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.
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?”
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.
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.
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).
Wessex Archaeology had them digging…
Rapt audiences of children and adults were moved by Tim’s stories of WWI.
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..!
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.
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…..
The place, the crowds, the children, the Salisbury Museum Team, the exhibitors, the superb speakers, the Volunteers, the musicians, the Museum Cafe. Old friends and new.
An email from one of our exhibitors:
Just to say thank you … for another great weekend. Amazingly busy we thought. Having convinced ourselves that people would stay away because of the heat, we were proved to be totally wrong… Everyone involved on the stand thoroughly enjoyed themselves, whether it was for the full day or only a couple of hours to give others a break. At times we couldn’t manage to speak to everyone, because there were just too many people round the stand.
Can you pass our thanks on to Val (Museum Housekeeper and general Wonder Woman), who helped get the gazebo erected Friday afternoon, and magically conjured up two tables ready and waiting for me on Saturday morning. Very much appreciated. As for the Mobile Canteeners (Volunteers) , what a fabulous job they did, on their feet all day, loaded up with drinks, flasks etc and very little respite from the sun. They definitely deserve a Mention in Dispatches!
Thank you everyone.
You will have heard that we have a plan to leaflet the public during the school holidays. A timetable has gone up in the Volunteer cloakroom and we need Volunteers to join in please.
The plan is for a Volunteer to be at St Ann’s Gate and another at the High Street Gate every day between Monday 30 July and Friday 31 August. There are two shifts, one from about 11am – noon, the other from about 1.30pm – 2.30pm (a little earlier or later is fine).
The timetable is in the Volunteer cloakroom. Please sign up if you can spare an hour.
YOU DO NOT NEED TO SIGN IN AT RECEPTION, just take a basket of flyers (they are rolled like little scrolls) and make sure you tell your customers that they offer a free drink at the cafe. Lucky recipients may even get an offer of a glass of wine or cream tea!
Please return basket and badge at the end of your shift.
Our successful Festival of Archaeology shows we can beat Salisbury’s bad patch, if we work at it.
An unsolicited recommendation from one of our Volunteers:
“The Café at Salisbury Museum is an ideal venue for meeting friends and enjoying good beverages, cakes, etc, either before or after visiting the amazing Museum.
I wish the new franchisee all the very best with their venture.
Hope to see you soon!”