Farewell!

The time has come to say goodbye. My wonderful six weeks here in Vindolanda has unfortunately come to an end. This has been an experience I will never forget! I feel remarkably privileged to have excavated at Vindolanda. This trip has changed me in many ways. Before this trip, I don’t think that I have ever stared at dirt so intently. Now I can’t wait to do it again. I’ve been bitten twice. Once by the travel bug and second by the archaeology bug. I am itching to come back next year and rekindle friendships with old friends. 
 
Signing off,
Rohana

Celebrating Canada Day!

A belated Happy Canada Day to all our readers! Even though we’re across the pond, as proud Canadians  we decided to show off our patriotism and share Canada Day with all our British friends. We Canucks banded together and threw a smashing party on Sunday evening. Sheperd’s Heft was decorated with Canadian flags and banners that were sent to us by Robin’s family. Our invitees included our British friends, the Dean and his wife (Michael and Val Milde) and some of the donors.

Canada Day demands for Canadian cuisine and we rose to the occasion. Our menu for the evening was burgers, pasta salad and most importantly Poutine. For dessert, we decided on pancakes (toppings included a healthy dose of maple syrup, strawberry jam, chocolate chips, whip cream and ice cream). For many of our invitees, the idea of mixing french fries (or chips as they’re commonly called here), gravy, and cheese curds did startle and raise a few eyebrows.  Some were curious and excited while others were sure we were preparing them for a heart attack.

The afternoon was a flurry of activities. Amanda, Nikki, Meagan and myself peeled and chopped potatoes to the energetic music of Bollywood. Robin brought out his inner Martha Stewart and tidied and organized the cottage to a T, while Mary prepared and mixed the pancake mix. Gravy Hands Dan hovered over the stove and kept a watchful eye over the gravy with Meagan working as his part-time assistant. Once the potatoes were ready, Sarah threw them in the deep-fat-fryer (a beautiful piece of equipment that all of us are proud of and that was acquired from Vindolanda on loan).
Our lovely guests arrived, bringing gifts of their own. Once the food was ready, Amanda was selected as the honorary representative to give a Poutine tutorial. Simple instructions were given to the watchful crowd: chips, cheese curds, gravy, eat! Everyone was skeptical at first but immediately fell in love with the food 🙂 Terry even went for seconds! And for desserts, we served pancakes, again a wonderful and delicious treat.
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Amanda leading the way and teaching everyone how to make Poutine!
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Gravy Hands Dan.
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Terry trying his first poutine!
As everyone was eating, we surprised Sarah and belted out Happy Birthday. The birthday girl got the chance to blow her candles from her cookies ‘n cream ice cream.  Beth and Rob also enjoyed a bite! 😉
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Happy Birthday Sarah 🙂
Our Canada Day party was a great success. We had an awesome time cooking together, and having the opportunity to share a part of Canadian culture with our friends here in England. Our guests enjoyed themselves, which was the main thing. We’ve definitely set a tradition here at field school that future students will have to live up to!
To all of the Canadians reading this, Happy Canada Day from all of us at Vindolanda!

Walking Through Edinburgh

On Saturday June 22nd, we woke up bright and early and started off our day with our walking tour of Edinburgh! Our guide Andrew led us through many historical and fascinating parts of the city. We got the chance to admire the architectural beauty of St.Giles’ Cathedral which happens to be one of the only church in the world that boasts of having a sculptured angel playing the bagpipes.

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We made our way through Edinburgh admiring the beauty of the city as Andrew told us stories of interesting people who came from the city or visited it. He pointed out shops and pubs along the way that were local favorites, and generally helped us see what a great place Edinburgh is.

Our next major stop was the Greyfriars’ cemetery. It also happens to be the perfect setting for a thriller music video. The church in Greyfriars’ cemetery was built in 1620 and burials had been taken place since the late 16th century. Andrew regaled us with tales of body snatching and supernatural incidents. Unfortunately, body snatching was quite common in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Body snatchers would enter the cemetery in the dead of night and steal the freshest bodies. They would sell the bodies for dissection or anatomy lectures in medical schools throughout Edinburgh. Family members were forced to come up with creative ways of protecting the deceased. Poorer relatives had no other choice but to keep watch late into the night while wealthy relatives were able to put up iron cages around the deceased’s grave. This was done to prevent body snatchers from kidnapping the deceased’s body. Pushed by desperation and greed, body snatchers would murder their victims rather than kidnap corpses from graveyards. One such notorious case is the Burke and Hare murders. For nearly a year, William Burke and William Hare killed 16 victims and sold their bodies to doctors and medical school. Their method of murder was highly sophisticated; they compressed and smothered the chest of their victims so that the cause of death was untraceable.

On a happier note we ended our tour with the story of Greyfriars Bobby, a loyal and faithful dog of an Edinburgh police chief that loyally guarded his masters grave for 14 years. A life-like statue of Bobby was made quite close to Greyfriars’ cemetery and is a popular tourist attraction and place for pictures. Lucky enough, all of us took a picture together including our tour guide Andrew with our Western flag!

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Drawing Course

On Saturday June 15th, we took a break from excavation and museum tours to learn a different, but very important skill in archaeology: drawing illustration. Drawing illustration has many advantages over more modern tools such as photography and photoshop. By drawing an archaeological find, you are allowed to magnify important features of the finding such as patterns, scratches, texture, etc. Once an archaeological find is stored away, a hand-drawn image is used in reproductions for texts and reference. Often archaeological drawings are some of the most important pieces of evidence for a text because they demonstrate detail that photography cannot.
Lucky for us, our teacher Mark has years of experience drawing on archaeological sites and recording archaeological finds. We learned about pottery drawing, small finds drawing, section drawing and digital illustration. Everyone’s inner artist came out as we first practiced on teacups before moving on to pottery pieces, animal bone, Roman glass, hairpins and brooches. A bit of patience was needed and a lot of coffee was provided!
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Here is everyone intently listening to Mark’s explanation of artefact drawings.
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Amanda is quite the artist! She’s very focused on perfecting her illustrations.
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Happy Memories

Our weekend trip to Lake District was a memorable experience! We all got to learn a bit about each other, especially about our professors Dr. Greene and Dr. Meyer. We found out that they got engaged in Ambleside, the beautiful town where we kicked off our wonderful tour. We all thought it would be a great idea to go back to the restaurant where they got engaged and bring back some happy memories. Thanks to Dr.Greene’s superb memory, we were able to track down the exact table where they got engaged. Image

Hello everyone!

Hello everyone! My name is Rohana Buzamlak and I am a fourth year university student studying Classical Studies and French Language and Literature from Western University, London ON Canada. Roman archaeology has always interested me and once I heard about the Vindolanda Field School, I immediately applied and jumped at the chance to explore Roman Britain. The Vindolanda Field School is my first archaeological trip and I couldn’t have asked for a better place!

Vindolanda has blown my mind. It boasts of a great museum where one can see unique and interesting artefacts (such as the Vindolanda Writing Tablets) and the impressive foundations of a Roman fort, vicus, Romano-Celtic temples and  a bathhouse. It’s only been two days since the group has been introduced to the site, but already I have learned so much about archaeology and Roman Britain. Archaeology is a lot more than just simply dusting off a bit of dirt off of a pottery shard! I look forward to digging and unearthing many Roman remains. I think that by the end of the 6 weeks, myself and the other Western students will have perfected the art of avoiding animal droppings without looking at the ground.

Until next time!