A Mile In Roman Shoes

You cannot possibly visit the North East of England without stumbling over a bit of Hadrian’s Wall. It’s true magnificence long since dwindled this memory of our Roman forefathers stands proud, in places, defiant in its endurance of time. Living in Durham for over ten years means I have visited a lot of the sites along the wall, however I had not visited Vindolanda. What a treat was in store for us.

The courtyard that acts as an entrance to the site is beautiful in itself with a fountain and gently flowing water to relax the weary traveller.

Walk through the courtyard and you can see the site laid out before you in the distance.

Vindolanda - the walk down to the site

Vindolanda wasn’t abandoned until the 9th century and was thought to be occupied by the Roman army  for about 400 years. It was built before the wall by the army themselves and encompasses a village. The tavern in the centre of the site is the size of almost three house showing it isn’t just modern-day England that loves a good pint.

The village houses

The village houses

Owned by an independent charitable trust the most wonderful thing about Vindolanda is that it’s constantly evolving. New finds are recovered ever week as fresh excavations begin. The peat heavy soil in the area means many of the finds are well-preserved and

In the museum you will find some of the artefacts from the digs that have taken place on the site. There is the most fascinating array of Roman shoes showing the diversity of the community that lived at Vindolanda as well as a headdress for a horse, which has allowed the museum to create a wonderful replica. In addition you will find what is referred to as Gladiator Glass which is a beautifully painted piece of glass thought to have been imported from the Rhineland.

Roman shoes found on the site

Roman shoes found on the site

The most famous finds are the Vindolanda tablets. Small, thin pieces of perfectly preserved wood that show hold the letters of those who lived in Vindolanda. Some are bills, others of legal import and some are letters to loved ones. They are truly fascinating. The low lighting means the photo is not the best quality but you can see just how small these precious artefacts are.

Vindolanda - tablets

Beany had great fun exploring the ruins although there’s lots uneven ground so we had to keep a fairly close eye on her. The cafe has delicious food and the staff are very pleasant and friendly. Vindolanda is a fascinating place to visit and full of links to our past. There are plenty of other sites close by too if you’d like to see more of the wall and we stopped at Steel Rigg on the way back to show Beany the ancient remains.

Hadrians Wall - Beany

Hadrians Wall - Steel Rigg

There’s a phrase that’s quoted in our family when someone’s complaining about the past – ‘What have the Romans ever done for us?’ It comes for a Monty Python film and the irony is clear. This is never more evident than in Vindolanda. We need only walk in the shoes of a Roman for mile to see where some of our, what we consider to be modern, traditions and beliefs come from.

Vindolanda - exploring

Vindolanda gets 5/5 from us:


Have you visited Hadrian’s Wall or the ruins along it? We’d love to know if you have so don’t forget to let us know below.


7 thoughts on “A Mile In Roman Shoes

  1. Margot Kinberg says:

    Oh, what a lovely visit!! And it looks as though you had decent weather for it, too, which is all the better. Thanks, too, for the fascinating information. Beany’s lucky to have had the chance to see the wall, even if she doesn’t quite remember. To me, that sets the stage for a whole lifetime of learning and of fascination with the world. Can’t beat that!

    Liked by 1 person

    • writerdsnelson says:

      She’s certainly fascinated with the world Margot and I told her all about the Romans and their beliefs and what they did as we went round. She took it all in of course 😉 As for the info, you’re very welcome and this is really very superficial stuff. The amount there is to learn in these places is mindblowing! We’ll be back!

      Liked by 1 person

    • writerdsnelson says:

      Indeed … and thanks for stopping by Colin 🙂 I lived in Durham for just over ten years, from the age of nine until university. I have fond memories and we don’t visit nearly enough but whenever we do, a trip to the wall is a must! I can see Vindolanda becoming a family favourite.

      Liked by 1 person

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