Visitors to Stratford over the next couple of weeks will get a ‘hole’ new view into the home of the world’s greatest playwright, as the Dig for Shakespeare continues.
On Friday 30 July, a specially commissioned piece of pavement artwork will be revealed at Stratford’s Bancroft Gardens. The artwork has been created as a ‘trompe l’oeil’ – specifically designed to give the pavement the appearance of having been excavated to reveal Shakespeare’s study, complete with desk, quill and inkpot! The piece has been created in conjunction with experts from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, from the style of the chair to the manuscript on the desk, to depict as accurately as possible how the room at New Place might have looked!
“People visiting Stratford may not be aware of the Dig for Shakespeare taking place just a few hundred yards away on Chapel Street, but this three dimensional artwork will illustrate to visitors from every corner of the globe what we are trying to do with the archaeological dig,” says Director of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Diana Owen. “It is an amazing piece of art – when you look at it from a specific angle, it really does fool you into believing that there is a deep hole in the ground, as if we’ve literally stumbled across Shakespeare’s study!”
The artwork will remain on display in Bancroft Gardens for around two weeks – where it is expected that literally thousands of visitors will take souvenir photographs - to let people know about the exciting archaeology project, which hopes to find out more about Shakespeare’s later life when he returned from London to Stratford.
Dig for Shakespeare is a live archaeological dig, which enables visitors of all ages to see archaeologists at work at the site of Shakespeare’s last home in Stratford. Already three months into the dig, archaeologists have now reached the level where they are most likely to find deposits from Shakespeare’s time, and hope is high that they will locate waterlogged rubbish pits which will give historians a real insight into how Shakespeare and his family lived, day to day – from what they ate to the bugs that lived in their beds!
Whilst the archaeologists continue to work, rain or shine, outside in the pit, visitors can join what is thought to be the world’s largest archaeological ‘sieving’ exercise in a dedicated marquee funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund – sifting through literally tonnes of soil removed from the site to search for artefacts that the archaeologists may have missed.
“Already, checking through the spoil of the dig has revealed 17th century coins, fragments of medieval pottery and a gaming die, so we know that there are items in this soil just waiting to be found,” adds Diana.
Once visitors have purchased a ticket, they are able to come back as many times as they want for the rest of the summer, and also have access to Shakespeare’s Birthplace and Hall’s Croft in Stratford, representing great value for money and a way of keeping the children busy and engaged during the six week holidays! There is also a range of activities planned for children throughout the summer.
The Dig for Shakespeare is open daily from 10.00am to 6.00pm at Nash’s House & New Place, on Chapel Street, Stratford-upon-Avon. A 12 month ticket costs £12.50 for adults, £11.50 for concessions and £8.00 for children. The dig continues until September 2010.
For more information, or to book tickets, please visit www.digforshakespeare.com or call 01789 292325.
Notes to editors:
Photo-caption: Gabriella Commins, aged 7, ‘leaps’ across the 3D hole
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, founded in Stratford in 1847, is the guardian of the world’s greatest Shakespeare heritage sites, comprising Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Nash’s House & New Place, Hall’s Croft, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and Mary Arden’s Farm. Offering a unique Shakespeare centred experience, The Trust is a truly global brand that has been attracting visitors to the houses since as early as the 17th century.
At the heart of all things ‘Shakespeare’, the Trust is not only at the forefront of academic learning, but also an iconic destination in the UK and the cornerstone of the region’s identity and tourism economy. The five houses offer a multi-layered experience for visitors unlike any other, giving people from all over the world the opportunity to learn about the life of the world’s greatest playwright, discover his work and experience a real sense of the times that influenced him here in Stratford.
Anyone wishing to volunteer at the Dig for Shakespeare can do so by contacting Helen Arbron on 01789 204016, or email email@example.com. The dig is open seven days a week, and volunteers aged 14 or over are required every day.
Birmingham Archaeology is the commercial arm of the Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity at the University of Birmingham. It comprises three teams; Birmingham Archaeology Heritage Services, the Visual and Spatial Technology Centre (VISTA) and Birmingham Archaeo-Environmental (BAE). Each of the groups is responsible for the undertaking of commercial projects and services, the development of research projects and the delivery of postgraduate and professional training via taught Masters programmes and Continuing Professional Development workshops.
Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported 33,900 projects, allocating £4.4billion across the UK. www.hlf.org.uk
The Shakespeare Houses and Gardens are winners of the Gold Award for ‘Best Tourism Experience in the Heart of England Excellence in Tourism Awards 2009.
For further information about the houses, please visit www.shakespeare.org.uk
For further information and press enquiries please contact:
PRO Dig for Shakespeare
Tel: 0113 251 5698
Mobile: 07810 546567
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