Introducing…The Festival of Archaeology

From the glamor of Indiana Jones to the iconic stripy jumpers of Time Team’s Mick Aston, archaeology is full of icons and thrilling adventures. But it’s not just digging in the dirt to find some treasure, there’s a lot of painstaking but fascinating, science, technology, and art involved. This variety (ok and yes, the dreams inspired by THAT John Williams theme) is why I chose to study it back in the day, so the return of the Festival of Archaeology always brings a smile. To help inspire you with the possibilities on offer here’s their Festival Coordinator, Gillian Waters, to tell us more…

Fascinating finds from the Grosvenor Park dig, Chester © Cheshire West and Chester Council

The Festival of Archaeology is a UK-wide annual two-week event, coordinated by the Council for British Archaeology, which showcases the work of archaeologists and encourages people of all ages and abilities to engage with their own locality and heritage through archaeology.

Archaeology helps us to learn about the world around us by using a range of techniques, such as digging and geophysics, to help us reveal the secrets of the past and discover more about the places we live. It's about turning detective to unearth objects and places, and the Festival of Archaeology helps to bring it to everyone.

Join the special launch

To celebrate the CBA's 75th birthday, the 2019 Festival of Archaeology will be launched at the British Museum on 13 July. There will be free activities for all ages, from archaeological activities to demonstrations and talks. In a special panel event, members of Channel Four’s Time Team, including Carenza Lewis, Stewart Ainsworth, John Gater and Francis Pryor, will be sharing their favourite Time Team moments and discussing the Future of Archaeology. Check out details of how to book on our Festival website. There will also be geophysics on the British Museum’s lawn with Time Team’s John Gator.  

Festival highlights: Partnering up

Roadworks, archaeology style: Excavation of a Roman road at Holystone in Northumberland, by Young Archaeologists, Tilley and Hannah / © BRP

As part of this year’s Festival of Archaeology the Council for British Archaeology’s is partnering with English Heritage’s Shout Out Loud project to deliver three free events specially designed for 14-25 year-olds. Choose from Test-Pitting at Conisbrough Castle, 3-D Artefact Modelling at the British Museum or learning how to identify the skeletal remains of medieval children in Barton on Humber.

For the first time, the Council for British Archaeology is also organising on-line festival events – so that no matter where you are you can get involved in the Festival of Archaeology. On 17 July the CBA partners with the National Trust for #AskAnArchaeologist. This live Twitter event gives you the chance to put your question to archaeologists from across the UK. On Youth Takeover Day on 22 July, our band of dedicated volunteers will be masterminding and coordinating the Council for British Archaeology and the Young Archaeologists’ Club’s social media streams. They will also be helping behind the scenes on A Day in Archaeology which also takes place on 22 July. Archaeologists will be showcasing the enormous variety of exciting career and volunteering opportunities that are available, as they post their own blogs and share details of their work.

Festival highlights: Something for everyone

This year's Festival will take place from 13-28 July 2019 and features special events hosted by hundreds of organisations across the UK. There are hidden sites to explore and new techniques to learn, with talks, tours, workshops, re-enactments, and activities for the archaeologically inclined of all ages. Our theme for this year’s festival is ArchaeoTech or the use of science and technology in archaeology and there are many exciting events based on this theme throughout the UK.

There is something for everyone. Explore the secrets and science of archaeology at the UK's only known Roman Gold Mine at Dolaucothi in Carmarthenshire, Wales, or discover the meaning of Historic Graffiti in the Guildhall, Leicester. You can meet the PAS Finds Liaison Officer for Cheshire and to talk to local archaeologists at Grosvenor Park, Chester, join the Bamburgh Research Project (BRP) on their annual excavation within the West Ward of Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland or take a Virtual Reality Tour of British Rock Art at an event organised by Masters Students from the University of York's Archaeology department.

Whatever events you get involved with during the Festival of Archaeology let us know about it via social media with the hashtag #FestivalofArchaeology. (Twitter: @archaeologyuk  / Facebook: /archaeologyuk )

Find out more

Gillian Waters

About Gillian Waters

Gillian is the Festival of Archaeology Co-ordinator at the Council for British Archaeology.