Tempus fugit. Time flies. Never has a more truthful proverb been spoken. It’s hard to believe that a month and a half has already passed and that I’m writing my final blog post on a train heading for Manchester airport. Yet here I am, at the same loss for words to express just how wonderful my Vindolanda experience has been (and how jealous I already am of next year’s field school team) as when I saw our site up close for the first time. Dumbstruck is truly an understatement. So I’m going to cheat a little and relate my experience to you all through numbers as best I can. Apologies in advance to those of you who are lactose intolerant; this one’s going to be heavy on the cheese.
12 incredible Roman forts we visited throughout the course of our adventure, some more excavated than others but wondrous nonetheless
11 new additions to my family: Rob, Robin, Sarah, Nikki, Mary, Rohana, Meagan, Stephanie, Amanda, Beth, and Alex
10 times I thought for sure I’d found a writing tablet…
9 Knicks of Thurwall, which we all hiked like pros
8 hilarious cows in the North Field, which seemed to switch between adorable and offensive depending on their state of digestion
7 days of adventure and excitement a week (a.k.a. the Field School guarantee)
6 weeks spent hiking and excavating at the most beautiful Roman site in Britain
5 of those weeks spent hiking and excavating in UNBELIEVABLY GORGEOUS weather (sorry 2012 team)
4 hands needed to HOIK! many a rock out of many a hole
3 adorable dogs – Gypsy, Jess, and Fred – that served as wonderful mascots…in lieu of Aggie, of course
2 small finds to my name which were absolutely exhilarating to discover
1 big place in my heart for UWO and Vindolanda
∞ smiles stretched, jaws dropped, laughs guffawed, lessons learned, and memories made here in the UK
The list could certainly go on but I’ll cap it here for the reader’s sake. Hopefully I’ve been able to get across even a fraction of the experience to you all, but truth be told it’s the kind of thing that must be lived to be understood in full. I honestly can’t recommend this trip highly enough to any UWO students (or willing volunteers of any age for that matter!) with a penchant for adventure and an open mind. Nowhere else will you be welcomed into such a diverse community and well-structured program, and on that note there are some people to be thanked!
A massive thanks to Beth and Alex for their endless hours of work and preparation (both home in Canada and during Field School), their unconditional helpfulness, and frankly their patience with a bunch of amateur archaeologists; your vacation is well-deserved and good luck with the rest of the season! Thank you so much to the incredible staff at Vindolanda and all those involved in the operation who we befriended along the way; your open arms and endless enthusiasm will never be forgotten (nor will your biscuit supply)! Thank you to all of Beth’s and Alex’s associates in the UK for your time and effort; your tours and lectures were enlightening to say the least! A special thank you to all those who donated to the various scholarships we as students were able to apply for; your contributions helped to make this trip a reality for many of us and has personally strengthened my ‘pay it forward’ mentality. And last but certainly not least, many thanks to my peers; sharing accommodations with others is often difficult, but these six weeks were an absolute pleasure! May your memories be fond and your trowels sharp!
On that note, ladies and gentlemen, I’m signing off. Thanks for tuning in and keep an eye out for the 2014 crew next summer!