Consuming Prehistory: Feeding Stonehenge

Changing attitudes to food. Opening access to the past.

Archaeologists from Cardiff University, the University of York and English Heritage collaborate to explore the food consumed by the masses who constructed the world heritage site, Stonehenge. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Consuming Prehistory gives people a taste of the past. The project brings to life recent findings about our ancestors’ food preparation and consumption, which have been unearthed in the Feeding Stonehenge Project.

Food is central to all our lives, forming the structure of our days and lying at the heart of many social events. At the same time, food is the focus of many health concerns, with advice on the quality, quantity, type and source of food never far from the front page or the screen. This project taps into this public appetite for all things edible by providing a prehistoric perspective on how foods were treated (acquired, prepared and consumed) in Neolithic Britain.

Consuming Prehistory complemented the FEAST! exhibition at the Stonehenge Visitor Centre, revealing:

  • What did our Neolithic ancestors actually eat, and how did they prepare and cook?
  • Just how far did people travel to build or to gather at Stonehenge?
  • How did they manage to source food for such large numbers of people?

The project created a series of interactive tailored to accompany this exhibition, at the Stonehenge site and far beyond. These events explored in detail food and feasting at the time of Stonehenge, but then situated this famous site this within its wider context. Led by us here at Guerilla Archaeology, the activities were tailored to each setting and were taken on tour around Britain. The events included working with community groups local to Stonehenge, delivering a “Big Feast Weekend” at Stonehenge itself, and touring large music, arts, and science festivals such as Green Man Festival and New Scientist Live. This took prehistoric food and archaeology to new and non-traditional audiences in 2018 and 2019, with the popularity of the activities resulting in them being repeated at some festivals multiple years in a row. We have also continued to explore activities in virtual forms in 2020, including sharing our educational resources.

Follow our pages and blog posts here to learn more about our activities and findings. We hope you have an appetite for the past!