Patrick Ward/CORBIS

In the rolling hills of northern England, not far from Hadrian’s Wall, lie the ruins of Vindolanda, a Roman fort built in 85 A.D. Before Hadrian’s Wall was erected in the second century A.D., the Romans built a series of forts, including Vindolanda, to protect themselves from Celtic tribes to the north. Over the last three decades, archaeologists have found hundreds of Latin tablets at Vindolanda, including letters to and from the soldiers posted there—letters illuminating the daily lives of men and women at this lonely Roman outpost.