The end of my time with the Vindolanda Field School has been looming on the horizon over this past week. I dread goodbyes, and am certainly not good at them – you can count on me for a lot of tears. But as the last day at Vindolanda finally approaches and the nostalgia starts rolling in, I find I can’t stop smiling at so many moments from the trip…
“THEY’RE HERE” (*panic ensues*)
The classic mantra of every workday morning, when the lookout sights Beth and Alex’s car pulling into the cottages to take us to Vindolanda. This usually takes place when nobody is ready, inciting mass panic as the cry is echoed across both cottages and people scramble to get ready.
“Ahh, it’s just a little bit of bone”
The characteristic understatement of excavation. Generally used when someone discovers something quite large and impressive, like a large cattle skull, a beautiful piece of Samian pottery, or a complete writing tablet.
“Alright, Elizabeth, re-engage the wellington…”
Following an altercation with a stubborn rock, Elizabeth and Avery were getting ready to lift it to a new location in the vicus trench. Standing in incredibly squishy mud, with Andy supervising from above, the two girls lifted the rock up and prepared to step forwards. Suctioned into the ground, Elizabeth’s foot flew out of her boot and into the mud. After a ten second pause where all three individuals stared at said foot, Andy calmly restored order to the operation before Elizabeth and Avery collapsed with laughter.
“I’ve found a thing – I don’t think it’s anything, but just in case it is a thing, here’s the thing”
This well-worn sentence encompasses the archaeologist’s dilemma when sorting through excavated material from the trench. When keeping an eye out for a writing tablet, suddenly every sliver of wood is filled with promise, and each curved piece of rock a beacon of potential. It is better to ere on the side of caution when trying to decipher an artefact, even if you have to preface it with a lengthy preamble of caution (thanks Penny for always accepting our pieces of bark for inspection!).
“Oh are you getting up? Can you get me a biscuit?” “Oh me too!” “And me!” “Bring the barrel!”
Your Vindolanda scholars have successfully adopted the important British institution of tea. Teatime is observed religiously each day, and after pouring a hot cup everyone carefully analyzes the biscuit selection available. Often, however, it quickly becomes apparent that simply three biscuits each will not suffice, meaning that teamwork and multiple visits to the biscuit barrel are required.
These past five weeks have been full to the brim of good memories and laughter. However, they are just small pieces of the overall experience. I have been part of an incredible team, have worked at an awe-inspiring site, and helped discover more of the story of Vindolanda, all for which I am incredibly grateful.
The job of uncovering the fort’s narrative is far from over, which to me means one thing: see you again soon Vindolanda, for I’ll be back.