- ChesterholmVindolanda

Commanding Officer’s House with later Church
Commanding Officer’s
House with later church
showing apse

A magnificent site awaits the visitor to this fort. Excavations are ongoing and it has recently been said that they could even go on for at least another 150 years. So far excavations have yielded some extraordinary objects and there is no reason to doubt that more will follow in the near or distant future. Of course, the most famous objects found, voted Britain’s top treasure in 2003, are the Vindolanda Tablets. To date, over 400 tablets have been found across the site with more to come no doubt. They are made from thinly cut slivers of wood and are between 1 and 3mm thick and measure, roughly, the size a postcard. The writer would use ink and when the letter was completed it was folded and the address would be written on the back. If longer letters were required several of the tablets would be tied together after holes were punched in the top corners of each.

One of the original forts on the Stanegate, Vindolanda, was built on a plateau on which three of the sides are naturally protected. The fort is known to have been built at least six times, four times of timber and twice in stone, the latter being built c300 AD. It is these remains that we see today. The site covers 3.5 acres and only the Headquarters Building is visible within the fort grounds.

It is the civilian settlements that have given us the remarkable finds we have today. Two settlements have been discovered; the first was built in 163 AD but abandoned in the mid third century. The second was built a few decades later and survived in use up to the end of the fourth century though was of lesser quality than the first. Because the ground here is so waterlogged it is this factor that has preserved the finds like leather shoes, textiles and, of course, the Tablets.

Gladiator scene painted on glass
Gladiator scene
painted on glass

Within the civilian settlement a military bath house, a mansio and corridor house were found. The mansio was an inn for travellers and being on the Stanegate was very important. The corridor house is the largest civilian building discovered anywhere as yet.

Garrisons known at on StreetMap Streetmap Logo link to OS map

Hadrianno evidence
Marcus_Aureliuscohors II Nerviorum civium Romanarum ?
3rd_Centurycohors IV Gallorum equitata (213) †
Notitia_Dignitatumcohors IV Gallorum †
1st_NoteThe inscription of cohors II Nerviorum is discounted in RIB 1683 as evidence for the unit’s being at Vindolanda, but it is no better and no worse than other evidence and the alternative explanation in RIB is unsatisfactory.