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Letters From the (Distant) Past: The Vindolanda Tablets

The Vindolanda tablets are a set of writing tablets, dating from the late 1st to early 2nd centuries AD and unearthed in northern England in the 1970s. They form a remarkable cache of correspondence received by the garrison of the Roman fort of Vindolanda, close to what would become Hadrian’s Wall. They are made of wood shavings, written on with pen and ink. (It is worth reminding ourselves that, whilst the pen and paper of today are starting to be seen as old fashioned, other methods of letter writing have also fallen by the wayside.) Over 1600 have been found over the decades since the first discovery. Together, they are among the oldest letters in British history.


I have a confession to make. I’ve never actually written a real letter. This is perhaps gauche, considering I’m working on a literary journal whose sole focus it is to publish letters. But I’m a gen Z and we communicate with everything but pen and paper, so hopefully you’ll forgive me. Through my work with The Letters Page though, I’ve had the absolute delight of reading some of the best (totally unbiased opinion here) letters that are out there. So, in an attempt to pop my letter-writing cherry, here is a letter entirely composed of some of my favourite lines of yours; it is an homage to letters past, to letter-writing, and to intangible connections.

‘Half the World Away’: Letters From Around the Globe

I am not a particularly massive fan of  Oasis. I know their biggest songs (everyone knows Wonderwall) and I am also aware of the decades long fervent animosity that still remains between brothers Liam and Noel. Perhaps you’re wondering the relevance (or rather lack of it) to this article, yet as I sit down at my desk, searching for inspiration for this piece, in the next room my Dad’s vinyl of Oasis’ Half the World Away’ is crackling and whirring as the needle first presses onto the record.

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