Thursday, May 8, 2014

Vindolanda 2014 Day Four

I spent much of the day chasing archeological features that most would not consider to be of general interest.  (Although marvelously I did have a small bronze coin tumble out with my last trowel scrape of the day!).  So I had plenty of time for musing.  It helps make the wheel barrow runs less tedious.

Today, prompted by an odd event early on, I was thinking about things overhead.

Archeologically speaking, we know a lot about the things underfoot.  Solid, basic stuff like foundations.  Flashier stuff like mosaic floors.  Even ephemeral stuff that we would consider the equivalent of carpeting but that topic is one I hope to address another day.

But what about the things over head?  What were roofs made of in Roman forts and civilian settlements?  It is not an easy question as there seem to be multiple solutions to the age old problem of keeping the weather out.

We associate Roman buildings with reddish orange tiles.  And we do find them even at a site like Vindolanda which is almost as far from the Mediteranean world as the Romans ever got.

Here are a bunch of beat up examples outside the pot washing shed.

The other day I dug up an odd ball specimen, one that was an off color.  I understand that this was an "over kilned" specimen that was probably a reject.

Another option was slate.  Thin slabs were used, with a hole drilled in for a nail.  These roofs must have been darned heavy !

During the Roman era and of course into sub Roman times, thatched roofs were in use.  Heck, on our walk in to the site we go past a cottage that still has one.

Oh, and on our walk in today.  We heard a high pitched whining noise that seemed to be moving quickly.  Glimpsing up we saw this, which seemed to be hovering over one of my digging compatriots who was, I think, answering a call of nature.

It was a camera carrying drone !  It was being operated by a film crew who was doing a documentary on the Vindolanda fort.  Welcome to the 21st century...Drones and Old Stones.

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