For the back story of Hadrian’s Wall we visited Vindolanda. (For some reason I’ve encountered the phrase “back story” several times in the last 24 hours so I feel compelled to use it.) Vindolanda was a Roman auxiliary fort (like an ancient military base) just south of the central portion of Hadrian’s Wall. Today it is a tourist attraction, historic site, and archaeological dig site.
We’ve seen plenty of Roman ruins before – in Trier, Xanten, and of course in Rome itself. This site had some ruins, like Trier, and some reconstruction like Xanten. One of the things that made Vindolanda unique was that everything was in English.
New treasures are always being found at Vindolanda.There were several dig sites on the grounds when we were there. That is messy and monotonous work.
The museum had an excellent collection of the treasures that had been found at Vindolanda. There were many shoes and sandals, as shown here, and also a huge number of other artifacts. The most notable thing found is an assortment of papers – things like grocery lists, birthday invitations, dinner menus and military orders. Apparently these papers were in a large bundle and placed in a fire for disposal. Fortunately, only the outer layers of paper burned – the rest were preserved by layers of mud. The earliest record of a woman writing a letter to another woman was in this bundle. (How will future archaeologists find such artifacts hundreds of years from now? A text message can’t be found in an archaeological dig!) Much of what is known about life at Vindolanda came from these letters.
Another treasure found at Vindolanda: this altar. The inscription on the altar confirms the name of the town.
I will agree that the site and the museum were interesting, but I loved the beautiful landscape the most. The rolling green hills are gorgeous and the grazing sheep are a bonus.