This July over 750 archaeological events are taking place across the UK. Co-ordinated by the Council for British Archaeology, we picked out some highlights in CA 269 but there is plenty more still to see. From digging opportunities and behind-the-scenes access to normally off-limits sites, to guided walks, re-enactments and hands-on family fun, there is something for all ages and all levels of experience. Two of our featured events are either ongoing or about to start, while the CBA’s full guide to what’s on can be found at www.archaeologyfestival.org.uk/whatson
Dumfries and Galloway
Sat 14-Sun 29 July, 11.00–16.00
In 2001 a local landlord invited the Stewartry Archaeology Trust to investigate a stone circle where legend told that the Devil had been seen dancing. When they arrived, archaeologists quickly found that the ‘monument’ was in fact a series of capstones covering a Neolithic passage grave and Early Bronze Age cremation burials. To date 62 prehistoric cremations have been found on the site, partly overlain by Medieval buildings.
Throughout the Festival of British Archaeology tours of the archaeological remains will be held twice daily at 11am and 2pm, and all comers are welcome to get involved with the investigation, though any children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
Trellech: excavations at the lost city
Sat/Sun 21-22 July, Sat/Sun 28-29 July, 10.00–18.00
Once the largest settlement in Medieval Wales, by 1650 Trellech was completely abandoned. Now ongoing investigations by Monmouth Archaeology Society are bringing this important centre to light once more. Since 2005 excavations have uncovered evidence of a substantial 14th-century manor house with two halls and a courtyard. Defended by curtain walls and a huge round tower 6m across, the remains date to c.1300 AD when the town was rebuilt in stone following English and Welsh attacks. For two weekends this summer visitors are invited to tour the site, take part in digging and help with recording and finds-processing. Activities are open to all ages regardless of experience.
Co. Antrim and Co. Armagh
Sat/Sun 21-22 July, Sat/Sun 28-29 July, 10.00-16.00
The world of our earliest ancestors can seem impossibly remote, but Irish Archaeological Research (IAR) is hosting a range of hands-on activities to help imagine what life in prehistoricIrelandmight have been like. Central to this event is a pop-up museum showcasing artefacts found during excavations across Ireland, with archaeologists on hand to answer any questions about local heritage, while a qualified archery coach will teach would-be hunter gatherers how to hit targets shaped like prehistoric prey with arrows and thrown weapons. For those with more creative interests, there will be children’s workshops on Celtic art and weaponry, while visitors can also make and decorate their own piece of prehistoric-style pottery, which they will be able to fire in a kiln and take home.
Free or £1-2