Robin Birley (archaeologist)

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Robin Birley
Born (1935-01-19) 19 January 1935 (age 83)

Robin Edgar Birley (born 19 January 1935) is a British archaeologist. He was formerly the Director of Excavations at the Roman site of Vindolanda, and now heads the Vindolanda research committee. He is the son of Eric Birley (a scholar of Hadrian's Wall) and brother to Anthony Birley. His wife Patricia Birley and son Andrew Birley are also published authors on Roman Vindolanda.

Education and Work[edit]

Both Birley brothers lived at the site with their father Eric Birley, with Robin starting his first excavation at age 14.[1] He was educated at Clifton College, before spending some years with the Royal Marines before returning to work at Vindolanda and becoming the Director of the Vindolanda Trust. Robin has excavated extensively at the site of Vindolanda and was intimately involved in the discovery of the Vindolanda tablets in 1973[1] and their subsequent interpretation and publication. These are a series of wooden tablets containing handwritten script, which continue to be discovered at the site. For a time this was the oldest known handwritten script in Britain, although the Bloomberg tablets discovered in the 21st century are older. The Vindolanda tablets have been translated from the Latin and have been published in print and online (as texts and images).[2]

He had published extensively on the Vindolanda site as well as appearing in several TV documentaries, including the 2003 BBC production of Our Top Ten Treasures.


  • Hadrian's Wall: Guide to the Central Sector (1972)
  • Civilians on the Roman Frontier (1973)
  • Housesteads (Vircovicium) Roman Fort and Civilian Settlement (1973)
  • Discoveries at Vindolanda (1973)
  • Vindolanda: A Roman Frontier Post on Hadrian's Wall (1979)
  • Garrison Life on the Roman Frontier, Greenhead: Roman Army Museum (1991).
  • The building of Hadrian's Wall (1991)
  • 'Four New Writing-Tablets from Vindolanda' in Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik pp. 431–446 by R and A Birley (1994).
  • The Foot at the Rock: On Hadrian's Wall (1994)
  • The early wooden forts: the excavations of 1973-76 and 1985-89, with some additional details... (1994)
  • Roman Records from Vindolanda on Rome's Northern Frontier, Greenhead: Roman Army Museum (1999)
  • Chesterholm: From a Clergyman's cottage to Vindolanda Museum (2000)
  • Civilians on Rome's Northern Frontier: Families, Friends and Foes (2000)
  • Vindolanda - Extraordinary Records Of Daily Life On The Northern Frontier, Greenhead: Roman Army Museum (2005).
  • Vindolanda: A Roman Frontier Fort on Hadrian's Wall (2012).


  1. ^ a b Rix, Juliet (25 June 2010). "All Roads Lead to Vindolanda". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 March 2014. 
  2. ^ "Vindolanda Tablets Online". Retrieved 22 March 2014. 

External links[edit]