Our last day of digging was uneventful. We cashed out on finds on Thursday, our grand total being 22 Roman writing tablets, the most found in a week (in a day) since 1982. Personally, I contributed 3 writing tablets. One of which being complete and confronting, meaning closed like a book preserving the writing inside. I will anxiously await October, when we have the tablets interpreted and translated.
Our first week at Vindolanda and our second were very different for me. By the end of the first week I was starting to think things like “why does anyone do this?” and “what’s the point of all this if we’re just going to fill in every hole we dig?” But I persisted, and kept a positive and hopeful attitude. In the beginning of the second week I was transferred into anaerobic. This was frustrating because I felt like I was abandoning my weeks worth of previous work. I also was going to be working with material that was very different from what I had been. A lot of the time I looked something like this…
But it soon become very rewarding when I found my first writing tablet. All the questions I had been asking myself were immediately answered and I caught the archaeology bug. One small find is all it takes to get hooked on digging.
Although it may be for a while, this isn’t my last day digging and it isn’t my last day at Vindolanda. Andy Birley (Director of Excavations) shared a few words at the end of the day that will stick with me until I return to the fort. He said “as a volunteer, that building [pointed at the tea shed] is your clubhouse, and the admittance fee is chocolate biscuits.” We all laughed and some may have thought he was joking but I have plans to take him up on the offer.
This evening is our last as a group before we will part ways on separate trains. Everyone is saying this is a bittersweet ending, I see nothing bitter about it. Goodbyes are always hard but these are only temporary goodbyes. In anticipation for the trip, everyone told me that the people of study abroad with will be friends for life because you become a family. I didn’t believe them then but now it’s hard to imagine doing this with anyone else.
My British family. I am so grateful for these people and the opportunities they gave me. I’ll hold this trip and these memories close to me for the rest of my life.