From 15 to 30 July 2017, The 27th Festival of Archaeology, coordinated yearly by the Council for British Archaeology, showcases the very best of British archaeology by presenting special events hosted by museums, heritage organisations, universities, societies and community archaeologists all over the UK.
As their contribution to this year’s festival, Dorset County Museum will host a variety of events including a rare opportunity to tour the Museum’s archaeology store too seeing archaeology in action with the cleaning and the analysis of the skeleton of the Whitcombe Warrior.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for people to see a whole range of archaeological artefacts that aren’t normally on display, “said Jon Murden, Director of Dorset County Museum. “In the past these tours completely sold out as so many people were interested in coming along – we hope it will be even more popular this year.“
Visitors to the museum can also see the Ancient Dorset gallery which tells the fascinating story of the past of the ancient peoples living in this county, from the Lower Palaeolithic Age three million years ago to 1066AD. Including a display of the discovered mass Viking burial discovered on the Ridgeway outside Weymouth.
Dorset County Museum has seven events taking place over the two weeks of the Festival:
- Monday 17 July – Guided Tours of the Ancient Dorset Gallery (normal admission prices apply). Tours will start at 11.00am and 2.30pm – no need to book.
- Tuesady 18 July – Store Tours of All Saints Church This is where thousands of archaeology artefacts are stored. Tours will take place at 10.30am, 12noon, 1.30pm and 3.30pm. Places are limited and must be reserved. Cost is the normal museum admission price and includes admission to the museum. Tel: 01305 756827 to book your place.
- Wednesday 19 July – Object Identification Surgery David Ashford and Ciorstaidh Hayward Trevarthen (Dorset Finds Liaison Officer) will be available from 10am to 1.30pm in the Museum Library ready to help you identify your archaeological finds. If you have unearthed objects through metal detecting, on the beach or underwater, or just gardening at home, then please bring them along and find out what they are. Ciorstaidh may ask to borrow your finds and record the details on the finds database so that the information can contribute to our understanding of Dorset’s past. Ciorstaidh works as part of the national Portable Antiquities Scheme which records thousands of items of pottery and flint, metal objects, coins and other finds, dating from prehistory to the post-medieval, each year. The database can be found here: finds.org.uk/database
No admission charge to this surgery, but normal admission prices apply for entry to the museum’s galleries.
- Friday 21 July – Guided Tours of the Ancient Dorset Gallery (normal admission prices apply). Tours will start at 11.00am and 2.30pm – no need to book.
- Monday 24 July – Bodies and Bones Normal admission prices apply. Dr Clare Randall will be cleaning the Whitcombe Warrior plus plenty of activities relating to archaeology in the Ancient Dorset Gallery. Normal admission prices apply.
The Whitcombe Warrior is a rare example of a Late Iron Age burial which includes a sword. The Warrior was buried in a small cemetery near Whitcombe, Dorset just before or around the time of the Roman invasion, in a style which is unique to Dorset and is associated with the local tribe, the Durotriges. The Warrior has been on display for many years, and his remains now need some TLC – even things on display in sealed museum cases get dusty over time. We are taking the opportunity during the Festival of Archaeology to give the Warrior a clean, but rather than take him off display to do this, we are going to do the work in the gallery which will give visitors the opportunity to see the remains slightly closer up and discuss them with Dr Clare Randall, who works as an osteoarchaeologist. This is a chance to find out more about the Late Iron Age people of Dorset and their health, disease and burial rituals as well as how we can deduce information from bones. There will be objects of the period to handle and the chance to drop in and chat while the work goes on.
Clare also works with animal remains, and there will be hands on activities for younger visitors which help to explain why the bones of animals are so important to archaeologists and how they are studied. Can you tell the difference between a sheep and a dog if they don’t have their coat on? Can you deduce what an animal might eat or how it lived, just from bits of bones? Could you design an animal from scratch?
- Tuesday 25 July – Store Tours of All Saints Church This is where thousands of archaeology artefacts are stored. Tours will take place at 10.30am, 12noon, 1.30pm and 3.30pm. Places are limited and must be reserved. Cost is the normal museum admission price and includes admission to the museum. Tel: 01305 756827 to book your place.
- Thursday 27 July – Bodies and Bones Normal admission prices apply. Dr Clare Randall will be cleaning the Whitcombe Warrior plus plenty of activities relating to archaeology in the Ancient Dorset Gallery. Normal admission prices apply.
- Festival of Archaeology – www.archaeologyfestival.org.uk
- Wessex Archaeology – www.wessexarch.co.uk
- Context One Archaeological Services – www.contextone.co.uk