One of the first book series I ever read as a child was Little House on the Prairie. If you haven’t read it, it’s a story about a farm girl travelling across America with her family. This sparked a flame in me that will never be quenched. These books opened a world of history and I have not turned back since. From Little House on the Prairie I moved on to the Royal Diaries series. Spanning from Cleopatra of Egypt to Anastasia of Russia, these books chronicle the lives of royalty all over the world. It was the information found in the backs of these books that made me realize people were making a career out of uncovering history.
By the time I was 12 years old, I learned about a fascinating thing called archaeology. I had heard about it in movies and TV shows but knew that what I was seeing was fiction. As I looked into this field, I came to the conclusion that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. When people ask a child what they want to do when they grow up, most say something along the lines of doctor or teacher. At 12 years old, I proudly stated that I wanted to be an archaeologist. Most children my age had either never heard of the word before or didn’t know what it meant. By the time I reached high school and had to do a project on a dream job, I chose archaeology. Since archaeology was my supposed dream job, my teacher asked me what job I would actually have. I told her that I would make my dream a reality. You all can probably imagine the reaction from most people when you tell them that you want to be an archaeologist. It elicits confused looks and skepticism. Many believe that the archaeology that gets shown on television is the real deal. Little do they know that it is so much more than that.
Vindolanda has helped to make my dreams a reality. Before going on this trip, someone asked me what I would do if I discovered that archaeology was not for me. Until someone brought this up, it had never even crossed my mind. Archaeology had been my dream for so long that I could not imagine disliking it. Once someone planted that seed of doubt in my head, I had one question for myself: What am I going to do for the rest of my life if I don’t love this? Everything that I had done in my academic career was leading to archaeology. Although excited, when I got to Vindolanda a little part of me was also nervous and worried.
But, after the first day on site, I already knew that I hadn’t made a mistake. Without having even started to excavate, I realized that I was going to love it no matter what. The feeling I got when I found my first Roman artifact was indescribable. The piece of pottery was so small that it would probably get discarded by the post excavation team but that didn’t change anything. There was no doubt as to whether or not I was on the right path. That feeling from the first artifact was tenfold when I made my first small find. Holding the barcode staff used to mark the place of the Roman game piece was one of the most exhilarating things I have ever felt. Every little piece of animal bone and leather from the vicus connects me to a past that I want to spend the rest of my life discovering.
One of the greatest feelings in the world is when you know you are on the right path in life. I’m so glad that Vindolanda has affirmed this for me and that I’ve been able to experience this amazing opportunity at such a critical point in my studies. When people ask me what I want to do when I get older, I proudly say that I want to be an archaeologist.