The Birley family have toiled for 60 years to unearth Roman artefacts at Vindolanda Roman Fort in Northumbria, says Juliet Rix.
In a picturesque Northumbrian valley a mile south of Hadrian's Wall, Andrew Birley stands surrounded by a checkerboard of Roman remains. He is supervising a small crowd of volunteer excavators unearthing a 1,600-year-old flagstone road. They have just dug up a small stone altar with a potentially interesting inscription. Andrew is the third generation of his family to run the excavations here at Vindolanda Roman Fort. It's an unusual family business.
"I tried to put my children off," says Dr Robin Birley, 75, Andrew's father and head of research at Vindolanda. "But one of them didn't listen." Robin is sitting outside the site museum with his wife, Patricia, (Andrew's mother), director of the Vindolanda Trust and curator of the museum, and younger brother, Prof Anthony Birley (Tony),
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