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Step into the past - ancient Roman puts his foot in it

A volunteer archaeologist digging at Vindolanda, the Roman fort on Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland, has unearthed a tile with a human footprint.

Ancient footrpint. Credit: Vindolanda Charitable Trust

The partial print of a right foot has been dated to 160-180 AD.

The volunteer who found the tile was student Mel Benard who is digging at Vindolanda with a Canadian Field School from the University of Western Ontario in Canada.

This was the first artefact that I had found, I knew straight away that it was a footprint and it is so exciting to have discovered something which links you directly to that individual nearly 2000 years later”

– Mel Benard
Mel Benard with footprint. Credit: Vindolanda Charitable Trust

It is not known whether the imprint happened accidentally or whether the person responsible mischievously stood on the freshly made tile.

Praise for Hadrian's Wall volunteers

The volunteers who help make Hadrian's Wall accessible to visitors are being thanked this week. Credit: PA

National Trust volunteers who work along Hadrian's Wall have been thanked for their hard work with a special viewing of some rare work by Northumberland engraver Thomas Bewick.

Thomas Bewick, who was born in Northumberland, helped pioneer print illustrations in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The event is part of National Volunteer Week, which is being marked across the country.

Heather Cook, from the National Trust, praised the "skills" and "passion" that volunteers bring to Hadrian's Wall.


£11.2m visitor centre for Hadrian's Wall given go ahead

South east view showing main visitor entrance Credit: Jane Darbyshire and David Kendall Ltd

Northumberland National Park Authority, YHA (England and Wales) and partners, are celebrating after plans for The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre were officially given the green light.

Plans for the £11.2m centre, which is to replace the existing 1960s Once Brewed facilities with a flagship visitor attraction, training and educational centre, were referred by a third party to be determined by the Secretary of State.

Northumberland National Park Authority Chairman Cllr John Riddle, said: “The long term gains of the project include economic growth and job creation which will offer a step-change benefit for the whole of the North East and then there are the benefits you just cannot put a price on – including the impact the project will have on young people from a training and educational perspective.

The first floor cafe will feature panoramic views Credit: Jane Darbyshire and David Kendall Ltd

Consultation has played a huge part in a participative design process, with over 1,700 members of the public sharing their ideas and feedback.

Stuart Evans, Sill Project Director at Northumberland National Park Authority, said: “As part of the next stage of development, we want to continue this process and invite anyone who would like to contribute to come forward and help us realise the project’s full potential. Working together, we have such a wonderful opportunity through The Sill to compliment and support the excellent tourism offer in our region and open up the landscape to a whole new audience.”

The team now looks to push on to achieve £3m match funding needed as well as submitting its bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the remaining £6.9m, with an outcome expected early 2015.

Aerial view of The Sill Credit: Jane Darbyshire and David Kendall Ltd
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