Off to the imperial fora

The Imperial Fora are a series of complexes in Rome built by the emperors to create spaces that advertised their power, wealth and accomplishments. The decoration and the enormity of the spaces is somewhat overwhelming, but it’s all brought together in an amazing museum inside of Trajan’s Markets. These pictures show the architecture and decoration on a monumental scale

So, things change every time you’re in Rome and this time the special tour inside the imperial fora went through the Forum of Julius Caesar. A rare and cool event!

Inside the Forum of Trajan with the columns of the Basilica Ulpia

Everyone demonstrates exactly how colossal some of these elements decorating the fora actually are

There’s a hole in the giant wall dividing the imperial fora from the everyday people living in the subura in Rome, allowing us to get up close and personal with the columns of the Mars Ultor temple in the Forum of Augustus

A day in the burbs at some villas

Our day out of Rome at Tivoli was a lesson in modesty…not really! Our first stop–Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli–was a non-stop jaw dropper as we marvelled at the height of the preserved walls, the intact mosaics, the daring architecture and the sheer size of this country estate:

Maria presents the private meditation space of Hadrian known as the Maritime Theatre (neither a theatre nor near the sea)

The crew inside these great spaces

Even just the black and white mosaics are intricate and mesmerizing!

Despite the rain we ate lunch around the iconic Canopus pool and grotto

Our day finished at the Renaissance palazzo Villa d’Este with its incredible gardens and fountains

And the last thing we did was wait out a monumental rain storm inside the courtyard of the palazzo. Could’ve been worse!

The Forum Romanum: Where it all happened

Our day in the Forum was absolutely spectacular from beginning to end! We had a beautiful day, which was topped off by a surprise tour of the Houses of Augustus and Livia on the Palatine Hill. Here are the highlights

The whole crew up above the Forum on the Palatine terrace

The views onto the Forum are just spectacular!

The spectacular wall paintings in the House of Augustus have just undergone cleaning and the whole space was renovated. Stunning part of the day!

We ended the day in the basilica Santa Maria Antiqua where everyone was in awe of the very early church frescoes. I could go in forever with these “best of” shots!

Western Classics in Rome!

Hi followers!

You’re accustomed to looking at this page at this time of the year to follow the exploits of a bunch of Western Classics students excavating at Vindolanda and running around Hadrian’s Wall. This year, however, we’ve brought the course to Rome!!  Follow us here to see the best pics as 22 Western students explore ancient, medieval, Renaissance and modern Rome.



Another Unbelievable Year

Folks, it’s that time again, one that I am never quite happy to acknowledge: the end of this year’s Field School. These kind of goodbyes are always bittersweet. On one hand, people leave Vindolanda with an expanded circle of friends, a knowledge of archaeology and Roman Britain, pictures of the amazing artifacts they have personally found, and a unique and unforgettable experience in one of the most beautiful places in the world. On the other hand, they have to leave Vindolanda and concede that as all good things must come to an end, so does their time here. You’ve heard from all the students as they each go their separate ways for now but I wanted to say goodbye as well and wrap up our blog for this year.

Team photo after Wednesday night badminton

Vindolanda is really special to me and the three years I’ve been lucky enough to dig here have only solidified that relationship. With each year, I learn more about the site than the year before. I get to see some of my favourite volunteers, meet some new ones, and befriend a whole new Canadian cohort of classics enthusiasts.  I am treated to the spectacular rolling hills of the Northumberland and have the opportunity to see a new piece of the UK each time. However, the one constant for me is the feeling I get when I find that piece of pottery or that scrap of leather that has been dormant in the soil for up to 2000 years. My fascination with history and with the Romans of the site never ceases. It always reminds me how fortunate I am to be part of the team that gets to build this picture of what went on thousands of years ago directly beneath our feet.

Thoroughly freaking out because I was at the end of Hadrian’s Wall in (aptly named) Wallsend, Newcastle

While I could probably list thousands of my favourite memories from the trip, I know what tops the list is the people with which I have had the pleasure of interacting with over the course of my time here. I want to say thank you to all the volunteers on the excavation for making us feel so welcome and entertaining us with your stories and your jokes. You are all what makes digging at Vindolanda so enjoyable. Saying just thank you to our site supervisors, Andy, Marta, and Penny as well as the entire staff at Vindolanda doesn’t quite express my immense gratitude for your patience, kindness, and good humour. You all are the reason I come back and plan to come back for many years to come (if you’ll have me of course). To Beth and Alex, you are the best professors one could ask for, but also some of the most thoughtful, hilarious, and inspirational people I know. It goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway, thank you for everything.

Excavation summarised: Soaked clothes after a sudden downpour, a beat up wheelbarrow, the green expanse of the site, and my archaeologist in crime in the ditch, Marta. 

Finally, I was to say thank you to YOU, the reader of the blog for following along on our adventures. One of my jobs here as senior student is to be able to share our experiences through our blog and other social media and it is always great to interact with our audience through comments, views, emails, etc… Vindolanda is an experience to share and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading our posts as much as we have sharing it.

It’s been a pleasure and until next time!


Vindolanda Field School
Cohors VI Canadianorum – an amazing group