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What’s on at the National Trust’s Festival of Archaeology in the East of England?





The National Trust is holding its annual Festival of Archaeology with a series of events for visitors to its properties.

Organised by the Council for British Archaeology, the festival is the UK’s biggest annual celebration of archaeology, which this year has as its theme ‘Creativity and Archaeology’ and is taking place from July 15 to 30 July with events across the country, including at the Wimpole Estate, the Oxburgh Estate and Sutton Hoo in the East of England.

Using a trowel during a costumed recreation of the 1930s archaeological dig by Basil Brown at Sutton Hoo, Suffolk. Picture: National Trust images, John Millar
Using a trowel during a costumed recreation of the 1930s archaeological dig by Basil Brown at Sutton Hoo, Suffolk. Picture: National Trust images, John Millar

National Trust properties will be running activities ranging from guided walks, finds handling and talks, to children’s activities, surveying and excavations to help visitors learn more about archaeology.

Tom Dommett, the National Trust’s head of historic environment said:“Archaeology is so important for understanding the sites that we look after, and for telling the stories of the generations of people before us who have left their mark in the places we love today. By exploring the earthworks of lost landscapes, the ruins of abandoned buildings, or the buried remains so tantalisingly close beneath our feet, we can make connections with past communities and begin to imagine the lives they once led. I am thrilled that people of all ages will be able to tap into their inner Indiana Jonesand discover more about archaeology around the country by joining in with our Festival activities and events.”

View of the hall and parterre at Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire. Picture: Mike Selby.
View of the hall and parterre at Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire. Picture: Mike Selby.

What’s on in the East of England:

Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire, July 21-24

The Cambridge Archaeology Field Group will be on site at Wimpole Estate during the Festival, excavating test pits in Wimpole’s parterre. Their aim is to establish if the wall foundations belonging to the garden created by Thomas Chicheley in the 1650s are present under some of the current flower beds or if there’s evidence of the medieval house that pre-dates the hall. There are also accessible sand-digging pits for those who want to discover their inner young archaeologist.

Sutton Hoo, Suffolk, July 15-30

One of the most famous archaeological sites in Britain, Sutton Hoo saw the discovery of the Anglo-Saxon ship burial in 1939 on the eve of the Second World War. Step back in time over 1,000 years with different living history groups throughout the Festival with opportunities to see crafts, weapons and demonstrations of weaving and dyeing, storytelling, replicas of the treasures found in the famous ship burial and even the chance to see King Rædwald himself! And between 27-28 July, The Sutton Hoo Ship’s Company will be demonstrating the practice of timber cleaving - splitting a tree into planks by hand - a traditional process being used to make a full-scale replica of the ship. To bring the festival to a close, enjoy the spectacle of hundreds of beautifully painted model Anglo-Saxon warriors and their enemies as they line up for mortal combat across the wargames table.

Oxburgh Estate, Norfolk, July 25-29

Recent archaeological excavations out in the parkland at Oxburgh Estate have uncovered thousands of items that reveal more about Oxburgh’s hidden past. Come and see for yourself, as the National Trust displays some of the amazing finds unearthed as part of the project, including Neolithic, Roman and Medieval objects. You can also meet the team who are sifting through and cataloguing the finds discovered under the floorboards within the hall, as part of the recent roof project. Children can also enjoy sifting through treasure, before testing their archaeological skills as a heritage explorer. And for those wanting to delve a bit deeper, book yourselves onto a special ‘Underground Secrets’ tour, which will take you off the beaten track to discover more of Oxburgh’s incredible archaeology, including areas not normally accessed by visitors.

For the latest information about events at National Trust places during the Festival of Archaeology visit https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/whats-on/festival-of-archaeology



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