Vindolanda has touched the hearts of countless people, and is a beloved place to so many. It’s fitting that once a year, halfway through the excavation season, these people get together to enjoy a night of good food, great friends, and site archaeology.
The Friends are the valued sponsors of Vindolanda, who, with their membership, enjoy free admission to the site, an annual report outlining the results of our research, and this exact yearly event. I personally encourage any interested individual to look into a membership here; not only do members reap these benefits, but they also ensure that research and excavation will continue at Vindolanda for generations to come.
Friends’ Night is held in honour of these wonderful and generous people, and I can personally vouch for the night’s extravagance. Friends enjoyed complimentary wine and cheese, served by Dr. Meyer himself, as they queued up for the most delicious hog roast in the entirety of Northumbria.
Many of us were stunned to see the great Vindolanda fireball set ablaze for the first time. Guests were encouraged to write a letter and cast it into the fire, to reenact the events which led to the discovery of the bonfire site, where a number of the Vindolanda writing tablets were found after they were set aflame outside the house of the commander of the Ninth Cohort of Batavians.
Excavation directors Andrew Birley and Marta Alberti gave guests tours of the vicus and fort trenches respectively, explaining the site history and the discoveries of the excavators in these regions. With these tours came a certain sense of pride; each of us could point out exactly the areas which we helped to uncover, and marvelled at the progress we had individually made in the grand scheme of things. One small trench dug by one single volunteer can make all the difference in the world.
Though we were subjected to rain halfway through our visit, we ended the night with a marvellous view. As the sun peeked out from behind the clouds, a rainbow arced over the fort, almost as a foreshadowing of good things to come.