As yet another box office blockbuster celebrates archaeologists as action heroes, the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) is looking forward to the biggest and best National Archaeology Week ever. Thousands of budding archaeologists around the country will be getting ready for what promises to be an amazing week of events, excavations and exhibitions.
Characters like Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones, Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft and even the character Ben Gates, played by Nicholas Cage in the National Treasure movies, have made archaeology sexy and exciting. Although gunfights, bullwhips and angry Soviets are not part of the plan, a huge programme of events means that record numbers of visitors are expected to get a taste of archaeology during National Archaeology Week 2008.
“Archaeology is something that absolutely everyone can get involved with, from young children to grandparents, but often it can be quite difficult to get started,” explains Mike Heyworth, Director of the CBA. “National Archaeology Week really opens the subject up, with activities in every corner of the country looking at local projects and historic sites – from Anglo-Saxon palaces in Northumberland to Romans in Kent and underwater archaeology in Cornwall, so that participants can really enjoy true hands-on history!”
The events are run by museums, galleries, heritage sites, universities and archaeological societies throughout England and Wales. All periods of history – and indeed, prehistory – are covered, with events and activities to immerse and engage participants in many different aspects of archaeology.
“What many people do not realise is that Britain was essentially the birthplace of modern archaeology – investigating the past via a systematic approach of investigation, examination, and then cataloguing what you have found to build up a detailed picture of the past,” adds Mike. “Our archaeologists are still rated as some of the finest in the world, with ground-breaking work in places like York setting the standard for global archaeology.”
To help budding archaeologists find their local events, the CBA has launched a new website, www.nationalarchaeologyweek.org.uk, which lists over 400 events, including hands-on activities, family fun days, talks, demonstrations and walks taking place between Saturday 12 and Sunday 20 July 2008.
Notes for editors:
National Archaeology Week is co-ordinated by the Council for British Archaeology, an educational charity founded in 1944 to promote the appreciation and care of the historical environment for the benefit of present and future generations.
National Archaeology Day was launched in 1990 with ten events around the country. As the popularity of the day increased, so the day was extended to involve a whole week, and in 2004 was extended to cover nine days of events and activities. In 2007, over 430 events took place as part of National Archaeology Week.
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National Archaeology Week 2008 event highlights
1. Tower of London Foreshore open sessions
Sat 26 - Sun 27 July 11.00-approx 16.00 (16.30 Sun)
Foreshore access depends entirely on tidal conditions. Low tide approx 13.00-15.00 (Sat 26), 14.00-16.00 (Sun 27)
H M Tower of London
This annual event will centre around public access to the Thames foreshore at the Tower of London, the only time of the year when this is possible. The foreshore here is an outstanding archaeological resource, with finds giving evidence for 2,000 years of activity at the site. Make no mistake – this is real archaeology, really from the Tower of London! Everything is as hands-on as possible, with real artefacts as well as replicas, and a wide variety of activities relating not only to archaeology but also ecology, river safety, armour and art.
Contact: Sutherland Forsyth, Historic Royal Palaces
T: 0844 4827777
E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.hrp.org.uk/TowerofLondon/WhatsOn
2. Morwellham Quay Industrial Excavations: Volunteers wanted!
Sat 26 July - Sun 3 Aug
Morwellham Quay, Near Tavistock, Devon PL19 8JL
The main excavation this year will excavate the upper deck and empty the well of a small 18th century lime kiln. This will enable its conservation, while hopefully locating large quantities of mid-late 19th century domestic rubbish, including ginger beer bottles from the neighbouring Ship Inn. The excavation of the upper deck of the kiln, also the trial excavations will be suitable for adults and children, but the limekiln well excavation will be restricted to adults only. Age limit of 12 years and over this year - all children under 16 are accompanied by a parent or guardian. Smaller children can of course watch what we are doing. All volunteers are welcome, it doesn’t matter if you have little or no experience, as training will be given on the job. Pre-booking is required.
Contact: Robert Waterhouse, Morwellham Quay.
T: 01364 652963
E: email@example.com W: www.morwellham-quay.co.uk
3. Portable Antiquities Scheme Finds Identification days.
Sat 12 - Sun 20 July
Throughout National Archaeology Week, the Portable Antiquities Scheme will be running over 40 archaeological finds identification and recording sessions at local museums and other venues -many of which will include a variety of other activities for adults and children. For further details refer to the websites of the Portable Antiquities Scheme (www.finds.org.uk/naw) or National Archaeology Week (www.nationalarchaeologyweek.org.uk).
If you have ever found an old coin, a piece of worked stone, a metal object or a piece of pottery, and ever wondered what it was, this is the perfect event. All archaeological finds - though initially they might seem unimportant - have the potential to advance archaeological knowledge.
Contact: Michael Lewis, Portable Antiquities Scheme
T: 020 7323 8618 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.finds.org.uk
4. Discover Underwater Archaeology
Sat 12 - Sun 20 July Daily. Times as marked on the boards on the Quay.
Newquay, Cornwall. Leaving from the Quay St Mary’s daily, but at different times to find slack water (tide).
A brief boat ride to the wreck of HMS Colossus 1798, with live running commentary from skipper, underwater cameraman, and freelance remotely operated vehicle pilot - David McBride. Live footage onboard as we moor up and launch Tiburon’s Remote controlled Underwater Video Camera Robot. A sensational tour of the shipwreck remains - cannons elevated from their gunports, ships fittings and fascinating sea life. Then return to St Mary’s Quay or another island to complete your day. Boat: 07884 365375 Pre-booking is required.
Contact: Dave/Sarah McBride, Tiburon Boating and Sealife Adventures.
5. Mud, Movies and Marathon
Sat 12 - Sun 13 July 10.30-17.00
Fort Cumberland, Fort Cumberland Road, Eastney, Portsmouth PO4 9LD
Free event. Hands-on Archaeology, The Pulbrook Archers, tours of the fort, demonstrations including crafts, talks on archaeology, the Olympic Trail, and even singing Plague Victims! Finds identification with the Portable Antiquities Scheme.
Contact: English Heritage
T: 023 9285 6704
E: Kirsty.email@example.com W: www.english-heritage.org.uk#
6. Skeleton Pit!
Sat 12 July 10.30-16.00
Museum of Canterbury Stour Street CANTERBURY, Kent
Explore a real murder mystery from Dark Age Canterbury! The skeletons of two adults, two children and an old arthritic dog have been found in a shallow pit with amazing finds. Investigate the crime scene and learn practical archaeological and forensic skills to discover who they were and how they died! Children age 5 plus with accompanying adult. £3 per child. Session lasts approximately 1 hour and must be pre-booked. Pre-booking is required.
Contact: Martin Crowther, Canterbury City Museums, .
T: 01227 475 202
E: Martin.firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.canterbury-museums.co.uk
7. Guardians to the King: Terracotta Treasures from Ancient China
From Sat 19 July 10.00-17.00 (Sun 16.00)
Colchester Castle Museum, Essex
Colchester Castle Museum is hosting an exhibition of 43 miniature terracotta figures from Xuzhou Museum in Jiangsu Province, China. The exhibition is the flagship activity of a year-long festival which celebrates 20 years of friendship between Essex and Jiangsu. This fascinating exhibition will offer visitors a rare, breathtaking experience, seeing objects and discovering stories from the Chinese Han Dynasty period. The terracotta figures are more than 2000 years old and represent soldiers, officials, dancers, musicians and cavalry horses. The objects have been excavated in the last 25 years from a series of royal tombs which belonged to the Kings of Chu discovered at Xuzhou. The figures are from the funerary objects of a king who ruled China from 206BC to 24AD and are from the same tradition as the slightly older terracotta warriors from Xian which have recently been on display at the British Museum.
Contact: Marie Taylor, Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service, .
T: 01206 282939 W: www.colchestermuseums.org.uk
8. Leicestershire Archaeology Week
Sat 12 – Sun 20 July
Find out about the archaeology of Leicestershire, Rutland and Leicester with over 25 events, talks and guided tours, including:
Behind the scenes at The Time Team: Tues 15 July 14.00
Harborough Museum, Adam and Eve Street, Market Harborough, Leics, LE16 7AG
Romans Revealed: Sat 12 July 11.30-16.00
Jewry Wall Museum, St Nicholas Circle, Leicester.
Flint knapping demonstration: Sat 12 July 11.00-16.00
Rutland County Museum & Visitor Centre, Catmose Street, Oakham, Rutland.
Dark Age Donington: Sun 13 July 11.00-16.00
Donington le Heath Manor House, Coalville, Leicestershire, LE67 2FW
Contact: Peter Liddle, Keeper of Archaeology, Room 500, County Hall, Glenfield, Leicester
T: 0116 305 8326;
9. Festival of History
Sat 19 - Sun 20 July 09.30-18.00
Kelmarsh Hall, Northamptonshire
Festival of History returns this year to the stunning historic site of Kelmarsh Hall. Festival of History is the UK’s largest historical event featuring a weekend full of clashing swords, thundering hooves, roaring cannons, screaming aeroplanes and have-a-go fun! With more than 50 different shows each day Festival of History really does bring 2,000 years of England’s glorious history spectacularly to life.
Contact: Kelmarsh Hall, English Heritage
T: 0870 333 1183 W: www.english-heritage.org.uk
10. Open day at Weoley Castle Ruins
Sun 13 July 13.00-16.00
Weoley Castle Ruins, Alwold Road, Weoley Castle, B29, Birmingham
Weoley Castle Ruins are the ruins of a 13th-century fortified manor house. The site is not normally open to the public. Guided tours will explore the history of the site while sword fighting demonstrations, medieval herbalist/cook and knight on horseback will bring history to life. Children’s activities with a medieval theme. Archaeologists familiar with the excavation history of the ruins will be on site to give tours and answer questions
Contact: Irene de Boo, Birmingham City Council, .
T: 0121 464 2193/0401 E: Irene.email@example.com W: www.bmag.org.uk
11. Roman Invasion Day
Sat 19 July 11.00-15.00
Hull and East Riding Museum, The Museums Quarter, High Street, Hull.
The Romans will be invading the Hull and East Riding Museum on Saturday 19th July – so why not go along and meet them. The soldiers might let you try on their helmets or maybe even hold their swords, if you dare to ask them! Get your hands on objects used in Roman East Yorkshire nearly 2000 years ago and ask the shop keeper and his wife all about them. Or why not take time-out to watch a Roman potter at work and learn how to make pots the Roman way. Free entry to the museum and all the activities.
Contact: Paula Gentil, Hull Museums, .
T: 01492 613902 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.hullcc.gov.uk
12. Bamburgh Research Project Open Days
Sat 19 - Sun 20 July 11.00-16.00
Bamburgh Castle, Bamburgh, Northumberland NE69 7DF
Meet the archaeologists and find out about the fascinating finds they are revealing on the site of King Oswald’s 7th century royal fortress. Join one of the guided tours being run by the Bamburgh Research Group to allow free access to the excavations. Tours will gather at the entrance to the Castle car park at 11.00am, 12 noon, 2.00pm and 3.00pm each day and be led directly to the excavation in the West Ward. Tickets for an internal tour of the Castle, which includes the archaeological museum, can be purchased at the ticket office. In addition to the guided tours, finds processing will be undertaken at the trench side (as far as the weather will permit) by Bamburgh Research Project staff, who will be happy to ask answer any questions. A demonstration of archaeological metalworking will be provided adjacent to Trench 3 in the West Ward, timed to commence at the end of each guided tour. Also during the weekend there will be living history displays by costumed re-enactors and displays relating to the making and use of early medieval armour and weapons. This event is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and is part of the Golden Age of Northumbria Festival, celebrating the Anglo-Saxon and early Christian heritage of north Northumberland. www.goldenageofnorthumbria.com
Contact: Graeme Young, Bamburgh Research Project, part of the Golden Age of Northumbria Festival,
T: 01668 214515
E: email@example.com W: www.bamburghresearchproject.co.uk
13. When the Digging Stops
Sat 12 - Sun 20 July
National Museum Cardiff, National Roman Legion Museum and National History Museum St Fagans
How do archaeologists use artefacts and clues discovered on excavations or finds made by members of the public to learn about our past? Join us at three venues for a week of activities, talks and demonstrations to celebrate NAW!
Contact: National Museum Wales
T: 029 2057 3148 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.museumwales.ac.uk
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