Festival of Archaeology at the Dorset County Museum

Festival of Archaeology 2017From 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 JulyGuided 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.

Bronze-Axe-Head

  • 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.
Whitcombe Warrior

Whitcombe Warrior

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.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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Museum visited by over 2,000 school children in 2015

School Group at Dorset County Museum -® Jonathan North  -DCM 2015

This year Dorset County Museum has been visited by 56 schools – that’s more than 2,000 school children through the front doors.

Many of these children are local, but the museum also attracts schools from further afield – this year we’ve even had a class from Germany, and 10 pupils all the way from Singapore!

Emma Talbot, Head of Education and Learning at the Museum says, “It is fabulous to see so many children actively engaging with Dorset’s past. We offer a programme for schools that is creative, fun and hands on as well as being linked to the national curriculum. Our tour guides are all volunteers and do an amazing job making history come alive for the children. We couldn’t offer this service without them and I can’t thank them enough.”

Class Teacher, Sasha Jones of Milborne St Andrew First School commented after a recent visit “The assistance we received from all staff and volunteers was excellent. The activities available were perfectly in line with what we have been learning, and the children had a fantastic day and learnt a lot which resulted in some beautiful writing. It was a great opportunity for the children to see and touch real Iron Age and Roman artefacts – and they loved eating their lunch on a real Roman mosaic too!”

With a brand new Ancient Dorset Gallery, Dorset County Museum can offer the following educational sessions: Dinosaurs & Fossils; Archaeology; Stone Age to Iron Age; Roman Dorset; a visit to The Roman Town House. All guides are knowledgeable and experienced, and children can handle objects.

If you’d like to find out more or book a session in 2016 for your school, contact Emma Talbot on 01305 756832, or email her at education@dorsetcountymuseum.org or visit the Dorset County Museum website for more details www.dorsetcountymuseum.org/education

Testing the Boundaries: Life, Land and Livestock in Later Prehistory by Dr. Clare Randall

Dr. Clare Randall

Dr. Clare Randall

This Friday, 2nd October 2015 at 7.30pm, Dorset County Museum is hosting a fascinating talk which will reveal what ancient animal bones can tell us about people’s lives in prehistoric Dorset.

Dr. Clare Randall, an osteoarchaeologist with a particular interest in pastoral farming and land use during prehistory, said “Sometimes we assume that animal bones only tell us what people ate, but in fact they speak to us of so much more. Combined with other humble things such as fields and ditches, we can learn much more about people’s lives than we could have possibly imagined.”

This talk will explore the changing ways in which people in the Bronze Age and Iron Age organised everyday tasks, leaving behind them some of the largest scale archaeology we have.

The talk is on Friday 2nd October 2015, Dorset County Museum, 7.30pm (doors open at 7.00pm). The talk is free of charge but a donation of £3.00 is encouraged to cover costs.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Object Identification Surgery at the Dorset County Museum

Roman CoinsBring your ’mystery’ objects along to one of our three sessions per week and our enquiries team will do their best to provide an identification for you on the spot wherever possible. The Object Surgery will take place on:

  • Tuesday: 10.00 am to 3.30 pm: All enquiries
  • Wednesday: 10.00 am to 1.00 pm: All enquiries
  • Thursday: 10.30 am to 12 noon: All enquiries / 1.00 pm to 3.00 pm: Geology enquires

The existing system where you can leave an object for identification and collect it later will continue but due to the increasing costs of administration, stationery and postage, a £1.00 donation will be requested.

For more information contact information phone 01305 756827

Archaeology Evening at Museum

The Langton Herring Iron Age Mirror

The Langton Herring Iron Age Mirror © DCM

There will be an Archaeology evening on Friday 7th February at Dorset County Museum. This is primarily a members’ event but everyone is welcome to attend, especially potential new members.

The event will commence with a book launch and will be followed by three short illustrated talks. David Carter will discuss the recent works at Sandsfoot Castle in Weymouth; Clare Randall will talk about the Cowleaze Cemeteries, and Jon Murden, Director of the Museum, will talk about the newly conserved Langton Herring Iron Age Mirror now displayed in the Museum’s archaeology gallery.

The launch of a brand new book, Paleolithic Archaeology at Broom in the Axe Valley by Dr. Rob Hosfield and Dr. Chris Green of Reading University, will commence at 6.30pm and copies of the book will be available to buy. The co-editors will give a brief presentation on the book before signing copies for purchase.

All are welcome to attend this event at Dorset County Museum. The book launch will take place at 6.30pm to be followed by the three lectures at 7.30pm. Entry is free: a donation of £3.00 is encouraged to cover costs.

For further information contact the Museum on 01305 262735 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org

 

 

Bodies in Trenches 2013

Archaeology National Trust SW

A good time to review some of the discoveries of the past year. Much of what we have written here is to do with work that National Trust archaeologists have carried out themselves. However, resources dictate that I usually need to a ask archaeological contractors to carry out recording work.

Here are some of the discoveries from repairs, developments and service trenches that needed excavating this year. At some places, a trench can be dug where there is a near certainty that archaeology will be affected…even when the location has been chosen to avoid it. At others, we do not have enough information to know what will be discovered. Geophysics can help… but often it is difficult to know what lies beneath the ground.

In January, trenching for a new drainage system and fibre-optic cable line around the house at Montacute, Somerset was watched by Mike and Peter of Terrain…

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The Conquest of Badbury Rings

Archaeology National Trust SW

The National Trust looks after about 50 hillforts and promontory forts in the south west.

Archaeologists don’t agree about what they were used for (they don’t tend to agree).

Status symbol for a local celeb? Sacred centre? Administrative hub? Market? Defended settlement? Wealth storage vault? Prison? All of the above?

Over the 500 years or so hillforts were in vogue, I like to think that their role fluctuated over time. In Dorset, I’m pretty sure that the impressive fortresses within the county usually fulfilled their traditionally believed role, as a place people could live in securely, particularly in dangerous times. Digging deep ditches and building massive ramparts with primitive tools would take a long time and surely not something to be done unless there was a real need.

Badbury Rings in Dorset is the highest hill in the area. There are good views out in all directions, surrounded by three…

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Arthur, Badon and Badbury

Archaeology National Trust SW

Each October I lead a walk at Badbury Rings as part of Dorset Archaeology Days. The weather is generally fine, I meet some great people and it’s an opportunity to share the stories of the place.

At the end, we walk up to the top of the rampart, we look out across the hillfort and surrounding landscape and I say.

“Some people believe that the battle of Mount Badon took place here”

blank faces

“But perhaps you know of Arthur. Not the romantic medieval mythical king but the person he’s based on”

Someone smiles “Yes but was he a real person?”.

“Well, there are different views. He’s the hero from a time when the Roman legions had withdrawn from Britain and left her citizens to fend for themselves ( many of them thought of themselves as Roman. Britain had been part of the Empire for nearly 400 years)”.

Badbury lies…

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