Vindolanda signs up a new Roman army

VindolandaVindolanda signs up a new Roman army – Deposits of tiny blue vivianite crystals helped put one of the Roman Empire’s farthest flung outposts on the map.

The auxiliary fort of Vindolanda (literally white lawn) a few miles south of the Roman Wall shot to fame when archaeologists unearthed some of Britain’s most exciting and well preserved discoveries.

By far the most important were the Vindolanda Tablets, documents written on wood around 2,000 years ago which by rights should have disintegrated without trace.

Thanks to the vivianite, which removes oxygen to create anoxic conditions, the tablets were wonderfully preserved, compressed in a bracken carpet on the floor of what was a centurion’s home. The find also included leather, textiles, shoes and household items.

That was back in the early 1970’s and Vindolanda has since become one of the star attractions of the Borderlands’ rich Roman heritage.

And Vindolanda’s annual archaeological volunteer programme also has a big following. People from all over the UK and as far afield as Canada and America had their fingers poised in an attempt to gain a place for the 2012 Vindolanda excavations. The 650 places were snapped up in a matter of hours.

Dr Andrew Birley – director of excavations for The Trust said: “The programme is hugely popular. Last year we were astounded when the whole volunteer availability was over 90% filled up within 48 hours but this year has been a real record breaker. Vindolanda is a fascinating excavation site and it is brilliant to be able to share it with so many people.”

Roman Vindolanda, is fully open throughout the winter for 7 days a week from 10am – 4pm. With Roman Army Museum closing 14th November 2011 to 10th February 2012 and Vindolanda only closing from 2nd January 2012 to 10th February 2012.

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