So what else can we learn from Vindolanda, by Hadrian’s wall? When the archaeologists working on the dig worked through the site floor, they found the remains of timber walls and floor (remember, preserved by the concrete floor laid later on) about 3.5 metres down, then eight rooms, with stables for horses, living accommodation, with fireplaces and ovens.
It turned out that the base was larger than first expected, it certainly was able to have provided for 1000 + soldiers, and probably thousands more residents, including plenty of slaves. And the stables for horses – the archaeologists found copper alloy cavalry fitments for the horses, made for the saddles and harnesses. They were found, like most of the rest of the site, in incredible condition, so that the links were still in place, still shining and free of corrosion.
Most of the pottery found on the site was covered in graffiti, some of which are scribbled notes by soldiers who clearly were a little bored one afternoon. More insights to the lives of the soldiers on the sites was given in the form of the famous Vindolanda tablets, discovered in 1973. They gave names, characters and thoughts of an ordinary soldier, all of which really open up the life of the author who never intended for anyone to read it. There are mentions of families, ceremonies and letter to keep and letters to write. There were the names of other people on the site ‘Genialis,’ ‘Lepidina’ and names of places, like ‘Coria’. Some military terms were used, and also a whole lot of very normal subjects, such as speaking about how the kitchen utensils needed changing!
The whole thing about these tablets is that they give a way of seeing life as it was back in the times of Hadrian’s wall. Frankly, it’s the closest we are likely to get to time-travel any time soon!
Until next time, stay curious!