Archaeological fieldwork at the ancient Roman Vindolanda fort on Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland, United Kingdom, lead to numerous Roman finds, among which are wooden toy swords, golden items, and two extremely rare cavalry swords.
The excavations at the site are being carried out in the area of a Roman cavalry barrack. Archaeologists have found a sword with a bent tip in the corner of a living room of the barrack. Later, a second sword, but without a wooden handle, pommel or scabbard but with the blade and tang intact, was found in a neighbouring room. Archaeologists believe that the first sword was abandoned because it was damaged, while the other might have been left in a hurry.
In another room two small wooden swords – one with a gemstone decorating its pommel – which were clearly made as toys for the cavalry children, were discovered. Other items found in the barracks’ floor included bath clogs, leather shoes, knives, brooches, combs, stylus pens, bone dice, hairpins, arrowheads and ballista bolts. Excavating about 3.5 metres down, archaeologists found the earlier barrack’s original timber walls and floors, fences, ovens and fireplaces.
All the finds are believed to date from about 120 AD when the fort was thought to be home to about 1000 people. The barrack dates from 105 AD. It lies beneath the 4th-century stone Roman fort. Archaeologists state that the artefacts are extremely well preserved, possibly due to being beneath a concrete floor laid by the Romans about 30 years after the barrack was abandoned, shortly before 120 AD. Successive barracks were constructed above it.
(after Vindolanda Trust, Sonya Galloway, The Guardian, Daily Mail Online & BBC News)