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Wooden World: Hadrian's Wall Roman Time Capsule Gains Lottery Support

Written by: Elmtree Press

Toilet seats and potter’s wheels – rare preserved artefacts of everyday Roman life to be seen by public for the first time

The Vindolanda Trust has gained initial support* for a £1.3m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to secure the future of its internationally significant collection of wooden Roman artefacts and enable the public to see them for the first time.

Best known as the discovery place of Britain’s oldest surviving handwritten documents, Vindolanda’s oxygen-free archaeological makeup has resulted in the preservation of other organic material which usually doesn’t survive the test of time.

As well as examples of leather, textiles and flora, 1,463 wooden objects have been excavated at the site – from water pipes and axles to a toilet seat and potter’s wheels. Alongside the ancient Roman fort, the collection tells the fascinating everyday story of those who lived and worked on the Northern Frontier nearly 2,000 years ago.

The ‘Unlocking Vindolanda’s Wooden Underworld’ project will expand the museum by creating a gallery with special display cases allowing temperature and humidity to be kept at safe levels, enabling more of  the wooden collection to be taken out of storage.

Visitors will also hear the incredible survival story of the collection – from the science behind how they lasted two millennia to their conservation and the research that is uncovering their origins.

Patricia Birley, Chair of the Vindolanda Trust’s Development and Impact Committee, said: “We are thrilled that HLF is offering support to this project that will build a beautiful extension to the museum at Vindolanda. The fit for purpose facility will create a truly inspiring exhibition and activity area to enable a wide range of users to access the Trust’s outstanding collection of wooden objects and the fascinating stories that they reveal about their part in everyday life at Roman Vindolanda”

Ivor Crowther, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) North East, said: “What an incredible collection, its size and scope of wooden Roman artefacts is unrivalled in Britain – but it’s currently hidden away in storage! We’re delighted to support these plans to bring the collection and its fascinating story into the public eye for the first time. We look forward to seeing the plans develop.”

A development grant of £20,400 has been awarded by HLF to enable the Trust to develop the plans and apply for a full grant of £1,339,000 at a later date.

For more information on school trips to Vindolanda visit their main page here