Friday, 30 September 2011

Flint and Pottery Courses at the Ancient Technology Centre, Cranborne

Ancient Technology Centre Courses
15 & 16th October 2011

Flint Knapping

Stone tool production reaches back over 2.5 million years and is the first visible archaeology.  This course will introduce the fundamental methods of shaping and working flint to produce tools and look at turning worked flint into composite tools such as arrows, axes, or sickles.

Three methods will be explored, hard hammer percussion, soft hammer percussion, and pressure flaking and their will be ample opportunity to knap flint under direct guidance from an experienced knapper.  Day two will provide an opportunity to work on a knapping project and explore the production of birch tar glues and sinew work for creating composite tools.

The course is run by Luke Winter, manager of the ATC and experimental archaeologist whose past research has centred on the replication of stone tools, their use in butchery tasks and what this tells us about human evolution and cultural development.

This course is designed for beginners and aims to develop a set of skills that can be improved with further practice.  The type of tool produced in this course depends entirely on individual skill.               £99.00 including longhouse stay.

Neolithic / Bronze age Pottery

Experience experimental archaeology first hand as make and fire Neolithic / Bronze age pottery Using  locally sourced clays with added traditional tempers we will make pots and decorate them using neolithic techniques.
On the first day we will start by preparing our own clay, grog / tempers then  build our own simple pots and the learn delicate art of  fire management. The fire will burn on into the evening and will be a great social event so bring an instrument, a story or experience as we tend the fire into the night.
On day two we will look at the success of our firing  and then concentrate on making beakers and urns using traditional techniques. As pots need a significant drying period participants can take their pots home to fire themselves or we can do it for you in a conventional Kiln.
Anna Hudson is an experienced potter, crafts person and artist who has worked with the centre for several years. Her experiences are many and varied and attention to detail second to none. 
£99.00 including longhouse stay.

To book your place call Pascale on 01725 517618 ……

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Forthcoming Talk on the Knowlton Prehistoric Landscape at Salisbury Museum

Lecture at Slaisbury and South Wiltshire Museum 11 Oct 2011 19:30
The Knowlton Prehistoric Landscape Project – We know a lot about Round Barrows don’t we?
“Round Barrows – That’s where Bronze Age people buried their dead init! Nuff said”. Factually correct, if a tad simplistic, but of course the potential for learning more about society from studying these monuments it could be argued is still in its infancy. The landscape of Cranborne Chase has been at the forefront of British prehistory and archaeology since the middle of the 19th century, it having one of the densest concentrations of prehistoric monuments in north-west Europe.

In 2003 John Gale embarked upon a seasonal campaign of excavations at the little known and apparently flattened barrow group at High Lea Farm near Hinton Martell north of Wimborne. The fieldwork was completed in 2009 and the analysis currently under way is discovering information which suggests that we still have a lot to learn about these ‘familiar’ monuments of the Wessex landscape.  

John will also be incorporating some early results of his recent survey work at the Clandon Barrow in west Dorset which has a bearing on the lecture title.

 A lecture in the Salisbury Museum Archaeology Lectures (SMAL) series. SMAL lectures are held on the second Tuesday of each month from September to April.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Coming Soon.. Exhibition by the Archaeologist Martin Green 'Out of the Earth' at Salisbury Museum 19th Oct onwards

Renowned potter Chris Carter and archaeologist Martin Green share their fascination with the prehistoric past of Cranborne Chase.  Through art and artefact, they reveal a story of the humans that occupied the landscape before history was written. The exhibition runs from the 22nd October to 14th January 2012 at Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum
Out of the Earth
Out of the Earth explores a dialogue between artist and archaeologist as they respond to the objects excavated from flint-rich soils of Cranborne Chase.  Artefacts from Martin’s own museum, which displays the finds he has discovered over the years, will be on display alongside Chris’s artwork and objects from Salisbury Museum and Wiltshire Heritage Museum.  Together, the objects describe and uncover the imprints left by farming, community and ritual activities in the past.

Chris and Martin describe themselves as ‘sons of the soil’, both having been raised on farms in the countrysides of Warwickshire and Dorset.  They met following a BBC4 radio show ‘Open Country’ which featured Down Farm on Cranborne Chase.  Martin had been excavating there since he inherited it in 1979 and Chris’s interest in the Chase landscape soon developed into a passion for exploring it through his art.

The exhibition shows new developments in Chris’s work and is itself a testimony to the continuing influence of prehistoric people on us today as their artistry, communities and ritual activities are re-discovered through archaeology.  Chris describes the way he searches for his pots in the clay as akin to the archaeologist’s search for an object in the earth.  Cranborne Chase has encouraged his art to take new routes which have seen him sculpting from flint and creating 2D collage works.  A deep-seated influence of the landscape and farming is apparent in his work; his pots suggest the sinuous twist of the plough and the symmetry of the stone axe, whilst the surface textures reflect the processes of people and nature on the landscape.

Both pot and artefact have a power and contemplative quality that makes Out of the Earth an exhibition not to be missed.  Here, the passion for the Cranborne landscape and for the people who lived on and moulded it, is deep-seated, inherent and heartfelt.  The stories revealed are told by two people who know the landscape intimately, both inside and out, and can tell those stories with an authority and understanding that cannot be disputed. 

Friday, 23 September 2011

Man Made Water Bodies are an important feature of the AONB as new guidance explains

There is evidence for relic water meadows stretching along the bottom of all the chalk river valleys in the AONB including bedworks, sluices and bridges. These provide evidence for the former crucial role of the sheep-corn system of agriculture in the AONB from AD 1600 to AD 1900.

Bedworks in former Water Meadow
The former use of water meadows and mills, and the creation of ponds and lakes have all had an impact on the landscape of the AONB seen today.

 Systems of fish ponds and small man-made lakes are associated with chalk rivers and river valley bottoms, many of these have Medieval origins, but some also forming modern heavily designed commercial fish farms. Man-made lakes are associated with the creation of 'formal' designed landscapes of the 18th and 19th century's, including Fonthill and the pleasure lake at Shearwater - these are much more common in the northern half of the AONB.

Former mill buildings,are scattered through the river valleys including remnants of water wheels, mill races and mill ponds in chalk river valleys. These all mark evidence of former exploitation of water power in the valleys.

There are several operational watercress beds in the AONB marking the remnants of a once much more thriving industry in the chalk river valleys.

There is some evidence for the manipulation of the chalk rivers' especially where they flow through settlements - here the chalk rivers are contained in stone sided channels and the houses are often located on the opposing bank to the historic routeways, each with an individual stone bridge. The villages are associated with historic 'river' crossing points, including fords and clapper bridges.

More information on the historic use of water of the AONB can be accessed by clicking here: Theme 12: Water in the Landscape.

If you are responsible for managing a historic man made water bodies English Heritage have published some useful guidance entitled Moats, Ponds and Ornamental Lakes in the Historic Environment

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Views, historic character and the AONB

View points and views are how many people appreciate the AONB in the past and today. English Heritage have published a useful guide entitle 'Seeing the History in the View' which helps to assess the historic significance of views. This  provides one way of valuing views within this AONB and further afield.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Grassland Trust has published Natures Tapestry, which highlights historic as well as natural importance of grasslands

This new document highlights the importance of grasslands for wildlife rich but as providing an irreplaceable link to understanding our long relationship with the land. This chimes with the AONB Historic Landscape Characterisation which has highlighted the historic importance of unimproved downland in the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Cranborne Chase Art on Show at Dorset County Museum in October

'Art in the Shadow of the Chase' is a free exhibition opening at Dorset County Museum, Dorchester on the 22nd October. Focusing on artists who have been inspired by the Cranborne Chase. The exhibition runs until 21st January 2012

"Cranborne: Art in the shadow of the Chase" is a ground-breaking exhibition about the artists who over the last hundred years have found in Cranborne Chase and its hinterland a landscape of ‘bare bone’ beauty and retreat.

The paintings, drawings, sculpture and other artwork  in the exhibition have come from a variety of sources, and range from early neo-romantic work of the 1920s to contemporary work specially made for this exhibition. The list of artists is extensive and includes painters: John Craxton, members of the Nicholson family (Winifred, Ben, E.Q., Tim), Lucian Freud, Derek Hill, Augustus John, Henry Lamb, Katharine Church (Kitty West),  Frances Hodgkins, Nora, Amy and Gabriel Summers, James Allardyce, Peggy Rankin, Christopher Row, Mavis Freer, Ursula Leach, Brian Graham, John Hubbard, Paul Jones, Howard Pearce and John Hitchens. There is also sculpture by Elisabeth Frink, Peter Thursby, Ian Middleton and Ann Catherine Row; pottery by Richard Batterham, Chris Carter, Lucy Yarwood and Leonie Summers; glass by Joseph A. Nuttgens and  textile rugs by Louisa Creed and Rod Hill.

In spite of all the changes which have occurred in the last hundred years with increasing urbanisation of the countryside, the Chase has remained topographically intact. It is still a breath taking landscape, an area of outstanding beauty, sparsely populated with large estates small hamlets and villages. It remains an ‘island’, a place apart, and it is this isolation, along with its unique landscape which continues to attract artists today. Like threads of  a mycelium there continues to be  connections between places, painters and their art. Pulling together the work of artists from the recent past and some of those working today, the exhibition will affirm the special qualities of Cranborne Chase and its hinterland and demonstrate that it retains the power to inspire artistic creativity and new progressive art. 

The exhibition is to be accompanied by a richly-illustrated publication Circles _and Tangents :  Art in the shadow of Cranborne Chase, _written by curator, author and artist Vivienne Light FRSA.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Black Country produces animated Historic Landscape Characterisation

Following the publication of a review of HLC results online. Black Country Archaeology Service have experimeneted with producing an animation of the development of land-use in the Black Country based on their HLC.  If you are interested their efforts are available from the 'Distinictly Black Country Website'.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

English Heritage produces a review of Historic Landscape Characterisation on the web

Earlier this year, Wolverhampton City Council carried out a rapid review for English Heritage of the current availability of Historic Landscape Characterisation material on the web. The report is now available on line at

The report provides a state of the moment description of how many of the 40 HLCs that are complete have results available on line and in what form; it also includes a list of web links. The review also tapped into a rich layer of enthusiasm within local authorities and AONBs for making HLC results more widely available to a broader public. This enables the report to look ahead to ways in which the present level of access can be improved.

The Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs AONB Historic Landscape Website is held up as an example of best practice in this document

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Day School on Vernacular Architecture Saturday 29th October 2011

The Wiltshire Buildings Record has organised a day school entitled 'The Kitchen: The Heart of the Home From Medieval to Victorian - the development of kitchens and service rooms through the ages'
Market Lavington Community Hall, St Mary’s Rd, Market Lavington, Devizes, SN10 4DG (modern facilities and ample parking)

This will be held on Saturday 29th October 2011, 10.30-1630 (10.00 coffee) at

John Broad (University of Cambridge)
Detached kitchens
Pam Slocombe (Author of “Wiltshire Farmhouses and Cottages”)
Malting, brewing & dairying in Wiltshire houses
David Clark (President of the Vernacular Architecture Group,
Secretary Oxfordshire Buildings Record)
Service rooms of Oxfordshire
Kathryn Ferry (Author of “The Victorian Home”)
Below stairs - the Victorian Kitchen

Tickets are £12.50, WBR Members, Students and Senior Citizens £10.00
Available from Wiltshire Buildings Record (Day Course),
Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Cocklebury Road,
Chippenham, Wilts, SN15 3QN.
Telephone 01249 705508

Friday, 16 September 2011

Dorset Manorial Register to be launched 29th September 2011 Dorset History Centre

The Dorset History Centre is launching the Dorset Manorial Documents Register on the 29th September 2011 at the Dorset History Centre.

This is the official register of manorial documents for England and Wales and enables researches to locale manorial documents acorss the county. The manorial record for Dorset has been revised and is available through the National Archives website.

The history centre has also produced a Manorial Documents Guide and an online Educational Resource Pack for schools.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Wiltshire Buildings Record guided tour of Salisbury 17th September 2011

Wiltshire Buildings Record is holding a guided tour of selected buildings in the area of the market place Salisbury. Our guide is Gerald Steer, WBR member and local architect who has been actively involved in the restoration a number of medieval buildings in Salisbury. This is an excellent opportunity to get behind the façade and understand how these buildings and the area in the vicinity of the market place, has evolved. Contact Dorothy Treasure at the Wiltshire Buildings Record for more information.

AONB Project mentioned in English Heritage Review

The Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs AONB Historic Environment Action Plan project forms part of a review by English Heritage called 'IMPACT, the English Heritage Historic Environment Commissions Report for 2007-10. ' For the first time this report covers projects funded under the Historic Environment Enabling Programme (HEEP) and the Aggregate Levy Sustainability fund (ALSF).

The projects that  English Heritage enabled through grants from these programmes delivered understanding of the past, and encourage dpeople to value, care for, and enjoy their historic environment.  In financial years 2007-10 they distributed c£19 m on projects commissioned against national priorities in support of SHAPE English Heritage’s Strategic framework for Historic environment Activities and Programmes.  

Visit a 'living' Medieval Village at the Cranborne Chase Woodfair 8th/9th October

The Cranborne Chase Woodfair is celebration of the historic woodlands of the area and the associated crafts and industries that it represents. From timeless crafts to contemporary designs; from modern day forestry techniques to the demonstration of a range of practical rural skills, there is something for everyone. It is being held on the 8th and 9th October 2011 at the Cranborne Chase Woodfair.

In order to celebrate 30 years of the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and also the culmination of our Historic Landscape project, Regia Anglorum will be re-enacting what life would have been like living and working on the Cranborne Chase. It will also be a demonstration of why the Cranborne Chase is famous worldwide for being a medieval hunting forest.
'We are not purely a combat society and have come a long way from the old hack and bash image associated with many re-enactment societies. There is always a certain glory to be found in recreating and reliving famous and the not-so-famous battles of times past - but they are not the sum total of history. They are specific points in time which were interspersed by long periods where the people living then, got on with their normal existence which is equally fascinating. In this way, we are not in fact just a 're-enactment' group, but a 'living history society'.
Come back with us to 1086 and see us demonstrate the changing fashions of the times, and see how people living then, got on with their normal lives.

Explore our medieval village where you can find out more about the life and times of Medieval Britain. Regia hopes to inject some reality into these once everyday activities. Whilst this can include getting cold, wet and reeking of wood smoke, just sitting around the campfire with your friends is an atmospheric experience in itself, which we hope brings the 11th century back to life for you.