Ancient Romans Had Time for Board Games

The board was likely used in the bath house at Vindolanda, one of 14 forts along Hadrian's Wall, but was repurposed as a floor stone in the adjacent building after it was broken. (Vindolanda Trust)

Health Editor’s Note: If you are ever in Scotland and/or Northern England, include a trip to Hadrian’s Wall, from one end to the other. While much if the wall has been claimed by those who came after the Romans, for building materials, this is still an awesome site with the forts that dot it….Carol  

Archaeologists Uncover an Ancient Roman Game Board at Hadrian’s Wall

by Jason Daley

Life in the Roman legions is often presented as constant excitement, with endless military campaigns subduing people throughout Europe and the Near East. But the truth is Roman soldiers had down time. As evidenced by a gridded gaming board recently uncovered during excavations of Hadrian’s Wall, a 73-mile-long fortification in what’s now northern England that once delineated the northern frontier of the Roman Empire, soldiers played games to pass the time.

Tony Henderson at Chronicle Live reports that the cracked stone game board was uncovered late last month while archaeologists excavated a third century building behind the bath house at Vindolanda, one of 14 forts along Hadrian’s Wall. It’s believed that the board was likely used in the bath house, but was repurposed as a floor stone in the adjacent building after it was broken.

It’s unknown how the board was cracked, but a spokesperson for the site tells Henderson it could be a colorful story. “You can almost picture the losing Roman tipping the board up in frustration, causing it to break,” he says.

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Carol graduated from Riverside White Cross School of Nursing in Columbus, Ohio and received her diploma as a registered nurse. She attended Bowling Green State University where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and Literature. She attended the University of Toledo, College of Nursing, and received a Master's of Nursing Science Degree as an Educator. She has traveled extensively, is a photographer, and writes on medical issues. Carol has three children RJ, Katherine, and Stephen - one daughter-in-law; Katie - two granddaughters; Isabella Marianna and Zoe Olivia - and one grandson, Alexander Paul. She also shares her life with her husband Gordon Duff, many cats, and two rescues.