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Festival of Archaeology at Stourhead

Children taking part in Dig for History, an archaeology day, at Sutton Hoo, Suffolk
Children taking part in a dig | © National Trust Images/John Millar

From 16-30 July, Stourhead will celebrate the Festival of Archaeology with a dig for the mysterious Stourton Castle and plenty of medieval merriment for all the family.

What is the Festival of Archaeology?

The UK’s biggest annual celebration of archaeology, running between 16 and 30 July 2023. Delve into the world of archaeology here at Stourhead - there's something for all the family. All events are free, normal admission applies.

Dig for Stourton Castle

Before Stourhead House, a great medieval mansion stood on the site - but no trace of it has ever been found. Archaeologists are set to dig on the hunt for Stourton Castle - there will be live surveys and excavations revealing secrets from the past, and exhibitions showcasing finds from historic and current digs.

17-28 July, 10am - 4pm.

Children’s pottery making

A professional potter will show children to make medieval ‘Witch Pots’ or other pottery making. ‘Witch Pots’ were made and placed in houses during medieval times to ward away the mischievous activities of witches. This demonstration captures children's imagination through art and design.

Saturday 22 July, 10am - 4pm.

Medieval paper making, and calligraphy and quills

An informative demonstration of medieval papermaking, and a fascinating series of demonstrations in which a medieval scribe will use traditional quills and styles of writing. Medieval papermaking will use traditional methods and materials of the period, as well as demonstrations of traditional quills and styles of writing and the opportunity for visitors to write their names.

Sunday 23 July, 10am - 4pm.

Dyeing workshop

Discover medieval dyeing and the different dyes that were used and traded during the period. There will also be the opportunity for children to have a go at dying pieces of cloth during the day and taking home their examples.

Monday 24 July, 10am - 4pm.

Pomander making and dancing workshop for children

Make and take home your own medieval pomander, a traditional ball made for perfumes, and join a fun activity for children to learn medieval Dance.

Tuesday 25 July, 10am - 4pm.

The Tales of Robin Hood puppet show

Join Robin and his Merry Men and be swept away in the adventure as dynamic puppetry and colourful acting bring this much-loved tale to life. With comedy and adventure the Tales of Robin Hood is a quiver-full of fun for both young and old alike. Three half hour shows take place throughout the day.

Wednesday 26 July at 11 - 11.30am, 1 - 1.30pm and 3 - 3.30pm.

Gargoyle and dragon making

A great activity for children to make period gargoyles or dragons out of clay using design and technology. Children can use their imaginations to create their own gargoyles and mythical creatures, and take home the results of their labours during the day.

Thursday 27 July, 10am - 4pm.

‘Have a go’ archery

Join two train medieval archers and have a go at the exciting skill. The archery area and event will include bows and arrows and allow visitors to try the skill during the day.

Friday 28 July, 10am - 4pm.

Medieval encampment

Across the final weekend of the Festival of Archaeology, the medieval encampment will give visitors a unique insight into 11th and 14th Century medieval life with living history demonstrations. Knights will illustrate combat of the period, discover about health and disease from the medieval surgeon, and learn about cooking using herbs, vegetables and ingredients used in medieval times.

Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 July, 10.30am - 4.30pm.

Boy trying archery at the Medieval Festival at Tattershall Castle, Lincolnshire
Boy trying archery | © National Trust Images/Paul Harris

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