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Romans were upper crust on daily bread

WHEN it came to their daily bread, troops at a Northumberland Roman fort took no chances.

Andrew Birley, Vindolanda Roman Fort.
Andrew Birley, Vindolanda Roman Fort.

WHEN it came to their daily bread, troops at a Northumberland Roman fort took no chances.

Excavations at Vindolanda are revealing two massive granaries whose quality even outshone the nearby commanding officer’s quarters. The dig is also uncovering a magnificent flagged roadway next to the granaries.

“The masonry of these granaries is far superior to that of the nearby commanding officer’s residence, and although some of the walls have suffered from stone robbing, others are standing to a height of around 5ft,” said director of excavations Andrew Birley. “The magnificent section of superbly flagged Roman roadway is probably now the best example to be seen in the North.”

Samples of material trapped in vents below the flagged floors of the granaries are expected to reveal the nature of the foodstuffs and other goods once stored in the buildings, together with the bones of rodents that attempted to feed upon them.

Patricia Birley, director of the Vindolanda Trust, said: “They would have had to keep considerable amounts of supplies for at least 500 men in the fort.

“But the granaries and roadway are very impressive. It is Roman building at its best.”

Archaeological evidence, including a bronze brooch and strap end, has also confirmed that people were using the granaries as accommodation from the 5th to the 8th Centuries, proving that Vindolanda continued to be occupied long after the end of Roman rule in Britain. Previous digs have uncovered the remains of a 5th Century church on the site.

The Vindolanda 2008 excavations, with a large contingent of volunteers drawn from all over the world, will continue every day until mid-September.

 

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