Festival of Archaeology

Join in this July with the Council for British Archaeology’s Festival of Archaeology! The theme for 2023 is ‘Archaeology and Creativity’, which will be explored online and in-person across the programme. Ceri Pennington has put together a selection of this year’s regional highlights.

Coordinated by the Council for British Archaeology (CBA), the Festival of Archaeology runs from 15-30 July, and will provide a wide variety of opportunities to get involved with archaeology and heritage across the UK. The organisers include universities and commercial units, as well as community interest groups and archaeological organisations. Events will range from joining in with community excavations to attending site tours and guided walks through archaeological landscapes. With this year’s theme focused on creativity, there will be plenty of opportunities for all ages to be inspired by heritage and to unleash their imaginations. To find out more about the events taking place across the Festival, please visit http://www.archaeologyuk.org/festival.html, and follow the Festival of Archaeology’s social media and #FestivalofArchaeology for updates.


Festival of Archaeology Launch/ Lansio’r Ŵyl Archaeoleg

Powis Castle and Garden, Welshpool / 15 July

Join the Festival of Archaeology launch, in collaboration with the National Trust, with an excavation at Powis Castle in Wales. During the launch, the theme of ‘Archaeology and Creativity’ will be explored through arts and crafts, storytelling and poetry, walking tours, and even Restoration-era ‘horse racing’ on the castle’s terraced lawn. There will be opportunities for all ages to get creative with different activities throughout the day, and for visitors to meet groups from across the region who are involved in archaeology, heritage, and the arts.


Rendlesham Revealed: The Heart of a Kingdom AD 400-800 at Sutton Hoo

Sutton Hoo, Suffolk / Throughout the festival

Photo: Suffolk County Council

Visit the new exhibition Rendlesham Revealed, which tells the story of how Suffolk’s Anglo-Saxon royal settlement flourished for around 400 years (see CA 399). Some of the artefacts on display date from around 1,400 years ago, and many have never been on public display before. Artefacts include high-status gold and silver items, as well as everyday objects that can give visitors a glimpse into everyday Anglo-Saxon life.


Petuaria ReVisited Community Wellbeing Archaeological Dig

Brough on Humber, East Yorkshire / 15 – 30 July

Petuaria ReVisited Archaeological Dig is back for its fourth season. This is a fantastic opportunity to explore East Yorkshire’s archaeological past, and travel back in time to the Roman occupation of Britain. The excavation begins on 15 July, coinciding with Petuaria ReVisited’s Roman Festival, which visitors are welcome to attend. There may even be opportunities for members of the public to take part in the dig, if places are available. 

Photo: Petuaria ReVisited


Dating the Cerne Abbas Giant by Martin Papworth

Dorset Museum, Dorset / 20 July

Discover the archaeology of the Cerne Abbas Giant, a 55m-tall chalk hill-figure in Dorset, through this talk by National Trust archaeologist Martin Papworth. The lecture will cover recent research excavations at the monument, which involved the digging of trenches across the Giant’s elbows and feet (see CA 376). Material recovered through the investigations was then dated using optically stimulated luminescence (OSL for short), which produced some unexpected results. 


Festival of Archaeology Stourhead Youth Day

Stourhead, Wiltshire / 23 July 

CBA’s free Youth Leader Day is open to those working with children aged 8-17 years old. Join the dig to search for the lost site of Stourton Castle. Participants will learn how to undertake geophysical survey and expand their practical expertise in the field, as well as learning how to conserve existing buildings at the site. They will also take home a resource pack filled with activity ideas to undertake with their own youth groups.


Guided walk to Hardknott Fort and its Roman road

Jubilee Bridge, Cumbria / 29 July

Photo: National Trust

Follow trails made by the Roman army with this guided walk through Eskdale, led by one of the National Trust’s rangers. The route follows original Roman pathways through the landscape from Hardknott Pass to the fort. Interesting features to look out for include the only surviving example in England of a Roman parade ground. 


The Leicestershire and Rutland Festival of Archaeology

Leicestershire and Rutland / 1-30 July

Enjoy a range of activities and events at the Leicestershire and Rutland Festival of Archaeology, including exhibitions, heritage walks, and artefact-handling sessions. Highlights include a guided walk to the motte-and-bailey castle of Hallaton, a tour of Glenfield Railway Tunnel – one of the oldest in the world – and an artefact-handling session with one of the archaeologists who discovered the body of Richard III. 


Wanstone Rediscovered – archaeological excavation at Fan Bay

Wanstone, Kent / 13-16, 20-23 July

The Wanstone Rediscovered excavation is an exceptional opportunity to explore Dover’s military heritage first-hand. The 2023 project’s focus is investigating the entrance to subterranean magazines, alongside one of the six-inch gun emplacements at Fan Bay. This opportunity to visit the excavation is particularly rare, as the site is not usually open to members of the public.


Guided walks of Kilmartin Glen Monuments

Kilmartin Museum, Argyll / 12, 19, 26 July

Discover the sites of Kilmartin Glen with these volunteer-led walks. The routes will cover a range of regionally important sites, including the Linear Cairn cemetery, Nether Largie South Chambered Cairn, and Temple Wood Stone Circle. The walks are suitable for children accompanied by parents/guardians, with content aimed at participants aged 10 years old and upwards.


Festival of Archaeology Grand Greenwich Finale

Greenwich Park, London / 30 July

Raksha Dave, CBA president, archaeologist, and TV presenter, will join the Festival for the Grand Finale in Greenwich Park. Visitors can experience the rich history of the site through tours, storytelling, and poetry, taking them through the site’s past – from a Roman place of worship and Saxon burial ground to a Tudor hunting park and Restoration pleasure garden. 


Get Creative Heritage Trail  / Throughout the festival

This Heritage Trail takes visitors on a journey through York, highlighting heritage sites from the city’s distant past to the present day. The walk is focused around the theme of creativity, with a new prompt at each stop. Be inspired by the city’s culture and heritage sites to write a poem, complete a drawing, or devise a short story, which has a chance of being featured in a CBA blogspot if you post it to social media using the hashtag #creativitytrailyork.

An Evening with National Trust Archaeologists 2023 / 19 July

The evening will feature talks from archaeologists and heritage professionals, covering their different roles with the National Trust, as well as focusing on some of the sites that the organisation cares for. Ranging from the Changing Chalk partnership to the Beningbroughs Rediscovered project, there is a wealth of archaeology to uncover through this series of lectures. 

A Day in Archaeology / 27 July

Archaeologists, heritage professionals, students, and volunteers share blogposts showcasing ‘a day in the life’. The posts cover everything from how contributors first became interested in archaeology to how they developed their career paths, and what opportunities are available for anyone interested in archaeology and heritage. Blogposts will stay on the festival website all year round.

Further information: 
We have covered as many regions as space permitted, but if your area is not listed, please check www.archaeologyuk.org/festival.html for the latest information on activities local to you.