Emily, Over and Out

Although my time in the UK is not quite over yet, sadly this past Saturday I had to say goodbye to the place I have called home the past six weeks. On Friday afternoon we left the Vindolanda site for the last time, and said goodbye to everyone that had been with us from the beginning of this adventure, and those who had only had time to stay for two weeks.

Being a student of Anthropology with a special interest in Archaeology, I was excited to discover what it was like to be in the field, learning valuable new skills and techniques in a hands-on atmosphere, as well as applying the knowledge I had been taught for the past three years into the real world.

Nothing could have prepared me for the adventure I was about to begin.

Indeed, we were exposed to new techniques and knowledge, but we were also granted the privilege to meet experts in the field of Classical Studies and Roman Archaeology. We hiked along the rugged path of Hadrian’s Wall, and marveled at the utter beauty of the countryside, and appreciated the determination of the ancient peoples who had called this land home.

We visited other Roman sites and walked among the ancient stones, visualizing such places as they would have been in antiquity, restoring the past using fragments from the present.

In many ways, this experience has changed the course of my life. I now know that many times in order to understand the present, we must look to the past. I’ve decided to pursue a career in Archaeology, because now, after spending hours in the mud and the rain and the dirt, I’ve some to realize that there is no other place I would rather be, and nothing else I’d rather be doing. To hold a piece of the past in my hands, to be the only human in hundreds of years to uncover and hold something so simple as a hairpin, or a shoe or a bronze fastening…is just unreal. It enables me to reach out across the distance of time, to make a direct connection between an inanimate object and a once living, breathing, conscious person.

Of course, the opportunity to accomplish these adventures would not have been possible without the generous help of those who realize the worth of Archaeology and the importance of reconstructing such ancient cultures in order to better understand the history of humanity. I would like to take this time to thank every donor who has helped the Vindolanda Field School and the Vindolanda Excavations; know that your generous offer has enabled me (and countless others) to participate in this life-changing experience.

In addition to our generous donors, I would also like to thank the staff and supervisors of the Vindolanda excavation for being so kind and welcoming to our group; your hospitality made the entire experience that much better, and the knowledge and experience you have shared with us will stay with us the rest of our lives.

Lastly, but most importantly, the entire field school would not have been possible without the careful planning and tremendous efforts from our field school directors, Elizabeth Greene and Alex Meyer. I thank them both for an unforgettable experience and the chance to give us undergrads the opportunity to discover and practice Archaeology and the study of the ancient Roman world.

 

In the end, saying goodbye to Vindolanda was sad but also not so hard…after all, I’m already planning my next visit!

This is Emily, signing off for now.

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Tanya signing out

Good morning blog readers!

 

It is my final day here in the UK. My time here has come to an end and Vindolanda has been good to me. I want to thank Andrew Birley, Justin Blake, Kate Sheehan-Finn, Karen,Lesley, Jan, Helen, Paul, Rosie, Emma, Harriet, David, Anthea for being a part of my Vindolanda experience and making it so wonderful.  I wish all of you the best of luck in the future and hope to see you again.  I would also like to thank the wonderful Alexander Meyer and Elizabeth Greene for allowing me to participate in this crazy-out-of-my-comfort-zone adventure and allowing me to grow as a person.  Also, I want to thank all my peers Veronica, Monika, Alex, Emma, Felicia, Emily and Declan for being there for me when times were rough and celebrating with me during the good times!

The smiles that became so familiar to us on this trip! Thank you Beth and Alex.
The smiles that became so familiar to us on this trip! Thank you Beth and Alex.
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We went on some amazing Hikes and saw spectacular views =)
Veronica and I on my birthday all dressed up =)
Veronica and I on my birthday all dressed up =)
Posing with the western flag
Posing with the western flag
Our cottage's family portrait. Four strangers coming together ended up working out really well!
Our cottage’s family portrait. Four strangers coming together ended up working out really well!
Arriving in Ambleside with the lovely Felica and Emma.
Arriving in Ambleside with the lovely Felica and Emma.

Finally, I want to thank all those involved in giving students scholarships to participate in this wonderful field school.  Without people who donate to the GO-award this would not have been possible! Your awards mean so much to the students here and I truly hope you continue to support us.

 

It is now time for me to officially say goodbye.  Until the next set of field schoolers, toodless from Tanya =)

Farewell Field School, Vindolanda and UK. You will be missed.
Farewell Field School, Vindolanda and UK. You will be missed.

The Last Waltz

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Hey everyone,

Just writing my last post for the Vindolanda Field School blog. I can’t believe that this trip is actually coming to an end. Its amazing how fast six weeks have flown by. I couldn’t have asked for a more amazing experience, this trip has been life changing. The amount of things I have seen in the last few weeks, and throughout this trip have been fantastic. From the numerous trips to different sites and museums, the hikes along the wall, and the experience of being able to participate in a full scale archaeological dig, I cannot begin to express how thankful I am for this opportunity. Our professors Dr. Beth Greene and Dr. Alex Meyer have taught me so much in these last few weeks and have been amazing mentors to all of the students here at the field school. I would personally like to thank them for giving me this opportunity to come along for the journey. Uncovering the kiln over this last month has been a personal highlight of this trip and I have enjoyed how the process of archaeology unfolds more and more of a feature as time progresses. It was a bit rocky there for a little while and we were unsure of exactly what we were dealing with, but in the last two weeks or so, we were finally able to determine that this feature was a kiln, and I am extremely proud to say that I was apart of this discovery. Without being given the opportunity to attend this field school, I would have never had the opportunity to be apart of such a discovery. I would also like to thank the people who donated to the Field School through the GOaward program, without individuals such as yourselves, many of us would not have been able to afford to attend such an amazing program, you are as much apart of our success as anyone, and I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart. This Field School has given me the opportunity to realize that archaeology is something that I want to make my future career, and without the help of people like Dr. Greene and Dr. Meyer, and the help of the donors, I may have never been able to realize this dream. Once again, thank you for everything, and I hope you have enjoyed reading our adventures in the North of England.

That’s all for now. Take care everyone.

Declan

 

I Bid You Adieu

 

I had a wonderful time at the Vindolanda Field School and am very sad that it has ended. I met many amazing people and have memories that I will never forget. Not only I did I learn a lot about archaeology and Roman Britain, I learned a lot about myself and those around me as well. Special thanks to Beth and Alex for organizing everything and keeping us all sane. Also to Andy, Justin, and Kate and all the other volunteers and workers that we met onsite. I also would like to thank the GO Award supporters for giving many of us this amazing opportunity. I’m sure there will plenty of reunions to come when we all return back home. Finally, I leave you with some of my favorite group photos from the trip.

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All the Canadians (and honourary Canadians)
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Group shot with new friends Rosie, Emma, Harriet, and David.
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Bonding time at sunset on the lake.

Over and Out

View of Vindolanda
View of Vindolanda

I cannot believe that my time here at Vindolanda is over. The 6 weeks have flown by so quickly it is hard to gather up all the memories that I have experiences. But here is goes.
First and foremost this trip would not be even remotely possible without the tireless efforts from our much loved Professors Elizabeth Greene (Beth) and Alexander Meyer (Alex). I count myself one of the lucky people who are able to know these two amazing people. It was a huge responsibility to take on such a project like handling 8 University students, especially in another country. But their ability to inspire students towards archaeology and the many facets associated with it is something I believe is a perfect example of the best kind of Professor. Alex (AKA sensei)
Beth!
Next on the list are the 7 new friends that I have made on this experience. Though working beside Tanya, Alex, Declan, Monika, Emily, Emma and Felicia every day for 6 weeks I could only grow a deep appreciation for each of them. We have definitely gotten closer within the period we have spent together and we will all be keeping in touch-I’m sure- with each other afterwards. (Reunion !)
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I cannot continue without acknowledging all who contributed to scholarships for the Field-schoolers this year. Your GOaward donations have meant the world to not only myself but also all of the other students who were the happy recipients to the awards.
And lastly all of the amazing people I have met along the way. Starting off with Andrew Birley, Justin Blake, Kate Sheehan-Finn, Karen, Helen, Paul, Rosie, Emma, Harriet, David, Anthea, Jazz (lol) to name a few!

But this is me signing off
– Veronica

The Kiln Lives!!

Hey everyone,

So I know its been a little while since my last post, things have been extremely busy in the trench. I have some great news about the status of my feature that I have been working on for a month now. I can’t believe that a month has gone by already since I started working on the flue. So I know in my last post I stated that what I had originally thought to be a flue leading to a larger kiln turned out to be some kind of work station, I now know that this is not the case, and it is in fact a kiln for firing pottery and tile. In cases of large scale archaeology projects such as this, hypotheses may change from time to time as the excavation uncovers more and more of the feature. After uncovering the turn in the wall heading to the west, and then uncovering its 90 degree turn back to the north I was confused as to what this structure may have been. There appeared to be a large wall running to the north, with extremely straight foundation edges that were made up of large cut sandstone blocks, much the same as the ones that made up the wall of the flue and the large platform next to it. I then took the necessary steps to excavate on the other side of the wall and found that it not only contained no traces of tile and pottery wasters (as was the case within the interior of the kiln) and was not found to contain any of the crushed sandstone either. It was instead found to contain natural clay, which we now believe to be a natural sloping hill which the kiln was built into.

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This image shows the stone platform on the right, with its sandstone wall extending to the north. This is what I believe to be the western wall of the kiln. The bottom of the picture is the interior of the kiln that was filled with pottery and tile wasters.

After this was completed I had to extend the trench further to the north in order to uncover the rest of the sandstone wall which disappeared under the turf heading to the north. Once this new section had been de-turfed and I managed to dig down to the same level of the trenches I previously excavated, and was pleased to find that this wall turned back to the east and appeared quite clearly to be the making of a large kiln structure. With the help of Tanya, and a volunteer excavator named David, who were excavating the eastern wall of the kiln, we were able to discover that there was an identical stone wall to the east which followed the same turns and pattern as the western wall. This was quite clearly suggesting that this was a building of some kind and that the two walls were joined together to the north, following the line of the wall which I had just uncovered. The section to the east that they uncovered was also found to contain a large amount of poorly fired clay pottery and tile wasters, much the same as my excavated areas. These are key items in determining that this structure was in fact a kiln. These are the exact types of things we hoped to find to prove our hypotheses correct. These wasters in conjunction with the burning found in the pit last year and at the mouth of the flue earlier, prove that this is in fact a kiln. I am ecstatic to say that our original hypothesis was correct and that this structure is a kiln. More work will need to be carried out to find the rest of the northern wall, but since I am leaving tomorrow this will have to undertaken by the new volunteers coming into the North Field in a week.

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This image is taken from the north end of the trench and is looking south. This shows how large and straight the stone foundation is of the western kiln wall. You can clearly see at the bottom of the image the 90 degree turn to the east (left in picture) and how the wall is heading to connect to the eastern wall. The right and bottom of the image (outside the wall) is the section of natural clay containing no crushed sandstone or tile/pottery wasters.

 

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In this final image you can see the outline of the eastern wall on the left side of the picture. It has been badly robbed out before this structure was filled in but it follows the same pattern and angles as the western wall on the right. The flue is directly at the top centre of the image and leads to the ash pit. The bottom middle of the picture is the kiln firing chamber which was filled with pottery and tile wasters and would have held pots and tiles for firing.

It has been amazing uncovering this important discovery and I have loved every minute of it. Finding such an important structure in the North Field may help to shed light on what may have been taking place out here, outside of the fort proper and the vicus, and will hopefully help to provide insight into this unknown area. It has been a great pleasure sharing this find with you and I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have. That’s all for now.

Cheers!

Declan

So long, farewell!

The last day of field school is upon us. These past 6 weeks, we have deturfed, dug, discovered stratigraphy, perfected our barrel and shovel form, found many cool artifacts, travelled, and above all we have grown as young archaeologists and individuals. A big thank you to those who donated scholarships. The Eudaemon Global Opportunities Award was a tremendous help in funding my experiece at Vindolanda and I am forever grateful for it. To end, I am posting a picture of the sunset at Ambleside.

Farewell! :)
Farewell! 🙂