were cleaned up.
I can tell you that they were very smelly indeed but it was a strange feeling to be holding the posessions of someone who lived and died almost 2,000 years ago. Perhaps the next time I visit Vindolanda, they may be on display in one of the masses of display cabinets in the museum.
Don’t worry about hurrying up if you too want the chance to unearth some Roman treasures; current estimates suggest it will take another 250 years before the site is full excavated.