At the end of these incredible 5 weeks, I find myself reflecting on the relativity of time. Never has 5 weeks flown by so quickly for me, and yet I feel like I’ve learned and experienced more than most do in a lifetime!
Though I write this on the last day of field school, I’d like to mention a few of the many ‘firsts’ this trip has given me. Things like my first archaeological feature uncovered, my first time at the ocean, my first 2000 year old object found, and of course, what’s a trip to northern England without having my first experience being completely soaked through by the rain.
Academically, I have greatly increased my knowledge of Roman Britain and how it fits into the empire as a whole; I learned more dates, terms, and names of people and places than I thought possible in such a short time. But more to the core of what this field school teaches: I learned that the following picture is not just of a hole in the ground, and it’s so much more than even a mechanism to access artefacts. At its simplest, those ‘holes’ are carefully-planned-out and intricate workings of contexts and features which give us a glimpse into how people lived 2000 years ago!
I learned how being trained to read the land coupled with modern techniques like geophysics can tell archaeologists where to drop a trench in a field of grass and actually find what their looking for! I learned how the changes and stratifications in the soil – from clay, to organic, to silt – can tell a story all on their own. I learned how to use survey, journaling, and context sheets to then record that information in an academically presentable manner. In short, I’ve learned A LOT!
And this is just a small taste of the amount of knowledge I have gained here, and I must thank the amazing Vindolanda volunteers and staff, my fellow Field School students, and of course our Rockstar Professors for this experience, for without them I would have just been playing in the mud!
May your trowel always hit silt,