TRACamp 2018

This two-day TRAC Workshop aimed to promote the use of experimental archaeology for the development of theoretical approaches within the field of Roman archaeology.  The event was held at the Roman fort of Vindolanda on Roman Britain’s northern frontier and took place on September 22nd and 23rd, 2018. In total 38 delegates attended the workshop including established academics, early career researchers, PhD students, amateur enthusiasts, and skilled professionals. The first day of the workshop was devoted to the presentation of academic papers (in a single session format) that discussed the use of archaeological experiments and the value of their impact on theoretical frameworks within Roman studies. On the second day delegates and the general public observed and took part in demonstrations and hands-on experiments carried out on the site.  These included watching the firing of ceramics in a replica Roman kiln, examining and trying on replica Roman clothing, tasting recreated fish sauces and other delicacies from the Roman kitchen, tutorials on fishnet making, and handling 3D reconstructions of Roman weapons and musical instruments. This ‘open day’ was designed to further promote the significance of experimental archaeology for archaeological research, as well as encourage visitors to engage with the practicalities of production and consumption in the Roman period.


Workshop Programme: 

Day 1: Saturday, September 22nd

9:30 Registration and Coffee

10:00 Welcome and Introduction

10:10 Session One: Theorise, Reconstruct and Test. Processes in Roman Experimental Archaeology

Ellen Swift (University of Kent) and Jo Stoner (University of Kent) Recreating Roman and Late Antique Musical Instruments: An Experimental Approach

Tatiana Ivleva (Newcastle and Leiden Universities) – An Academic Versus a Craftsperson: A Story of Ups and Downs in Making Replicas of Romano-British Glass Bangles

Graham Taylor (Independent Researcher) At the Potter’s Convenience: Simplification of Process in Roman Pottery Production

11:30-12:00 Tea and Coffee

12:00 Session Two: Virtual Projects, Reconstructions, or Experiments? Roman Archaeology of the Future

Rhys Williams (Teesside University) 3D Investigation of Ox Crania Used for Target Practice at Vindolanda

Roberta Ferrito (University of Reading) Analysing Roman Marine Fishponds in a Digital World

Lucia Michielin (University of Edinburgh) Shedding Light in Roman Houses: Using 3D Reconstructions to Analyse the Use of Natural Light

13:00-14:00 Lunch

14:00 Session Three: General Session

Sally Grainger (Independent Researcher) Ancient Fish Sauce at the Roman Table

Lee Graña (University of Reading) The Essential Role of Experimental Archaeology in Understanding Roman Fishing Techniques

Heather Hopkins (Independent Researcher) The Diverse Role of Experiments in Reconstructing Dying

Caitlin Lobl (University College Dublin) – Bringing Light to Roman Colchester: Experiments Testing the Life-Cycle of Roman Oil Lamps

15:30 Discussion: Difficulties, Successes, and the Future of Experimental Archaeology in Roman Studies

16:00-17:00 Visit to Vindolanda Museum (demonstrators preliminary set-up)

17:15 Guided tour of recent excavations by Andrew Birley and Marta Alberti (Vindolanda Trust)

18:00 Bus pick-up for dinner at Twice Brewed Inn


Day 2: Sunday, September 23rd

10:00-16:00 Demonstrations and Hands-On Experiments

Garden Tent:

Mark Hatch and Jill Hatch(Roman Military Research Society) ‘Tastes of History’: Experiments and Recreations of Roman Recipes(with an opportunity to sample)

Sally Grainger (Independent Researcher) – Ancient Fish Sauce at the Roman Table (with an opportunity to sample)

Vindolanda Museum:

Rhys Williams (Teesside University) 3D investigation of Ox Crania Used for Target Practice at Vindolanda (hands on – replicas and video)

Tatiana Ivleva (Newcastle and Leiden Universities) – Strictly for Women? Who Could Wear Romano-British Glass Bangles and How? (hands on – replicas and demonstrations)

13:00 Lunch

The Croft:

Faith Pennick Morgan (Independent Researcher) Clothing of the Late Roman Period (hands on – replicas and demonstrations)

Michael F. Gasparro (Independent Researcher) – Roman Hairstyling in the 1st Century AD (hands on – replicas and demonstrations – models welcome)

Outside area:

Graham Taylor (Independent Researcher) Pottery Firing Using the Vindolanda Roman Kiln(replicas will be produced and sold)

Ellen Swift and Jo Stoner (University of Kent) Using Recreated Roman and Late Antique Musical Instruments (hands on – replicas and demonstrations)

Lee Graña (University of Reading) The Various Materials Used in the Production of Roman Nets (hands on practice with net production)

16:00 End of Demonstrations



Due to the generous contributions of the Council for British Archaeology (Mick Aston Fund) and the Vindolanda Trust multiple bursaries were available to help delegates cover their travel and accommodation for this two-day TRAC Workshop.


Workshop Organisers:

Lee A. Graña (

Matthew J. Mandich (


TRAC is the organisation behind the annual Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference, TRAC Workshops, TRAC Proceedings (1991-2016), the TRAC Themes in Roman Archaeology book series, and the Theoretical Roman Archaeology Journal (TRAJ). This site is maintained by the TRAC Standing Committee. Contact us for further details or inquiries.

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