Another dig, another bittersweet farewell

It’s never easy to leave a dig site you were just starting to get to know, and Vindolanda is by no means an exception. Leaving Italy and Greece left me with similar conflicting feelings: the longing of home and old friends and the desire to keep digging, to continue with the weeks-long routine full of hard but very rewarding work.

My last view of Vindolanda. I’m already looking forward to returning in the future and seeing how the site has evolved.

Vindolanda will without a doubt stay with me for a very long time, in a way more than the dirt seemingly trapped between layers of skin. The state of preservation allowed at the site – in the anaerobic layers – is remarkable, and to sort through clumps of dirt full of branches, twigs, leather, and other pristine organic material all from 1,700 or so years ago is a truly unique experience. To see a freshly excavated wooden tablet, inscribed in the distinctive Latin cursive, hits home the incredibly rare capacity of Vindolanda to preserve written documents, shared elsewhere only in Egypt.

What’s important is, of course, all of the people that make this work possible. First and foremost I have to thank Beth and Alex for letting me join the program and offering all sorts of help and guidance. The rest of the Vindolanda team, Marta Alberti in the fort and Andy Birley and Lauren Bearpark in the vicus, has been excellent to work with and very encouraging to work under. Then there’s the volunteers from across the world who were always a pleasure to work alongside. Last and certainly not least, our own Western group has been a fantastic group to dig and live with. Congratulations to all of these great people for a successful and unforgettable 5 weeks!

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