Road Trip 15 Vindolanda
Have a sit down.
Listen to the fountain, and let me take you back in time to Roman Britain.
At the time when Hadrian’s Wall was being manned by peoples from all over the Roman Empire. The wooden forts were rather like the ones you think of in the Wild West. They were replaced by the stone ones.
The ones above are reconstructions.
Click to read.
Have the above scene in your head when you look at the picture below.
Roman soldiers weren’t really meant to marry but it didn’t stop them from having a chosen woman or a family outside the legionary fort. They and their unofficial families of course needed things so whenever a fort moved, they moved too and created a vicus outside the new site.
Click to read.
The gate to the fort.
Cattle like this chap, sheep, horses, donkeys and the fodder to feed them, as well as food for the troops all had to be accommodated.
The round houses below were an unusual thing to find in a fort. They were a bit like Tescos where there is a set design for the site, and each building was given the same place within the structure, regardless of where you were in the Roman Empire.
It meant that whenever a soldier entered a fort, he would know where to put his horse, or report to the man in charge.
Pic above shows the fort walls. Vindolanda is a bit special because they found lead tablets in the ditch between the fort and vicus.
Carefully Roman scholars have unrolled the tablets and translated them. You can read them for yourself here. They are an unprecedented way of seeing Roman life in Britain from ordinary people.
Boards went across these stone foundations so there was always a supply of air to prevent the grain from going bad.
Click to read and see what the buildings looked like within the fort.
You can still see the decorative detail on this slab of stone.
Look how carefully it was shaped to slot in. Mortar would probably been added.
A necessity for a fort was a bath house (as all females know!)
This one was built into the hillside outside the fort by a few metres.
It is amazing how much has survived of the various rooms.
We’ll go into the reconstructed stone tower now.
Any Scots coming?
The top was used as a look out post.
The wall would be patrolled.
You can see most of the site from here. There is a mausoleum in the foreground.
The vicus is in the background.
And further to your right is the fort.
Downstairs was where soldiers would sleep huddled near a brazier for warmth in the long Winters far away from their homes. The Romans had a policy of conquering a territory and then making many of the men into soldiers in far flung places so they couldn’t stage a rebellion at home.
There is a museum down the steep hill from the fort. I hope some day some of you will visit. I more or less catalogued the site with photos, so you are only seeing a little of it.
But for now we say goodbye to Northumbria
on a straight Roman road which would put modern roads to shame.
Posted in Travels by House Elf with 8 comments.