Hopefully you’ve been following along our adventures in Rome, studying the heart of the Roman Empire. Perhaps you might have even recognized a few familiar faces on the trip. Just in case you missed the rolling green hills and the rainy weather that you have been accustomed to (except that the past few days have mimicked the Italian sun,) we’ve come back to Vindolanda with a new team.
Introductory posts will be on their way shortly, but this year is a little different. Instead of running the field school as usual, we’ve brought along a team of seasoned excavators and researchers to help on site and in the museum. While we’re a bit of a smaller team, we’re excited to share with you some of the exciting things we’ll be doing over the next few weeks.
For those who have been following the blog for a while, you might be thinking, “Wow, he’s still here?” And you’d be right! For those who don’t know, my name is Prem Sai Ramani. I’ve been a student of the field school, a senior student for the past two years, and now I’ve come back for my fourth season to work on Vindolanda’s Archaeological Leather Project in the museum. As always, I’m incredibly excited to be back and at this point, it feels like I am returning to my second home.
We’ve already hit the ground running by starting off with a good old hike along Hadrian’s Wall. Here’s a picture of the team right at the iconic point of Sycamore Gap:
Look forward to some posts about the cool things we’re working on this season.
Folks, it’s that time again, one that I am never quite happy to acknowledge: the end of this year’s Field School. These kind of goodbyes are always bittersweet. On one hand, people leave Vindolanda with an expanded circle of friends, a knowledge of archaeology and Roman Britain, pictures of the amazing artifacts they have personally found, and a unique and unforgettable experience in one of the most beautiful places in the world. On the other hand, they have to leave Vindolanda and concede that as all good things must come to an end, so does their time here. You’ve heard from all the students as they each go their separate ways for now but I wanted to say goodbye as well and wrap up our blog for this year.
Vindolanda is really special to me and the three years I’ve been lucky enough to dig here have only solidified that relationship. With each year, I learn more about the site than the year before. I get to see some of my favourite volunteers, meet some new ones, and befriend a whole new Canadian cohort of classics enthusiasts. I am treated to the spectacular rolling hills of the Northumberland and have the opportunity to see a new piece of the UK each time. However, the one constant for me is the feeling I get when I find that piece of pottery or that scrap of leather that has been dormant in the soil for up to 2000 years. My fascination with history and with the Romans of the site never ceases. It always reminds me how fortunate I am to be part of the team that gets to build this picture of what went on thousands of years ago directly beneath our feet.
While I could probably list thousands of my favourite memories from the trip, I know what tops the list is the people with which I have had the pleasure of interacting with over the course of my time here. I want to say thank you to all the volunteers on the excavation for making us feel so welcome and entertaining us with your stories and your jokes. You are all what makes digging at Vindolanda so enjoyable. Saying just thank you to our site supervisors, Andy, Marta, and Penny as well as the entire staff at Vindolanda doesn’t quite express my immense gratitude for your patience, kindness, and good humour. You all are the reason I come back and plan to come back for many years to come (if you’ll have me of course). To Beth and Alex, you are the best professors one could ask for, but also some of the most thoughtful, hilarious, and inspirational people I know. It goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway, thank you for everything.
Finally, I was to say thank you to YOU, the reader of the blog for following along on our adventures. One of my jobs here as senior student is to be able to share our experiences through our blog and other social media and it is always great to interact with our audience through comments, views, emails, etc… Vindolanda is an experience to share and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading our posts as much as we have sharing it.
On Friday, June 23, 2017, the Western Vindolanda Field School celebrated the 2nd Annual Blogscars, an award show celebrating the achievements and hard work of the field schoolers over the past 5 weeks. Because it was also our final night of field school, it was a great time to reflect over the entire course and experience here in England.
The Top Post Award
As the host and producer of the Blogscars, let me share the three categories of the awards and their winners from the 2017 year. First off we have the “Top Blog Post Award” given to the author of the post with the single most number of views on any post that year. The winner of the top post award 2017 was Anna Furfaro with her post, A Rare Artifact Found at Vindolanda.
The Top Blogger Award
Secondly, we have the “Top Blogger Award.” This prestigious award is given to the blogger that, cumulatively, has garnered the most amount of views with their posts. While the top post award rewards a great post, this award rewards consistently interesting and engaging blog material. The winner of this award was also Anna Furfaro! Check out her trench tour video post over here.
The Pimm’s Cup
The final award is called the “Pimm’s Cup” and is the senior student choice award. This is given to the blog post that I believe has demonstrated a great sense of creativity, voice, reflection, and insight into digging at Vindolanda and interacting with the history of the Romans on the frontier. This award went to Elizabeth Clark’s post “A Stone Cold Reality,” a great read for sure!
Congratulations to everyone this year for their effort and for a job well done!
As we wrap up the field school for 2017, our field schoolers have gotten a chance to reflect on their time here, remember some of the great memories and moments during our time here, and sadly, say goodbye to Vindolanda. If you haven’t had a chance to read them, check out some of the sign off posts.
Amidst this somber atmosphere, there is a note of joy to report in the form of an update on our Lego Quest. If you aren’t familiar with this particular part of field school, here’s some background.
After countless trips to Sainsbury’s, a few puppy dog looks at the cashiers, and generous donations from our wonderful friends at Vindolanda, (thank you Angie, Ken, Sally, and Dolores!) we’ve finally collected all 140 cards. With our own stack of cards totaling to well over 1000 cards, this quest has been successful. We even could complete the story of the Lego book following Sam and Lily as they travel around the world.
Nothing will beat the thrill of sitting around in a circle, each of us holding a new pack of Sainsbury’s cards and eagerly tearing the package open to see if anyone has found one of the missing cards. As we found more and more, a new find became rarer and rarer making the process even more exciting. To have a complete deck is an inexplicable feeling but one that wouldn’t be possible without the collective effort of our friends.