Heritage Open Days 2010: Ten tours unlocking the wonders of archaeology

By Richard Moss | 08 September 2010
a photo of a stone circle
The stones of Avebury are just one of the mysteries explored during Heritage Open Days 2010© Richard Moss / Culture24
From explorations of megalithic remains to amphitheatre strolls with Roman Legionaries, Heritage Open Days offers plenty of opportunities for the archaeologically inclined. Here’s a taster - ten events chosen by Culture24 editor Richard Moss. Just click on the highlighted title of each to go straight through to the details on the Heritage Open Days website.

Grimspound Bronze Age Settlement and Hambledon Down Shapley Common, Devon, Saturday

The windswept moors of Dartmoor are awash with mysterious stones, burial sites and baffling abandoned settlements. One of the biggest and best is Grimspound, which boasts a stone wall and the remains of 24 houses. Explore this and other remains during a four-and-three-quarter hour walk with the Dartmoor National Park Authority.

Explore the Roman Hypocausts at Spud-U-Like and Miss Selfridge, Chester, Thursday to Sunday

Chester is a city with more than its fair share of Roman archaeology. These two visits reveal the remains of a Roman commander's heating system behind a clothes boutique and a Roman legionaries' bath house complex under a potato shop.

Peacehaven Barrow Excavation, Friar's Bay, Peacehaven, Friday and Saturday

The South Downs of Sussex are a rich Neolithic and Bronze Age landscape where barrows and hill forts meld seamlessly into the landscape. One of them, a barrow, sits precariously on the periphery of this National Park above the cliff edge at Peacehaven. Join an investigation by Brighton and Hove Archaeological Society before this Scheduled Ancient Monument disappears into the sea.

A Walk with the Romans to the Amphitheatre, Cirencester, Saturday

You can't have a Heritage Open Days without re-enactors – so how do fancy joining a bunch of Roman Legionaries on a trip to the Amphitheatre? If the answer is yes then hook up with the Ermine Street Guard as they march through town and up to the Amphitheatre in Cotswold Avenue. Funny things can happen on the way to the Amphitheatre…

Free entry to the Alexander Kiedler Museum Avebury, Wiltshire, Saturday

If you're a fan of stone circles and the mysteries they retain then you will know the stone circle at Avebury (pictured top) is a must-visit. But after wandering amidst these enigmatic megaliths the best place to find out more about the archaeology of Avebury is the Alexander Keiller Museum, which is offering special tours of the museum archive and the chance to see some "hidden gems".

Explore Caistor Roman Town, Norfolk, Saturday

They've been excavating Caistor Roman Town – or Venta Icenorum to give it the original name – for some years now. Norwich Archaeological Society will be taking visitors on special tours to see the latest excavations and view finds from this Romano British town which was the market place of the Iceni.

River Alde Saxon Archaeological Project, Suffolk, Thursday and Friday

Anyone who knows their Ancient British history knows that Suffolk is the land of the Saxons – teeming as it is with hidden histories of our Anglo-Saxon forebears. Suffolk County Archaeological Service will be carrying out an archaeological dig at one such place – an Anglo-Saxon site tucked away on the banks of the River Alde on the Hazelwood Marshes, which are owned by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust.

Gipton Wood Archaelogical Walk, near Leeds, Thursday

Gipton Wood, an ancient mysterious woodland near Leeds, boasts prehistoric settlements that English Heritage have scheduled as Ancient Monuments. If you don your stout shoes you may join the Friends of Gipton Wood to enter this ancient labyrinth and discover the Sam Earthworks – dating to the early Bronze Age.

Verulamium in a Nutshell Guided Walk, St Albans, Saturday and Sunday

Verulanium was Roman Britain's third-largest town, so it's not surprising to find there are still lots of things to see – if you know where to look. This tour takes in a complete Roman Theatre, Roman Walls, the London Gate and an impressive mosaic.

Tarset Castle Walk, Northumberland, Sunday

Tarset Castle is a 13th century fortified house currently under threat of collapse becauee of land slip and river erosion. The impressive earthworks and fragmentary remains will be explored and explained by Tarset Archive Group during a three-mile history hike over rough terrain.

Planning your trip? See our introduction to Heritage Open Days 2010 and guides to art, science, and our city guide to Norwich.

Heritage Open Days runs from September 9-12. Visit www.heritageopendays.org.uk for full listings.
More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
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