I was thrilled to return to the Festival of Archaeology this year. With a host of guest speakers and activities as well as a few familiar faces, even those without any knowledge of archaeology were aware of the passion of those around them. From the Wessex Archaeology and English Heritage tents to archery and Lego sphinxes, there was something everyone could enjoy. This year there was the new addition of Dr Phil Harding digging a small trench over the weekend, which I was particularly looking forward to.
Saturday’s weather was perfect for the occasion, although those who spent the day in full armour may not agree with me! The Egyptology talks were a particular highlight, especially as they linked with the museum’s current touring exhibition. Professor Richard Parkinson discussed the golden age of ancient Egypt in relation to its poetry and writings with Dr Toby Wilkinson focusing on some of their most famous figures, such as Tutankhamun and Cleopatra. It was wonderful to see so many people attending these talks and the others throughout the day.
Sunday’s lectures were equally fascinating, with the Viking talk being particularly interesting. Steve Wallis’ discovery of the Ridgeway Viking Mass Burial was intriguing and a site that I had not heard about before.
Phil’s talk, ‘Have you found anything yet?’, was extremely well received. Both humorous and informative, it was amazing how much information could be deduced from such a small area. I also now know the correct way to use a spade! The festival’s talks ended with a panel discussion hosted by Mike Pitts. The varied presentations were highly interesting but the audience discussion that followed was particularly enlightening. It was great to see so many people get involved and query the archaeologists to such an extent.
Even with all the brilliant talks and activities, my favourite aspect of the festival was seeing the visitors explore what was on offer; engaging with those in costume and quizzing the guest speakers. There was such a wonderful atmosphere and I’m already looking forward to next year. Thank you to all those who attended and volunteered on the day for making the event such a success.