Our third week of excavation at Vindolanda has come to an end and every day is still as exciting as the first. Going up to the tea shed before the visitors arrive, before the other excavators arrive, there’s a certain beauty that can’t be described. The day then picks up speed as we head to our trenches to begin excavations. At lunch, most of us voraciously eat to fill the appetite we worked up while talking about what’s been happening in the other trench. Soon enough we’re back to work, then tea, then work, and all of sudden it’s the end of the day and most people are ready to go home. With this routine, you can easily forget to take in the view of Vindolanda.
I know I would tell myself “don’t worry, I can look around tomorrow or next week!” I’ve realized this week just how quickly time is running out for me to explore and really take in Vindolanda. So these past few mornings and lunches, I took my time to look around the entire site and take in its beauty. As I dabbled with this idea, some of my fellow field schoolers decided to do the same.
After buying my lunch in the cafe, I spent my time appreciating the beauty of this little valley. The stream meandered its way past the kiln, under the bridge, and in front of the reconstructed temple. If the Romans came down from Vindolanda to this stream, they would have heard the same sounds I can hear right now as the water makes its trek to wherever it ends up. The trees that line the paths as I walk up towards the site sway in the wind and whisper things to those who listen. One could hear the whisper of the trees themselves and imagine that it’s the distant voices and sounds of the Romans coming from the fort just above.
I also realized I had never been on the replica of Hadrian’s wall that stands at Vindolanda. I lazily made my way over there with my ear buds in, enjoying the tone the music set to my leisurely pace. I felt like the school children we see each day as I climbed the stairs to the top of the wooden turret and then the stone one. Looking down onto the site from this vantage point feels almost dream like. I can just imagine the various phases: the Vicus, a noisy and busy place outside of the stone fort, the timber forts and barracks would just below with a different kind of ruckus.
I’ve sadly begun to think about how I will soon be leaving Vindolanda. Sad as it may be that I’ll be leaving soon, I have a feeling I’ll be back to Vindolanda, maybe as a visitor, or even a volunteer. But until then I will make sure to soak in all the beauty of Vindolanda while I still have the chance.