Festival encourages people to get hands-on with the past on Hadrian’s Wall!

Romans & Barbarians battle re-enactment

Festival encourages people to get hands-on with the past on Hadrian’s Wall!

To celebrate the annual Festival of Archaeology 2016, which kicks off on Saturday 16 July, visitor attractions along Hadrian’s Wall are launching a range of fun-packed events for people of all ages to get hands-on with the past this summer.

From Arbeia Roman Fort and Museum in South Shields all the way to Senhouse Roman Museum in Maryport and everywhere in between, museums, heritage sites, local heritage bodies and Northumberland National Park are hosting activities designed to bring the remarkable history and heritage of Hadrian’s Wall UNESCO World Heritage Site to life.

James Fell, Chair of the Hadrian’s Wall Marketing Partnership, said: “The national Festival of Archaeology is a great launch pad for members of The Hadrian’s Wall Partnership to unveil a summer of events taking place between July and September which are jam-packed with hundreds of activities spanning the length and breadth of Hadrian’s Wall.

Roman Cavalry strap fitment excavated at Vindolanda.jpg

Roman cavalry strap fitment found at Vindolanda
Roman cavalry strap fitment found at Vindolanda
“The Wall marked the northern boundary of the Roman Empire for nearly 400 years and draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to the North of England every year. With the summer holidays rapidly approaching we’re keen to encourage as many people as possible to take the opportunity to learn about and explore this special monument.

“Visitors can watch experts at work and experience archaeology for themselves by taking part in everything from mini-archaeological digs to watching Roman re-enactments, enjoying museum open days and taking part in expert-led guided walks to give the whole family an opportunity to have fun and experience the exciting history of Hadrian’s Wall in action.”

To help inspire visitors to make the most of Hadrian’s Wall this summer here are a few examples to give you a little flavour for what’s on.  

  • Visit Birdoswald Roman Fort and see if the kids have got what it takes to be a Roman Soldier! Take part in a variety of hands-on activities including games and drills this summer, hear about Roman life as a soldier and a citizen, try on costumes and handle Roman weapons and artefacts.
  • Be an archaeology detective! Let the kids get stuck into history with the chance to uncover clues and handle artefacts. Take part in a sand pit dig to unveil secrets from the the time of King Arthur! There’s also plenty more to keep mini detectives busy, including colouring and games to dressing up, sword skills, armour handling, storytelling and hands-on excavation!
  • The Vindolanda Trust excavations run on weekdays throughout the summer holidays. Nothing beats the thrill of a new artefact being unearthed!
  • Head to Carlisle Castle and meet the kings and queens of England including Henry II, Richard III and Mary Queen of Scots. Every weekend costumed actors will help you step back in time with tales of the long and turbulent history of the castle. 
  • Dig it with the family at Segedunum Roman Fort! Have a go and discover more about the role of archaeology in unlocking the mysteries of the past in a day of hands-on activities for families. Take part in a mock-up dig, join a tour of the site, handle real Roman objects or make something Roman to take away.
  • Gladiator Schools! Ever wanted to be Spartacus for the day, fighting off fierce lions or sword-wielding warriors? Now is your chance. Learn about the basics of hand-to-hand combat, train hard and discover Imperial Rome's gladiator games in an exciting school for would be Gladiators at Segedunum and Aberia Roman Forts.
  • If you’re a budding archaeologist why not visit the Great North Museum: Hancock and take part in a hidden gems trail which highlights some of the best artefacts in the museum’s archaeology collection. 
  • Hadrian's Wall Live is returning to Birdoswald Roman Fort this year with a large-scale Roman battle when the Roman army will take on Barbarians, Roman falconry displays, gladiator shows, kids' sword drills and theatre performances. 
  • Northumberland National Park is hosting various guided walks throughout the summer for visitors to follow in the footsteps of the Roman legions on the Wall. Visitors can also visit the Mansio, a mobile contemporary teahouse and reading room inspired by the original Roman mansios at Walltown Quarry & Country Park from 25 – 31st July 2016. Other events include ‘storyteller Jim’, a long-time native of Northumberland who tells listeners tales about the history and landscape of this beautiful and turbulent region. The Mansio is a contemporary structure celebrating new work from writers, artists and thinkers.
  • Chesters Roman Fort plays host to the Roman Cavalry in August. You can meet fast-paced cavalry warriors with their unique and ancient weapons, witness awe-inspiring drills and little Roman soldiers can even mount their own fast-paced Roman-hobby horses! 
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