As we were driving to Vindolanda this morning, I realized that I had not taken pictures of the site. I couldn’t believe it! In the past five weeks, I never took time out of the day to walk around the site that has grown to mean so much to me. Every time I thought about it, I would tell myself that I would just do it another day. Today, it became clear to me that today was that final day. I hurriedly rushed around the site, trying to take as many pictures as I could within the hour lunch break.
When I got to the west gate of the fort, the side closest to the Vicus, a feeling came over me. I remembered back to when I originally found out about the Vindolanda Field School. I was a grade 12 student who hadn’t fully decided on the universities to which I would apply. I recalled the day that I went to the information meeting. This was two years after I initially found out about the program. When I saw the slide show of the site, I thought that nothing could be more amazing than an archaeological excavation. All of a sudden, I was brought back to filling out the application and the interview. My trip down memory lane ended with the day that I found out I would be attending the field school. I was so excited that I woke up my roommates on a morning where they did not have class. It was so strange to envision the steps that had brought me to this place.
From my acceptance to our meetings, it feels like the process leading up to field school happened last month and not six months ago. So much time has passed and yet at the same time it feels like none has passed at all. Walking around the site to take pictures was a good time to reflect on my time at Vindolanda. From the North Field to the East Ditch to the Vicus, I was able to participate in three very different excavations. Each allowed me to learn different sets of skills when excavating. In the two excavation periods in which we participated, I was able to meet people from all over the world and I hope to keep in contact with some of them for a long time to come. I am incredibly thankful to Beth, Alex, Andy, Penny, and Marta for allowing the Vindolanda Field School to run and for running it so successfully. They were the people that we went to with our incessant questions. How they answered them so calmly and patiently is beyond me but I am so grateful for them, and what they were able to teach me in a short five weeks.
While today I had to say goodbye to the site of Vindolanda and the people that I met there, I know it will not be goodbye for long. I will be back at Vindolanda one day. Going as a visitor would be nice but I am determined to go back as a volunteer excavator. Waking up on Monday morning is going to be such a strange feeling because it will be the first time in four weeks that I will not wake up early and get ready for an excavation. It will be a sad feeling but I know that I have many more archaeological adventures ahead of me. The Vindolanda Field School was only the first step in what I consider to be the most amazing career ever!