Sites & cities that bear the name of Vindolanda


Today in : United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
First trace of activity : 85 C.E
Last trace of activity : ca. 5th century C.E
Recorded names : Chesterholm Museum

Description : Vindolanda was a Roman auxiliary fort (castrum) just south of Hadrian's Wall in northern England, which it originally pre-dated. Archaeological excavations of the site show it was under Roman occupation from roughly 85 AD to 370 AD. Located near the modern village of Bardon Mill in Northumberland, it guarded the Stanegate, the Roman road from the River Tyne to the Solway Firth. It is noted for the Vindolanda tablets, a set of wooden leaf-tablets that were, at the time of their discovery, the oldest surviving handwritten documents in Britain. The earliest Roman forts at Vindolanda were built of wood and turf. The remains are now buried as much as 4 metres (13 ft) deep in the anoxic waterlogged soil. There are five timber forts, built (and demolished) one after the other. The first, a small fort, was probably built by the 1st Cohort of Tungrians about 85 AD. By about 95 AD this was replaced by a larger wooden fort built by the 9th Cohort of Batavians, a mixed infantry-cavalry unit of about 1000 men. That fort was repaired in about 100 AD under the command of the Roman prefect Flavius Cerialis. When the 9th Cohort of Batavians left in 105 AD, their fort was demolished. The 1st Cohort of Tungrians returned to Vindolanda, built a larger wooden fort, and remained here until Hadrian's Wall was built around 122 AD, when they moved, most likely to Vercovicium (Housesteads Roman Fort). Stone forts, stone huts Soon after Hadrian's Wall was built, most of its men were moved north to the Antonine Wall. A stone fort was built at Vindolanda, possibly for the 2nd Cohort of Nervians. From 208 to 211 AD, there was a major rebellion against Rome in Britain, and the Emperor Septimius Severus led an army to Britain to cope with it personally. The old stone fort was demolished, and replaced by an unconventional set of army buildings on the west, and an unusual array of many round stone huts where the old fort had been. Some of these circular huts are visible by the north and the southwest walls of the final stone fort. The Roman army may have built these to accommodate families of British farmers in this unsettled period. Septimius Severus died at York in 211 AD; his sons paid off the rebels and left for Rome. The stone buildings were demolished, and a large new stone fort was built where the huts had been, for the 4th Cohort of Gauls. Vicus A vicus, a self-governing village, developed to the west of the fort. The vicus contains several rows of buildings, each containing several one-room chambers. Most are not connected to the existing drainage system. The one that does was perhaps a butchery where, for health reasons, an efficient drain would have been important. A stone altar found in 1914 (and exhibited in the museum) proves that the settlement was officially a vicus, and that it was named Vindolanda. To the south of the fort is a thermae (a large imperial bath complex), that would have been used by many of the individuals on the site. The later stone fort, and the adjoining village, remained in use until about 285 AD, when it was largely abandoned for unknown reasons. 4th century forts About 300 AD, the fort was again rebuilt, but the vicus was not reoccupied, so most likely the area remained too unsafe for life outside the defended walls of the fort. In about 370, the fort was roughly repaired, perhaps by irregular soldiers. There is no evidence for the traditional view that Roman occupation ended suddenly in 410; it may have declined slowly.

See on map ยป