Get Your Digs During National Archaeology Week, July 12 - 20 2008

By Dawn Marshallsay | 10 July 2008
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Photo of a girl wearing a helmet and a tray of artefacts

The Museum of London will explore the theme of historic games and sports, July 19-20, in the warm-up to London's 2012 Olympic Games. © Museum of London

Explore the world beneath your feet: National Archaeology Week is back. From Saturday 12 to Sunday 20 July 2008, heritage sites across the country are staging a multitude of digs, walks, talks, re-enactments and fun days to draw the public into the world of archaeology.

It's a far cry from the ten events held in the first such week in 1990. For 2008 the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) aims to build on the tremendous success of last year's activities.

According to Dr Mike Heyworth, Director of the CBA, this year is shaping up to be as good as ever - with lots of opportunities for the public to really find out what archaeology is all about. “National Archaeology Week will showcase the best of British archaeology," said Mike, "and allow everyone to see archaeology in action.”

So, with that promise ringing in our ears, here's a selection of just some of the events happening around the UK over the next week - each of them showcasing the fascinating world of British archaeology.

Photo of a woman showing a girl how to create a coiled pot

Try your hand at pottery at Wimpole Archaeology Day on July 13, 11am- 4pm, or search for artefacts in a test pit. © Wimpole Estate

Walk the Talk

You’d be potty to miss the chance to handle real Roman and Tudor pots, during the Charnwood Museum talk on Leicestershire’s 4000 Years of Pottery production, on July 14.

A must for anyone interested in the Middle Ages, Dr Adam Longcroft will present an illustrated talk on recent research into the development of medieval towns. This University of East Anglia lecturer and Chair of the Norfolk Historic Buildings Group will give his talk at the Elizabeth Fry Building, UEA campus, Norwich, on July 12, 11am- 1pm.

To stretch your legs after all that sitting, take a walk on the wild side of the UK’s biggest mining history site. The free guided archaeological walk, starting at Geevor Tin Mine, Pendeen, Cornwall on July 15 at 2pm, will explore moorland monuments such as an enigmatic Iron Age fogou.

Meanwhile, Jersey is turning Roman. La Hougue Bie Museum in Grouville, at the site of a Neolithic, mound-covered tomb, is holding a torch-lit tour and sleepover on July 19- 20, 6pm- 9am. Following National Archaeological Week, the La Hougue Bie is transforming into a Roman camp throughout July 24-27, staging re-enactments and mosaic workshops.

Photo of people on an archaeological dig

Watch the Cambridge Archaeology Field Group digging at Wimpole Park estate near Cambridge on July 12- 13 and 19- 20, 11am- 4pm. © Wimpole Estate

Dishing the Dirt

Celebrating the 300th anniversary of the Industrial Revolution, a series of events will take place at where it all began, at what is now the Old Furnace at Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron, Telford. It was here that Abraham Darby first smelt iron with coke in 1709. The public can take part in an archaeological dig on July 19 and 20, 10am-4pm, and a series of events will follow.

Wimpole Hall Archaeology Day on July 13, 11am- 4pm, allows visitors to search for artefacts in a test pit, try their hand at making coiled pots, or follow an Archaeology Trail. Those avoiding the dirt can watch the Cambridge Archaeology Field Group digging at in Wimpole Park estate near Cambridge on July 12- 13 and 19- 20, 11am- 4pm.

Photo of a group of boys being shown different swords

Take part in Iron Age ‘battles’ at Saffron Walden Museum, July 19, 11am or 3pm, or create pottery, weapons and flour production, 10am- 4pm. © Saffron Walden Museum

Let the Battles Begin

The Welsh are sporting their armour at Chester Roman Amphitheatre and Ammanford Castle. Gladiator fights and flint knapping demonstrations are just two of the many activities on show at the amphitheatre throughout July 12-13, 10:30am- 4pm.

Ammanford Archaeology and History Society will focus on the medieval period. Their ‘Castle and Conquest in Wales’ event on July 12, 10.30am- 4.30pm, includes a medieval re-enactment group, tours of the motte and bailey castle, and prizes for youngsters dressed as medieval knights or ladies.

Children with a bit of energy to expend can take part in Iron Age ‘battles’ at Saffron Walden Museum in Essex, July 19, 11am or 3pm, or turn their hand to pottery, weapons and flour production between 10am and 4pm.

Photo of an ice skate made from a bone

Make your own roman ice skates at the Museum of London, July 19-20, but perhaps not out of bone like this one. © Museum of London

Crafty fun

In the warm-up to London’s 2012 Olympic Games, children can play historical games and explore sports injuries on Roman and medieval skeletons in the Museum of London, July 19-20. Workshops will enable youngsters to make their own medieval ice skates and Roman lamps, and there will be tours of the Roman Amphitheatre remains at London’s Guildhall Art Gallery.

Families can become forensic scientists at Manchester Museum on July 19, by using DNA analysis and archaeological evidence to unravel the mysterious find of a 2,000-year-old man in a peat bog on Lindow Moss.

Young sleuths ware being employed to solve a murder mystery from Dark Age Canterbury. The Skeleton Pit! Event at the Museum of Canterbury allows youngsters to investigate the discovery of skeletons of two adults, two children and their dog, on July 12, 10.30am- 4pm.

Photo of a boy crafting a flint object under supervision

Following its successful flint knapping workshop, Red House Museum invites you to make Celtic belts, brooches and pots, July 12. © Red House Museum

Following its successful flint knapping workshop, the Red House Museum in Christchurch, Dorset, invites you to make your own Celtic belts, brooches and pots, on July 12, 10am- 3pm. A Finds Identification Day will take place on July 19, 10am- 3pm.

Flint knapping and a mini-dig will take place at the Salisbury Museum ‘Stonehenge Spectacular’ on July 12, 10am- 4pm.

Obviously this is just the merest taster of the events happening during National Archaeology Week. For full national listings, visit www.nationalarchaeologyweek.org.uk and find an archaeological event near you!

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