Festivals 2015

This year Guerilla Archaeology had everyone from school kids to pensioners getting involved with archaeology across the breadth of Britain.

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Colour in your own Day of the Dead masks

At festivals that ranged from the newly created Lunar, near Birmingham, to the well-established Glastonbury, to a Cadw-led solstice celebration, from running wild at Wilderness to going green at Green Man, Guerilla Archaeologists interacted face-to-face with over 3000 people getting them to create, reflect, discuss and debate their relationship with the past, present and the future.

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Reading the bones: explaining how we delve into the lives of the dead through their skeletal remains

Participants took part in activates that saw them voting on the treatment of human remains, creating fantasy funerals, making Bronze Age jewellery, carving Viking antler rings, reflecting on the relevance of megalithic monuments and counting the dead.

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Beautiful Rings, made by the public and decorated by us

GA operates as a loose collective of staff, students, artists and others who come together to decide themes and design workshops. The events are delivered, mostly as drop-in or short booked events (up to 2 hours), for a duration of between three and five days.

Our very popular creative workshops
Our very popular creative workshops

GA staff are provided with training in public engagement and resources prior to the event.  This year the workshops provided training and experience for 16 students and gave them the opportunity to hone their knowledge and to present some of their own research (e.g. undergraduate experimental archaeology and postgraduate research into monuments and landscapes).

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Counting the dead. We ‘buried’ mini skeletons and got folk to work out how many people were in our Neolithic tomb. The tomb was based on a local monument.

The GA themed workshops, at Lunar, Bryn Celli Ddu (Anglesey), Glastonbury, Wilderness (Oxfordshire) and Green Man (Crickhowell) focused on recent research undertaken by Guerilla Archaeologists; from isotopic analysis of pigs at Stonehenge (Madgwick and Mulville, 2015a, 2015b), to mummification, deer DNA (Mulville, forthcoming), experimental archaeology (Dennis and Sharples, forthcoming) to Neolithic tombs (Whittle 2010) and monuments (Greary in prep).

Celebrating the solstice @Bryn Celli Ddu
Celebrating the solstice @Bryn Celli Ddu

GA activities also encourage people to engage with contemporary issues such as the repatriation and reburial of human remains, the history of the mobility and migration of communities and expressions of ethnic identity.

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‘Do you think human remains should be displayed in museums?’ Yes – red, No – black, unsure – a mixture of both

GA generated interest via social and traditional media with Dr Mulville publishing a piece in the ‘The Conversation’ on Glastonbury and presenting a Society of Antiquaries Rhind Lecture on Storytelling.

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Watching the Dali Lama. Stones as viewpoints at Glastonbury.

Evaluation indicated that interacting with GA increased the level of understanding, interest and appreciation of archaeological research and its relevance to contemporary society. Participants commonly express surprise at how diverse, insightful and interesting our exploration of the past is. Audiences were spread across the age group, ranging from 2 to 75 year olds, the core audience tended towards those between 21 and 45, and varied according to the festival demographic.

Day of the Dead
Day of the Dead

Participants are also highly engaged with the emergence of new scientific techniques as well as the hands-on nature of experimental archaeology.

Exploring movement and migration, today and in the past. Archaeologists can use the makeup of bones and teething geolocate folk.
Exploring movement and migration, today and in the past. Archaeologists can use the makeup of bones and teeth to geolocate folk.

Workshops developed by GA now form part of our undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, both in delivering particular research themes e.g. death and commemoration and in providing case studies and training for the Heritage Communication module.

Last but not least a huge thank you to all our hard working volunteers @festival this year.

Julia Best, Gill Boden, Barbara Brayshay, Alicia Chauhan, Ian Dennis, Lorna Dougherty, Sara Drysdale, Kate Fell, Peter Forward, Susan Greany, Kirsty Harding, Victoria Lee, Matt Law, Jo Pearson, Richard Madgwick, Rhiannon Philp, Luc Potts, Ffion Reynolds,  Imogen Stansfield, Holly Steane-Price, Edwina Williams-Jones, Anna-Elyse Young.

Thanks for making this crazy idea a reality.