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Digging up Kent’s Past: 7 Ways to Get Involved in the Festival of Archaeology


Organised by the Council for British Archaeology, the Festival of Archaeology is designed to showcase the very best of archaeology to the British public. The theme for 2019 is archaeology, science and technology, or #ArchaeoTech.

The festival encourages you to explore archaeology in your local area by watching experts at work, taking part in activities and enjoying talks and tours about the latest discoveries in the field. With living history re-enactments, food tasting, mini-excavations and much more taking place across the country, we’ve dug up the best events in Kent for you to get involved in!

1) Maidstone Museum Festival of Archaeology

Taking place on Saturday 13th July, Maidstone Museum is celebrating the Festival of Archaeology with a hands-on interactive experience – dig up a real archaeological find and follow the trail to claim your prize! Bring along the family and have a go at creating your own cropmark, handle historical objects found in and around Maidstone and meet the people of the past. You can even bring your own object in for identification! 

There will also be 3 free talks running throughout the day which must be booked in advance. You can book your tickets on the Maidstone Museum website.

Museum entry is free although some activities will have a small charge. 

2) Canterbury Cathedral Graffiti Tours

Step back in time in the grand Canterbury Cathedral and explore the historic graffiti etched into its walls. The afterhours tours will be led by the Graffiti Researcher volunteer team who will shed light (literally and figuratively!) on the historic markings. 

Tickets cost £4 and tours will last 45 minutes.

3) Hunting for the Kings Manor in the Kings Little Town, Faversham 

This year, the Faversham Society Archaeological Research Group invite you to join them as they hunt for the Kings Manor in a town described as the ‘Kings little town of Febersham’ in a document from 811 AD! 

In 2018, the team discovered and excavated a large pit full of early Saxon objects and remains. This year, work will continue in the area around this site with finds processing taking place on site. 

Contact the event organiser for more information.

4) A Southborough Corn Mill Site, Tunbridge Wells

An impressive 19th century brick railway viaduct passes over 16th century forges and 18th – 20th century gunpowder and corn mills in the Southborough Valley. During the Festival of Archaeology, the remains of the final corn mill on the site will be excavated and visitors will be able to see the team at work. 

This event does not require booking and is free of charge. 

5) Ancient Egyptian Object Handling at Chiddingstone Castle

Get hands on at Chiddingstone Castle at one of the drop-in Ancient Egyptian object handling sessions on 7th July! Join the Castle’s curator and special guest Tom Hardwick from Houston Museum of Natural Sciences USA to handle objects from the Castle’s collection and learn about Ancient Egyptian life.

Object handling is included with standard admission price.

6) Family Monday at Knole, Sevenoaks

Join the team at the spectacular Knole House on 29th July to celebrate the Festival of Archaeology! Visitors will see some of the artefacts found during the major conservation project undertaken by Knole’s archaeology volunteer team. Children will be able to dress up as an archaeologist for a photo and take part in activities such as colouring in and making mosaics.

The event will take place in Green Court and costs £2 per child. 

7) Community Dig and 70th Anniversary Celebration at Lullingstone Roman Villa

In celebration of 70 years since Lullingstone Roman Villa was originally excavated, a community excavation and related activities are set to take place this July. Members of the public can sign-up and take part in the memorable event, meaning you can get hands-on with washing and processing finds, as well as helping to dig! Children’s activities will also be available, alongside a special exhibit on the original 1949-1961 excavation of the villa and talks and tours. 

If you are interested in signing up to help with this event, visit the DVLPS website. Normal entry fees to the villa will apply although there will be no associated fee for the community excavation.

In the mood for more history? Make sure you check out our Top 3 Free Museums in Kent to explore Kent’s fascinating past free of charge!

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