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Silver phalera depicting Medusa among new finds at Roman Vindolanda

Volunteer archaeologists excavating at Roman Vindolanda have uncovered a silver phalera depicting Medusa during this seasons excavations.

Vindolanda (translated as “white field” or “white moor”) was a Roman auxiliary fort, situated on the fringes of the Roman Empire near Hadrian’s Wall to guard a major highway called the Stanegate.

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No less than nine Roman forts were built of timber or stone at Vindolanda from around AD 85 to 370, creating one of the most complex archaeological sites in Britain and a unique cultural legacy of frontier life.

Today, Vindolanda is an ongoing active archaeological site, with previous excavations uncovering thousands of perfectly preserved shoes, textiles, wooden objects, and the Vindolanda tablets (the oldest surviving documents in Britain that date from the 1st and 2nd century AD).

Image Credit : The Vindolanda Trust (Copyright)

Recent excavations focusing on the floor of a barracks building have uncovered a silver phalera disk normally worn on the breastplate by Roman soldiers during parades. The disk features the head of Medusa, one of the three monstrous Gorgons from Greek mythology, who is shown with her venomous snake hair and piercing eyes that turn onlookers to stone.

Volunteer archaeologists have also found evidence of military life in the Roman fort during this seasons excavations. Finds include a lance head, a spear head, a mall copper alloy spoon, a stamped mortarium rim, Samian pottery, a melon bead, an enamelled bow brooch, a copper alloy scabbard chape (the protective fitting at the bottom of a scabbard or sheath for a dagger), and a well preserved wooden bath clog.

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The discoveries are currently being preserved in the Vindolanda lab, with the silver phalera forming part of the 2024 current finds exhibition at Vindolanda.

The Vindolanda Trust

Header Image Credit : The Vindolanda Trust (Copyright)

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Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.
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