My experience at Vindolanda has been unforgettable. I have had the opportunity to meet and become friends with people from all over the world and I personally think that the people involved here are the most important aspect of Vindolanda. These people come from many walks of life but as a unified group, they have come together to share their common interest and work to uncover the past. It really showed me how important it is to understand the past. Though it is time for us Canadians to go, hopefully many more volunteers will come and continue our work. Through our combined efforts, one day the lives and events of those who lived at Vindolanda will come into clarity.
I would like to thank Beth, Alex, and the wonderful people at Vindolanda for giving me this amazing opportunity. I would also like to give a special thanks to those who have donated to the field school. Without them, this dream may not have come true for me. These last five weeks have been some of the best in my life and I have done things that I would never have had the opportunity to do: I have hiked long sections of the ancient frontier along Hadrian’s Wall, found things that no one has seen or touched in the last 1800 years, and most importantly, learned a lot about the history of Vindolanda, as well as archaeology itself.
But as the title implies, it is time for me to go. I hope that I will be able to come again some day. Until next time,
I hope you’ve enjoyed the live posts from our hike! Now that you’ve seen snapshots of the highlights, I’m going to change things up a bit and lead you down a more mystical path about one of the iconic locations on Hadrian’s Wall-Sycamore Gap. In English folklore, the sycamore tree behind us is believed to be a fairy tree. Among Celtic Legend, the Aos Si were spirits of nature who were driven into hiding because of human invasion. The places where they hid, such as groves and trees, became sacred. throughout the course of time these spirits became the basis for our conception of fairies. A fairy tree is similar to a sacred grove, it is where the spirit lives. It is meant to be protected and it’s thought that those who harm a fairy tree will suffer the fairy’s wrath.
However, the sycamore’s mystical roots do not end at fairy trees. Sycamore trees were also revered in ancient Egypt. Ancient Egyptians believed sycamore trees made up the east gate of heaven, where Ra would travel through each morning. Since the trees made up the gate between Heaven and Earth, sycamores where thought to have a semi-divine quality. Furthermore, they believed the goddess Hathor created the world on top of a sycamore tree. People would bury their deceased in sycamore coffins, hoping that it would connect the soul of the deceased to the mother goddess.
And as you can see from the picture below, for us it is an all-important shady spot to rest on a hot day! I hope you enjoyed this little folktale. Until next time, cheers.
My name is Ben Moore. I grew up in the small town of Simcoe, Ontario. As long as I can remember I have been enthralled by antiquity, especially Roman history and philosophy. My interest in the ancient world eventually led me to enroll in the Department of Classical Studies at Western University. I have just finished my third year at Western and I plan to graduate with an Honors degree by next summer.
I am excited to be a part of the Vindolanda Field School. I am especially looking forward to excavating next week with the possibility of uncovering an inscription, that could give us more insight into the everyday life of a soldier.