This page contains descriptions of photographs of Vindolanda. Listed
below are links to the descriptions.
Late Roman tombs
Only the foundations survive of two substantial late Roman tombs
on the western edge of the site. No bones survived because of the
acid soils. In the better-preserved monument, the body would have
been placed in the chamber of stone slabs, or cist, set within the
inner wall. Like the cemeteries at Vindolanda north of the Stanegate,
these monuments were erected outside the settlement area, since
the dead were thought to pollute the living.
Romano-Celtic temple and mausoleum
The temple is of the 'Romano-Celtic' type, comprising an inner
chamber (cella) surrounded by an enclosed walkway (ambulatory).
It is one of the few features dated to pre-Hadrianic Vindolanda
on display. All of the cella is revealed in this photo, but only
a small part of the ambulatory wall. Such temples are well known
in southern Britain but not on the northern frontier. An altar was
found in the temple, but the name of the deity worshipped there
cannot be read. After the demolition of the temple in the mid-second
century the site was used as a burial ground. The base of an amphora,
which had been used as an urn for a cremation, can be seen in the
centre of the building.
Pre-Hadrianic bath house
This bathhouse served the pre-Hadrianic fort and its erection is
probably referred to in a tablet. It sits on the south-eastern margin
of the site, on the edge of the steep slope leading to the stream.
The boulder clay here was cut back to allow for the foundations
to be inserted. Unlike the other early fort buildings it was constructed
of brick and tile, although most of the building materials were
removed when the baths were demolished in the second century. The
photograph shows the foundations of the hot-room (caldarium)
and warm room (tepidarium). The brick pillars (pilae)
supported the floor of the bathhouse and allowed the hot air to
This milestone stands in its original position, immediately east
of Vindolanda on the Stanegate. This is the medieval name for the
Roman road built by Agricola and his successors, linking frontier
towns and forts from Corbridge to Carlisle. In some places modern
minor roads still run along its line, at Vindolanda as elsewhere
the road runs only as a farm track or path. This milestone was not
inscribed but would perhaps have borne a painted inscription, indicating
the distance from Corbridge, like other milestones along the Stanegate,
and the name of the reigning emperor, as a reminder of imperial
power on the fringes of empire.
View of fort from vicus
The photo looks east along the road through the vicus, the civilian
settlement outside the fort. To left and right are the foundations
of late Roman stone buildings. These strip buildings probably served
as shops, dwellings and workshops. Deeply stratified beneath these
stone buildings are the waterlogged remains of the earliest forts.
The west gate of the fort, one of the two main gates, has a guard
chamber on either side. The foundations of the late Roman HQ (praetorium)
are exposed in the fort. Beyond is Barcombe Hill, on top of which
is a Roman signal tower.
The main excavation area for the timber forts at Vindolanda
In this narrow strip between the west wall of the stone fort, here
still not yet exposed, and the buildings of the vicus, is a narrow
strip within which the principal excavations of the pre-Hadrianic
fort have taken place. The photo looks north along the excavated
area. The remains of the earliest fort are stratified three to four
metres beneath the grass. The size of the accessible area, hemmed
in by well-preserved stone walls which must be left for display,
makes excavation very difficult.
The late Roman principia at Vindolanda
The principia was the garrison headquarters. The visible
remains date to the fourth century AD. The row of rooms nearest
the viewer served as offices, treasury and shrine for the regimental
standards. In the cross-hall beyond, the men could muster to be
addressed by the garrison commander, standing on the plinth or tribunal
visible at the end by the stair rail. The courtyard beyond is small,
surrounded by rooms and offices.
The late Roman praetorium at Vindolanda
The visible remains of the garrison commander's residence (praetorium)
date to the fourth century AD. The residence consisted of a range
of rooms laid out around a central courtyard. The stone pillars
of a heating system are visible on the left of the picture. A later
post-Roman building extends into the courtyard space, possibly a
church, to judge from the apse and the west-east orientation. The
eastern ditch of the pre-Hadrianic forts probably ran beneath the
Unique to Vindolanda is the presence of circular huts within the
area of the fort, dated to the early third century AD and separating
two phases of military occupation. Groups of huts have been found
here on the northern edge of the fort, in the centre and in the
southwest corner. If they filled the whole area, they would have
numbered several hundred. The few finds from the huts indicate domestic
occupation. They are unlike any other type of building found in
forts, but similar to the houses of the local indigenous population.
They were perhaps homes for prisoners, hostages or for new local
recruits to the army, but remain difficult to explain.
The east gate
Despite damage inflicted by stone-robbers, the walls of Vindolanda
still survive to an impressive height, in places to several metres.
The masonry facing encloses a mortared rubble core. This east gate
and the south gate were small and lacked guard chambers, perhaps
serving as pedestrian gates only. A flight of stone steps led away
from the east gate, rather than a road.
The home of the garrison commander in the Severan period
At the western end of the vicus is a well-constructed masonry building
arranged around a narrow courtyard. Once thought to be a mansio,
or inn for travellers, the building is now interpreted as the home
of the garrison commander in the early third century, albeit of
an unusual layout (compare the praetorium in the fort itself).
In the foreground is the bathhouse, the missing flagstones exposing
the hypocaust pillars beneath of the hot room. In the background
is the courtyard and ranges of rooms on either side of it.