Geophizzzz

MBetz
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MBetz
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Joined: November 2nd, 2006, 11:10 am

November 7th, 2006, 11:32 pm #1

Has there been any geophysics done of the land surrounding Vindolanda? I know the Trust has purchased land at different times. Was the land bought based on magnetometry or GPR studies or was it more because the local landowners were willing to sell to the Trust? I imagine the local landowners may be hesitant to let a bunch of archaeologists onto their land and do any sort of research with the fear being that the government or such may deem the property a heritage site and force them to sell or not use the land. Is there a plan in the works to purchase more land for the Trust or is there enough land to keep the archaeology rolling for years to come?
A quick sidebar: Anyone know where to find some good reading on the past archaeology done on the Stanegate?
Thanks
Matt
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SacoHarry
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Joined: August 22nd, 2006, 9:29 pm

November 10th, 2006, 3:26 am #2

Hey Matt. Back in June, Justin talked a bit about the geophys done up and down the Stanegate. Alas, I've forgotten most of the details! But the gist was that there are anomalies for literally hundreds of meters to the west of the current Trust property. Things like cemeteries, factories, etc.

A big theme the guys seemed to be noodling this year was the idea of a truly sprawling landscape on a scale not really fathomed before. Almost like modern suburban sprawl, stretching from fort to fort. I'm kind of excited myself to hear more about this. (No pressure Andy, Justin, et al :^)

As for books, I've got the 11th edition of J. Collingwood Bruce's "The Roman Wall," printed in 1957. While many (most?) of its conclusions are dismissed now, it does give a great account of lots of obscure digs and little-known sites along the Wall, including lots on the Stanegate. Kind of fun to read anyway.

- Harry
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MBetz
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MBetz
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November 10th, 2006, 11:12 am #3

Thanks Harry. I'll check into Bruce's book. I agree that there must be so much more to discover in the landscape around Vindolanda. Being a working fort and outpost for as long as it was there must be farmsteads and workshops and all sorts of structures dotting the landscape.
Matt
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Andy
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Andy
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Joined: September 11th, 2006, 2:15 pm

November 13th, 2006, 2:56 pm #4

Hi Matt, Harry,

We have done Magnetometer surveys in the field to the north of the site, across the Stanegate road, which has show that the settlement in the 3rd/4th century does cross the road to the north. There are signs of possible mausoleums beside the road, and lots of pits. The field was drained in the 1830's and this work was paused when Roman boots and shoes were recovered from a depth of 5 feet. It is unlikely that the geophysical survey caught any of the buildings/landscape associated with such deep layers so the field remains somewhat of a mystery. The Vindolanda Trust purchased the land based on the Hedley description of the remains more than the geophis, although this has been useful. I remain deeply concerned at the way in which geophysics is being used in the UK as a be all and end all tool for scheduling and other such activities, and to be honest, here my sympathy is firmly with the farmers. Until you actually go in to the field and test the results to work out what they really do mean, it remains somewhat a shot in the dark as to how to intemperate features. Farmers always feel they get the rough end of the stick in such circumstances, and sadly, in most cases they do.

Bearing this in mind, we would like to run some test trenches through this field during the next major phase of the excavations (although we will not be running a major excavation in this area until we know what we are dealing with). I personally want to find the Ancient line of the Stanegate road, and get its true course planned in (basic stuff really, but we need to do this in the future). We will be working on planning the next phase this summer, but are looking at a session of work that would stretch from 2008 to 2013, so it takes a great deal of planning and pen pushing. Two major areas have been considered by the Vindolanda research committee, one a quadrant of the fort, the second, a large extramural area (the bit outside the walls). A formal announcement will follow on the decision they make about the future direction of research at Vindolanda. Any work that is undertaken will of course be subject to being able to obtain an SMC, scheduled monument consent, to do the work.

Otherwise, Justin has done some surveys at the western end of the site with the guys from Piddington Roman Villa using a magnetometer. The results aren’t great to be honest. The ground conditions at Vindolanda sometimes make things a little tricky. No work like this has been done inside the fort, not worth it. We have stone buildings, stone roads and stone floors filled with rubble, so you won’t get any results worth speaking of.

Hope this is helpful,

Best,

Andy
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Last edited by Andy on November 13th, 2006, 2:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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MBetz
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MBetz
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November 14th, 2006, 11:27 am #5

Great stuff Andy. I have wondered how accurate the Ordnance Maps are when they say Stanegate with the dashed lines. It would be very interesting to know the exact course for as much as can be discovered with as little obtrusiveness to the farmers. I have thought that there must be indigenous sites all along or near the Stanegate. Discovery and excavation of some of those sites may help in discerning the exact nature of the roundhouses discovered within the fort platform at Vindolanda (building style, material types, etc.). To get a very tight picture of the Stanegate from Vindolanda west to Carvoran and its intersection with the Maiden Way is a project I would love to be a part of. Also the "missing" fort between Vindolanda and Corbridge would be a great sleuthing exercise!

Matt
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