The Culture24 guide to Portable Antiquities at the Festival of British Archaeology: Part Two

By Culture24 Staff | 20 July 2009
A picture of re-enactors in the countryside

(Above) The Portable Antiquities Scheme will be at The Festival of History at Kelmarsh Hall in Northamptonshire. Picture © English Heritage

Following an opening weekend programme to keep even the most restless of archaeology fans busy, finds experts from the Portable Antiquities Scheme will be running more participation-laden events and identifying further rarities across the country this week as part of the Festival of British Archaeology 2009.

Kelmarsh Hall in Northamptonshire is already hosting English Heritage's brimming Festival of History (Saturday and Sunday), and the Scheme is taking a display of artefacts to the party, including bones, blue plaques, archaeology from the air, diggers and insights into historic buildings (admission £5-£28.50, family tickets available, visit the Festival website for full details).

The Buxton Museum in Derbyshire is taking the nearby Peak District as a starting point in Investigating the Ice Age, which will feature a demonstration and workshop by flintknapper Karl Lee and a visit from the local Finds Liaison Officer in an exploration of life in the area 10,000 years ago (Saturday, 10am-4pm).

a photograph showing several pottery sherds with writing on them

Artefacts from Kingston Lacy House in Dorset, where The National Trust will be holding an Archaeology Day in the parkland. Picture © NTPL

Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre is hosting free activities for children on Monday, including a chance to see Roman objects from recent excavations, wash up Roman pots, dress as one of Caesar's men, make a giant mosaic and have archaeological objects identified (limited places, booking essential, call 01249 705529 or email

In Dorset, the National Trust's Kingston Lacy House in Wimborne will be hosting an Archaeology Day in the parkland (August 1, 11am-4pm).

The Sussex Archaeological Society's imposing Michelham Priory, near Upper Dicker, has a day of discovery (July 29, 10.30am-4.30pm) in the company of professional archaeologist Luke Barber. The day will feature artefact handling, displays, arts and crafts, local finds identified by Finds Liaison Officer Laura Burnett, a trail and a talk on bones with Curator of Archaeology Rob Symmons.

At the Piece Hall in Halifax, The Big Dig will follow in the footsteps of Time Team with a series of excavations (July 29, 10.30am, 1.30pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm), and at The Salt Museum, in Northwich, the silver treasures left by Vikings more than 1,000 years ago will be recreated, with a member of the rugged Nordic clan turning up for good measure (July 29 and 30).

two people looking at a display case

(Above) The Buxton Museum in Derbyshire is investigating the ice age

Derby Museum and Art Gallery reckon the Vikings were either "bloodthirsty pillagers" or wholly misunderstood, so they've drafted in re-enactors and professional storytellers to ponder the truth against a backdrop of craft activities and artefacts (July 31, 11am-4pm.)

You might not usually find a Viking while walking, gardening or at work, but every year thousands of unwitting detectives chance upon interesting objects during their daily lives. Swindon Museum is one of dozens of centres where Finds Officers will be taking a look at items unearthed by the public during a Finds Day (July 29, 10.30am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-4pm.)

Anna Booth, from Somerset Heritage Service, is also asking for "metal, pottery and curiosities" at the county's Wells and Mendip Museum (July 29) – you can even leave your potential treasures with the Museum and pick them up at a later date if you can't make it for her visit. Organisers are encouraging donations in return for the service.

At the nearby North Somerset Museum, Weston-super-Mare Archaeological and Natural History Society will also be exposing revelations about the ancient history of the area and the people still exploring it (August 1).

A picture of a gun

Tullie House in Carlisle is revealing some of the weird and wonderful finds locals have produced, such as this gun from an 1885 robbery. Picture © Tullie House

The Museum of Oxford is celebrating the Festival in style with medieval decorations throughout the month, and Henley River and Rowing Museum, in Oxfordshire, is plotting a trail to an Iron Age hoard with illustrations, digs, weavers and warrior facepainting overseen by a team of archaeologists (July 31, 11am-4pm).

The Andover Museum, in Hampshire, has displays, trails, games and hands-on activities (Saturday), but their singular attraction involves Prehistoric Coil Pots Workshops.

A set of four free one-hour workshops (Saturday, 10.30am, 11.45am, 1.30pm and 2.45pm, suitable for adults and children aged over eight, contact museum to book) will be demonstrating how pottery was made before the potter's wheel was invented. There's also an Archaeological Roadshow with activities and quizzes at the Museum next week (July 29, 10am-4pm).

Oakham's Rutland Museum is celebrating 40 years of telling the history of the UK's smallest county, Leicestershire, with a day of activities (August 1, 10.30am-4pm).

Before then, they're laying on Salt Dough Jewellery Workshops, creating Roman brooch masterpieces (this Wednesday and July 29, 10.30am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-3.30pm, suitable for 6-12 year olds, £2, advance booking required).

There's an "intriguing" talk for adults into the history of homes with Deborah Frearson on Thursday (7pm, £1, call 01572 758440 to book).

For Cumbrians, Tullie House in Carlisle looks like the place to be next week (July 27-31). A different historical period will take centre stage each afternoon (1pm-4pm), starting with Egyptian hieroglyphic demonstrations and designs on clay tablets on Monday and Anglo-Saxon riddles and "Viking charms" on Tuesday.

You can meet a Medieval lady at sister site The Guildhall Museum on Wednesday, before heading back to the House for journeys through space and time charting the origins of the people of Carlisle.

The programme finishes with a Finds Day on Friday, featuring ancient artefact handling under the supervision of a resident archaeologist.

For more PAS events taking place during the Festival, visit the first part of our guide to all the activities.

To find out the best places to head for during The Festival of British Archaeology 2009, check out Culture24's Top Picks.

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