Hi Matt, lots and lots of question in this one. I'll do my best.
1. Date for the camp bisected by the stanegate? No, although it could easily be pre or post stanegate. Why? The main road could have gone right through the middle. Also worth considering is that this may be more than a camp, something a little more permanent. Until some excavation is timetabled for this area we simply will not know.
2. The road path. Well, the situation of Vindolanda is strange from a purely defensive perspective, mostly as Barcombe hill overlooks the site, as do the hills to the north and west, and lets face it, there is a hill to the south which partially blocks the view of the Tyne valley below as well. However, from a logistical perspective, it is an excellent location. More important than the road (which never went directly though the fort, but always passed it to the north) is the fresh water supply, the mineral wealth of the surrounding hillsides, coal, iron, lead, and of course clay and lime stone. Added to this the land to expand which is to the west, and you have a pretty good location. To compensate for the military issues they place the signal towers on Barcombe Hill, which gives that extra view and links the fort into the frontier system. Logistically, most forts probably faced either east west (to their extramural areas and supply) or north to the main road. There is not much to suggest the presence of a road before the Romans arrived. Infact the debate recently has been 'did the early forts have a road at all?'
Tumuli there are plenty of them, most have been holed by antiquarian excavators or farmers, and some are disputed in origin as either archaeological features or post glacial features. Iron age bods do not seem to want to bother with them in this area, so we are somewhat non the wiser.
Ploughing not much in this area. Although last year I did notice ploughing going on at Great Chesters in the field to the south of the fort. This may be breaking the law, it would be if the land has been scheduled, as ploughing is generally forbidden on such land. But most land around here is pasture, no crops, so not much point in field walking, unless you want to kick over mole hills (which is always fun, and I have uncovered bits of pottery that way before).
Last edited by Andy
on 9:23 AM - Jan 10, 2007, edited 1 time in total.