Experimental Archaeology: Learning about Technologies in the Past

Thanks to funding from Historic Environment Scotland and the Heritage Lottery Fund, ARCH launches its new exciting project ‘Experimental Archaeology: Learning about Technologies in the Past’. The project will have three main strands. In the first year, at least 13 experimental archaeology days will take place where craftsmen demonstrate and explain different technologies used in the past. The objects resulting from these workshops will then be used to create a loans box which will be freely available to borrow. In the second year, an archaeologist and teacher will work together to create learning materials, so that the loans box and videos of the experimental sessions can be used in schools and other groups. The project hopes to attract a wide and diverse audience.

The idea for the project emerged from North Kessock & District Local History Society’s Feats of Clay project, where ARCH helped facilitate a visit by Neil Burridge who demonstrated Bronze Age metalworking. Everyone in the audience was caught up in the excitement of the day, and learned so much about how objects were made, what raw materials were needed, and how craftsmen in the past managed without gauges and modern equipment.

For the first year there will be 13 workshops,  one a month, which will showcase a skill from the past, spanning from earliest settlers to more recent times. The workshops will be exciting to attend, but we will also film them and put the results online.

Events timetabled so far:

  • Green Woodworking
    Saturday, 28th October, 11-3, Dingwall Community Centre
    Lachlan McKeggie will will introduce green wood working skills, using lithic and metal tools.
  • Bronze Age Pottery
    Saturday 18th November, 11-3, Dingwall Community Centre
    Pat Gulliver will explore Bronze Age pottery techniques, especially on decorated beakers.
  • Textiles through the Ages
    Saturday 16th December, 11-3, Spectrum Centre, Farraline Park, Inverness
    Explore textiles through the ages with Lynne McKeggie.
  • Flint Knapping. 20 January, Inverness Library, 10-4:30. James Dilley from University of Southampton will show how prehistoric tools were made. For those wanting to have a go, see the ARCH website for details.
  • Lead seals and ropemaking. 17 February, Dingwall Library, 11-3. Lead seals provide evidence of the 18th & 19th century cloth trade to the Highlands. In this workshop Ian Hammond will show how lead seals and rope were made.
  • Bone working. 17 March, DINGWALL Library, 11-3. Jim Glazzard will show how various Iron Age bone objects were made, including pins, toggles and combs.
  • Carved Stone Balls. 21 April, Black Isle Showground, Muir of Ord, 11-3. Chris Gee will show how these enigmatic Neolithic stone objects were made.
  • Pictish Carved stones. 19 May, Black Isle Showground, Muir of Ord, 11-3. Sculptor Barry Grove who made the replica of the Hilton of Cadboll stone will demonstrate Pictish carving, and provide opportunities to have a go.
  • Bronze Age Metalworking. 23 June, Black Isle Showground, Muir of Ord, 11-3. In a summer solstice workshop, Neil Burridge from Cornwall will demonstrate the magic of bronze casting.
  • Telford Technology. 21 July, Inverness Library, 11-3. Thomas Telford revolutionised the Highlands in the early 1800s with his roads, bridges and churches. In this workshop John Fulton & Beth Kendell will explore some of his bridges and the technology behind them.
  • Viking Ring Money. 25 August, Black Isle Showground, Muir of Ord, 11-3. Jim Glazzard from Asgard Craft will show us how Viking silver armrings ('ring money') were made. Jim has extensive experience in making accurate silver replicas.
  • Medieval coinage. 15 September, Inverness Library, 11-3. Stuart Strong will demonstrate how medieval coins were made, with a chance for people to have a go.
  • Crafting Day. 6 October, Black Isle Showground, Muir of Ord, 11-3. As part of Highland Archaeology Festival we'll have a range of crafts on offer as a finale to the project.

All workshops are free. No booking necessary, just drop in. Children very welcome if accompanied by adults.

Events are being filmed, and edited extracts will be put up on YouTube. In the meantime, check out the blogs from the events.

If you would like to be kept informed of future workshops, contact ARCH at info@archhighland.org.uk or 077888 35466.




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Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands (ARCH), The Goods Shed, The Old Station, Strathpeffer, Ross-Shire, Scotland IV14 9DH
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