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Salisbury Museum’s Festival of Archaeology was truly magical this year. More than six hundred braved the heat (and other distractions) on Saturday and more than seven hundred on Sunday.

Tim Lowe (1)

Actor Tim Lowe and a scale model tank loaned by Richard Osgood

Memories include the little girl who came away from one of Tim Lowe’s presentations about WWI and said “The soldiers didn’t want to be there did they Mummy?”


Richard Osgood

Also memorable was Richard Osgood, DIO (Ministry of Defence) Senior Historic advisor, TV archaeologist and writer, who shared moving accounts of the work they do with army veterans struggling with PTSD. Operation Nightingale is the programme using archaeology to aid in the recovery of soldiers who are sick, wounded or were injured on operations in Afghanistan.


Work by Stratford sub Castle CE Primary pupils

The Meetings Room was full of fascinating material relating to the Old Sarum Landscapes Project run by The University of Southampton and University of Swansea (more on this next week). But there was also a delightful display of artwork by Volunteers, U of Southampton students and pupils from Stratford sub Castle CE Primary School. The art work is all part of the Project and continues in the museum this week.

FOA 2018 BT (1)


We have a growing audience of children at our Festivals and this year was no exception. Kate, of Wiltshire Scrapstore, an award winning environmental and community charity providing activities for children (they now have an establishment at Wilton!), worked heroically single-handed with hundreds of little ones. Model tanks were the popular choice of the day (see photo above).

FOA 2018 BT (2)

Wessex Archaeology had them digging…

Tim Lowe (3)

Rapt audiences of children and adults were moved by Tim’s stories of WWI.

FOA 2018 Phil and AG

Phil Harding dug while Museum Director Adrian Green looked on. “How does he do it so neatly?” asked one passer-by. Years of practice I think!


Wiltshire Museum (Devizes) and the Wessex Partnership were producing counterfeit coins – well, copies, anyway – beautiful reproductions of Iron Age staters, hammered, just as the real ones were two thousand years ago. Many proud youngsters also walked out wearing small diamond shaped decorated gold plaques made with foil. Brilliantly effective.

Salisbury Cathedral Education, and representatives from Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage site were also providing opportunities for children to have hands on experiences, as were, of course, The Companions of the Longbow (always popular – those bows and arrows!) and the College of Chivalry where calligraphy could be tried with real quill pens.



One tiny tot fell in love with Lucy (that’s the Dorset Regiment’s lorry) and couldn’t be dragged away. Proud owner Colin had been fixing its brakes around midnight the night before..!


Clarendon Palace

Friends of Clarendon Palace are old friends of ours and reported that there were so many visitors to their stand that they were afraid they hadn’t spoken to them all!

There was barbecue and Pimms, thanks to the Museum Cafe (and some great chocolate cake!), singers sang, Hadrian Cook of the Watermeadows Trust was there (I think we could all have done with a paddle), Romilly, of the Outside, valiantly kept spinning her wools in all that heat while we talked about 1976 and the possibility of a rain dance, and English Heritage kept buildng and rebuilding Stonehenge while being watched by giant photos of the Chubbs, who made it all possible (if you don’t know the story, click here).

The speakers were excellent, and such good value, and generous in many ways. Some had come a long way too – thank you to you all.


Nicola Ford


LD images

Lindsay Davis

We even had novelists. Nicola Ford was here, signing copies of her new book and Lindsay Davis (she of Falco and Flavia Albia) made us laugh – a relaxed and engaging speaker.

A very good time was had…..