Hello everyone! I would like to start off by thanking all of you for the opportunity to let us share our adventures with you, for it truly was an adventure, and one that I would never forget. I hope the magic of Vindolanda and Northern England has infiltrated into you all, if it hadn’t already. I first learned about this experience through last year’s blog myself, and needless to say that applying to Field School was one of the best decisions of my life. Before this, archaeology had always seemed like a wonderful career path, but one that was woefully out of reach, not having had a glimpse of it outside a classroom. Now, having personally ‘hoicked’ out of the ground the very artefacts we discuss at length in class, it all seems very real to me. Being at these Roman forts in the British frontier has really done nothing but pique my imagination. It’s really something to be sitting by the remains of a Roman fort wall and picturing a horde of Roman cavalry thundering through the gates. Essentially, being in the very place that these people inhabited so long ago really humanizes the historical facts. For example, running my fingers over the actual thumbprint of the maker of a piece of pottery, or reading the writing tablets allowed me to really envision the daily life on the frontier, and forge this direct connection with these people from 2000 years ago, who were in many ways very much like us.
There is so much I’ve learned about the archaeological process with my hands-on experience, such as the different approaches to tackling different features, and the bevy of new questions that arise with each new discovery. How does everything we find fit into the big picture at Vindolanda, or even the bigger picture of Roman Britain and the Empire as a whole? For example, the wattle and daub roundhouses that we helped uncover in the Pre-Hadrianic Period IV fort vicus in Trench B exhibited a vernacular Celtic building style, but was littered with Roman material culture. This raises many questions as to the nature of the influence the native population had on the Roman army in Britain, or even to the diverse backgrounds members of the military would have had. One of the things Vindolanda has helped me realize is that there is just so much more to discover, and we do not by any means know everything there is to know about history. There is still so much work ahead to be done, and I will do my best to ensure that I will be there again to help solve the new mysteries of Vindolanda that crop up everyday. These six weeks have taught me so much about about myself and the world of archaeology, and I come home a different person, having had these unforgettable experiences , and reaching new personal milestones(the new muscles certainly help). I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart Beth and Alex for their tireless effort in bringing this all together into a smashing success. I shudder to even imagine the amount of planning and hard work that went into having us all tag along. It’s really something to see your professors into the dirt and muck sweating alongside you everyday (you guys really are tanks and have inspired me to start lifting weights back home). As for the rest of you lot, I’ve come to love each and every one of you, and the hilarity that ensues with all of us in a room or the trenches together. Your unique quirks are what really made this trip memorable. I would also like to thank all the wonderful individuals that I have come to know and am loathe to leave behind at Vindolanda. The Second Cohort of Canadians will be back to find more of those writing tablets (after all I did promise Andy) and make off with some more tea and biscuits.