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  • Western students gearing up for their first day at the Vindolanda site

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Vindolanda Field School



This program will be an intense and very rewarding five-week experience for university students each summer. It is designed for motivated students of archaeology, Classics and history with some previous knowledge of the Roman world. No prior excavation experience is required as the archaeology component will provide in-depth field training. Ideally, the participants will be highly motivated individuals who seek a deeper knowledge of the Roman world, field archaeology, and current research tools for understanding the past through history and archaeology.

A primary goal of the field school is for students to gain an appreciation for combining historical and archaeological material to further our understanding of past cultures. The focus of the archaeological component will be the site at Vindolanda and daily participation in all aspects of the project: excavation, survey of buildings and landscape, finds processing (ceramic and bone washing, environmental sampling), and data recording (stratigraphic context sheets, photography, section/plan drawing, etc.). An in-depth understanding of the archaeology at Vindolanda will be supplemented with trips to other sites and visits to active excavations around the north of Britain. The historical component will focus on the history of the Roman period in Britain with particular emphasis on the northern frontier and the role of soldiers and civilians within the province. The historical aspect of training will be achieved through evening lectures, field trips, on-site discussions and student presentations.

For more information please visit the Vindolanda Field School website.

History of Vindolanda

The site of Vindolanda was first inhabited by the Roman army in around AD 85, after the Roman general Agricola consolidated the northern frontier of the province Britannia along what is now called the ‘Stanegate’ road. This border region consisted of small forts manned by auxiliary cohorts (non-citizen units) of the Roman army and a system of signal towers to monitor activity in the newly conquered area. Vindolanda was continually inhabited by the Roman army for over three-hundred years, with only brief periods of abandonment when military units shifted locations. This occupation resulted in a series of at least nine forts and military settlements built on the same site, creating a rich stratigraphic record of Roman settlement on the site. The first five occupation periods, dating from ca. AD 85-130, are all preserved in anaerobic soil conditions (lack of oxygen) and have preserved the timber remains of structures, as well as extraordinary artefacts not typically visible in the archaeological record such as wooden writing tablets and thousands of leather shoes. The remains of the stone forts built and refurbished on the site between ca. AD 150 and 300 show the varying construction techniques used by the military in fort walls, houses, workshops and bathhouses. Occupation continued at Vindolanda even after the Roman army abandoned Britain in ca. AD 410. The last few field seasons have concentrated on the nature of settlement in the 5th and 6th centuries AD, showing that the site was re-organized and occupied by a small group of individuals, who utilized the existing structures and fort spaces in new ways. Part of the current research program of The Vindolanda Trust will now focus on investigations in a field to the north of the site, where Roman settlement seems to have concentrated in the earliest periods of occupation. The Vindolanda Field School will work in this northern area alongside volunteer excavators and professional archaeologists from the Vindolanda team.

Field School

We will accept eight students from the University of Western Ontario for our five week program. The field school aims to give students training in two aspects of archaeological inquiry: the techniques of field excavation and the archaeology and History of Roman Britain. It brings together archaeological and historical approaches to the subject of Roman Britain and frontier studies in order to investigate issues such as provincial life, Roman imperialism and identity in antiquity. Students will participate in daily excavations on the site of Vindolanda, a military fort and settlement on the Roman frontier in Britain, which has had a thriving excavation and research program run by The Vindolanda Trust for over forty years. The Field School group will also take weekly field trips to explore the landscape around Hadrian's Wall and the north of Britain, in order to gain a broad perspective on a frontier and imperial landscape that thrived on the edge of the Roman Empire. To learn more about the research goals of The Vindolanda Trust and its excavation programs, please visit:



Students will receive academic course credit for their participation and, therefore, the academic rigor of the program is high. The archaeology component will be fulfilled through full participation in the weekly excavation schedule, while the majority of the history hours will be met through lectures, roundtable discussions and weekly field trips.

Click Here for 2013 Syllabus

**Please note: The dates and times of various activities may change due to weather and other factors**

Application Form

Completed applications for admission to the field school for 2013 are due in the office of the Classics Department at The University of Western Ontario (Lawson Hall, Room 3205) by 4:00pm on December 15, 2012. All applications should include a cover page, a completed copy of the form provided below, an essay and a C.V. (details enumerated on form).

Review of applications will begin on December 19. Applicants will be informed of the admissions committee's decisions by January 15, 2013 and will have until January 31st, 2013 to inform the Field School of their decision to participate or to decline the offer. There will be meetings held approximately once a month for Field School participants during the Winter 2013 term to plan details for the course and for travel to the UK.

Application Form

Photos of Vindolanda Excavation Site

For more information please visit the Vindolanda Field School website.

Department of Classical Studies - The University of Western Ontario
Lawson Hall Rm 3205
London, Ontario, Canada, N6A 5B8
Tel: 519.661.3045 Fax: 519-850-2388

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