Home of Hillforts and Henges

June 22, 2022

Home of the Hillforts and Henges

Home of Hillforts and Henges is an exciting new event from 21st to 31st July that will celebrate Dorchester’s neolithic and iron age landscape, rich in earthworks and the people that have lived here for over 6,000 years.

The event is part of the National CBA Festival of Archaeology 2022 and activities will take place at multiple locations across the town. It will launch at Dorset Museum with a special open evening and a talk on the Ridgeway Vikings. An action-packed programme will include a series of lectures at Dorset Museum and a new archaeological dig at National Trust’s Max Gate with Meet the Archaeologist sessions. There will be guided walks over the landscape (including Maiden Castle), antiquities handling and family crafts at Dorset Museum at weekends.

The event concludes with an epic day of discovery and fun at Maumbury Rings with Hengefest on Sunday, 31st July where there will be animal handling, bushcraft, storytelling, nature crafts, music, performers and other activities that celebrate the sacred history of the space and its vibrant history.

The open countryside around Dorchester contains many ancient scheduled monuments and falls within the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (DAONB).  As well as demonstrating pride in our ancient heritage, Home of Hillforts & Henges aims to promote wellbeing and good mental health through appreciation and enjoyment of local nature.

Dorchester Town Council Tourism Development Officer, Matilda Manley, said: “Dorchester is a very special place, not many towns can boast two iron age hillforts and three neolithic henges! These are fantastic features of our town that we should be celebrating, and it is great that we are now doing that. Maiden Castle is one of the biggest hillforts in Europe! Maumbury Rings has such an amazing history, starting as a sacred henge and then being adopted by Romans for use as an amphitheatre. It is a great space that is still used and loved. It is brilliant to be celebrating its history and importance to the town today”

With grateful thanks to our headline sponsors, Kingston Maurward and Dorchester Town Council.

Festival of Archaeology 2022

Festival of Archaeology: Talk

21 July 2022, 7:00pm - 8:00pm

The Ridgeway Vikings: New research and findings | Heather Tamminen

Using modern digital technology, the sharp force of trauma on these individuals has been reappraised to see what new information can be learned. Bournemouth University’s Heather Tamminen will show how this technology has been able to refine the interpretations of the events that occurred and have added to the narrative of dramatic events that took place on the Ridgeway ten centuries ago.

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Festival of Archaeology: Talk

22 July 2022, 7:00pm - 8:00pm

The Extraordinary Prehistoric Landscape Under Your Feet And Up The Hills | Steve Wallis

In this talk Steve Wallis is to explore the prehistoric landscape of the Dorchester area, covering the changes over time and the different types of monuments and remains.

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Festival of Archaeology: Family Activity

23 July 2022, 10:00am - 12noon

Viking Print Making Workshop

Learn how to make Viking inspired prints using lino cutting to create your name and initials in runic writing, all materials and tools provided. Participants will leave with a Runic initial keyring and a print of their name.

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Festival of Archaeology: Talk

25 July 2022, 7:00pm - 8:00pm

The Magic and Myth of Watermeadows | Dr Kathy Stearne

The origins of water meadows are lost in medieval times. Surface water irrigation expanded in Wessex and throughout England from the sixteenth century and was a sustainable intensive integrated agricultural system until the twentieth century. This talk looks at the origins of water meadows in England.

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Festival of Archaeology: Talk

26 July 2022, 7:00pm - 8:00pm

The Durotriges Project | Paul Cheetham

Of all the Iron Age tribes identified from pre-Roman Britain, the Durotriges are the most culturally distinct. Roughly occupying an area that equates with modern Dorset, together with significant parts of southern Wiltshire and south-eastern Somerset, the pottery, coinage, settlements and burial practices of the Durotriges clearly marks them out from their contemporary tribal neighbours the Atrebates, Belgae, Dumnonii and Dobunni.

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Festival of Archaeology: Talk

27 July 2022, 7:00pm - 8:00pm

VIP Archaeology: From the Neolithic to the Medieval, the archaeology of the Dorset Visual Impact Provision | John Boothroyd

Working on behalf of National Grid on its Dorset Visual Impact Provision (VIP) just outside Dorchester, a team of more than 25 archaeologists spent almost two years excavating and recording a wealth of evidence for human activity dating back 6000 years.

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Festival of Archaeology: Talk

28 July 2022, 7:00pm

‘Anciently a manor’: the medieval manor at Lower Putton Lane, Chickerell | Dr Clare Randall

Join Dr Clare Randall to find out more about the findings from excavations at Lower Putton Lane carried out by Context One Heritage and Archaeology during 2016–2017 revealed a significant part of a manorial settlement.

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Special Exhibition

28 May – 30 October 2022

Take a fresh look at the Victorian novelist and poet, Thomas Hardy, in the stunning Wessex landscapes that shaped his view of the world. His story will be retold in exciting new ways by our museum collections, from period costumes to personal letters, art to archaeology.

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17 June - 11 July 2022, 10:00am - 1:00pm

Hardy’s Wessex: Drawing on the ancient past

This six-week course led by artist Helen Garrett will take you on a creative journey through Thomas Hardy’s work, inspirations and Dorset Museum’s collections.

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