National Archaeology Week Launches Across UK

By Graham Spicer | 12 July 2006
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photo of a young boy with gloves on digging into a low earth wall

Visitors can get their hands dirty at many digs all over the country during National Archaeology Week. Photo CBA

People of all ages will be encouraged to dig up their past during National Archaeology Week 2006, with more than 300 events planned across the country from July 15 to July 23.

The events will give opportunities to gain archaeological skills, learn about artefacts, investigate local buildings and landscapes and witness interpretations of the past. All periods of British archaeology will be covered, from the Romans to the Saxons, the Tudors and more, and there will be plenty of activities aimed at families and children.

National Archaeology Week is organised by the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) and its Young Archaeologists Club and supported by English Heritage.

photo of a number of barnacle encrusted pots and bottles

Eastleigh Museum will be showing new finds from an old mooring site of HMS Victory. Photo Eastleigh Museum

Dr Mike Heyworth, Director of the CBA, explained: “National Archaeology Week is the CBA's annual flagship event, a national festival of archaeology with numerous events across England and Wales which showcase the best of British archaeology and allow everyone to see archaeology in action.”

People can assist with excavations, attend talks and exhibitions and enjoy local walks througout the UK.

David Lammy, the Minister for Culture, will be helping to launch the national initiative on July 14 at Bruce Castle in Tottenham, the MP’s constituency.

He will be getting stuck in with the community dig there that is running throughout July and visitors can investigate the project that will provide clues to the lifestyles of the area’s past residents.

“There is a huge popular fascination with the past and National Archaeology Week is helping everyone get their hands on history,” said the minister. “The walks, talks, tours, workshops and re-enactments across the UK will bring to life our neighbours from the past.”

photo of two small children in hard hats working on an archaeological dig

There will be events for all ages with children particularly encouraged to join in. Photo CBA

At Chester Amphitheatre on July 15 and 16 you can see excavations in progress, talk to archaeologists and be entertained by Roman gladiatorial combat. Kids can even join in on a mini-dig there.

Another intriguing project, opening for Archaeology Week on July 15, will be revealed at Eastleigh Museum where they have been involved in the discovery of new objects unearthed by divers from a former mooring site of Admiral Nelson flagship HMS Victory.

The divers found 200 year old clay pipes, jars, inkwells, plates and bottles that had been discarded or lost overboard, helping to illustrate the daily lives of seafarers of the early 19th century.

On July 22 and 23 the Royal Gunpowder Mills at Waltham Abbey in Essex will be inviting children to get involved with archaeological dig boxes and offering the chance to make and fire their own rockets and to see a demonstration of air and water powered rockets.

photo of a small terracotta figure of a soldier

Children can join the terracotta army workshop at Bath's Museum of East Asian Art. Photo Museum of East Asian Art

The English Heritage Investigation Team along with its Aerial Survey Team and geophysicists from Bradford University will be at Rievaulx Abbey in North Yorkshire on July 16 where they will be working with visitors to discover what lies beneath the site.

Blacksmiths, stonecarvers, woodcarvers and locksmiths will also be demonstrating the activities of the Cistercian monks who used to live at the abbey.

Kids can make their own terracotta warriors at the Museum of East Asian Art in Bath on July 22, inspired by the original 2,000-year-old clay soldiers found at Xi'an in northern China.

Several locations will also be holding finds days where members of the public can bring in objects for identification by expert archaeologists and this year the National Trust is organising activities at many of its properties. A July 15 and 16 Fossil Weekend is running at Chedworth Roman Villa in Gloucestershire and there is a guided tour of the famous stone circle and henge at Avebury on July 16 and 23.

photo of a necklance of many coloured stone beads

These beads from a pagan woman's grave were found on the Isle of Man and can be seen there at Peel Castle. Photo Manx National Heritage

Archaeology Week events are also not just confined to the mainland, with events planned in Northern Ireland, on the Isle of Man, Jersey, Isle of Wight and the Scilly Isles, so wherever you are in the country, there should be an event nearby.

“We are hopeful that the sun will shine and people of all ages will take the opportunity to get out and explore their local historic environment as part of the nine-day festival,” added Dr Heyworth.

A full list of events can be found on the CBA website