Western Classical Studies students unearth Roman history at Vindolanda

For the next six weeks, Greene and Meyer will lead students in an archaeological dig at Western’s Field School at Vindolanda – the only field school at the site.

 May 30, 2013

 May 30, 2013

London, Canada & Northumberland, England – Western University researchers Elizabeth Greene and Alexander Meyer along with nine students from Western’s Classical Studies program arrived in Northumberland, England this week.

For the next six weeks, Greene and Meyer will lead these students in an archaeological dig at Western’s Field School at Vindolanda – the only field school at the site. A 3rd century Roman fort, the Vindolanda site is located one mile south of Hadrian’s Wall in Northern England. Vindolanda is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its great importance in the history of this region and the Roman world in general.

Western’s Field School at Vindolanda was developed over the last decade as Greene, a Roman archeologist, and Meyer, a Roman historian, acted as supervisors for the excavations and volunteer program at the fort. It aims to give students training in two aspects of archaeological inquiry: the techniques of field excavation and the archaeology and history of Roman Britain. It brings together archaeological and historical approaches to the subject of Roman Britain and frontier studies in order to investigate issues such as provincial life, Roman imperialism and identity in antiquity.

“The Vindolanda Field School provides an opportunity for Western students of Classics and Archaeology to gain first-hand experience with the material culture of the Roman world and archaeological technique,” said Elizabeth Green. “This is their opportunity to get out of the classroom and experience this unique site in England where amazing finds have been discovered such as Roman leather shoes, wooden writing tablets and many other Roman artefacts.”

In May 2012, Greene and Meyer brought the first group of Western students to Vindolanda for hands-on archaeological excavations, and Western remains the only North American university to participate in this experience through an established field school.

This year’s group of students are maintaining a daily blog of their excavations, field trips around Hadrian’s Wall and the north of Britain, and their thoughts and perspectives on what life was like on the frontier of the Roman Empire.



To arrange an interview with Elizabeth Greene or to learn more about this program, please contact:
Stephen Ledgley, Senior Media Relations Officer, Western University, 519-661-2111 ext. 85283, 
The Roman fort at Vindolanda is the home of the Vindolanda writing tablets, extraordinary ink-on-wood documents that have preserved first-hand accounts of the inhabitants of the fort through personal correspondences, official military documents and inventory lists pertaining to the site’s soldiers and civilians. The wooden tablets have been preserved as a result of anaerobic conditions caused by the construction of at least nine consecutive periods of Roman occupation on the site.  Vindolanda has also produced the world’s largest assemblage of Roman leather goods and countless unique artifacts including textiles and a Roman helmet crest. Since 1970, excavations at Vindolanda have been conducted under the auspices of the Vindolanda Trust, a registered charitable organization that employs a staff of archaeologists, conservationists and curators, and administers two museums as well as the archaeological site itself.  
As one of the largest and most respected Departments of Classical Studies in Canada, the Department of Classical Studies at Western plays a leading role in nurturing the discipline across the country. Faculty and students interact regularly with the international community of Classicists through conferences, speaking engagements, publications and fieldwork.

Latest Media Coverage