With museums and heritage sites still closed, we’ve selected some more of the finest archaeology- and history-themed activities to keep you busy. There are plenty of places to tour from the comfort of your sofa, resources to expand your knowledge about the past, and options to entertain the whole family. Amy Brunskill explores the highlights.
A growing number of museums and heritage sites are creating virtual tours and interactive 3D models that you can explore at your leisure, as well as updating and expanding their online collections. If you’re missing your favourite places, here are some you can ‘visit’ right now.
National Museums Liverpool
Discover some of the highlights of the varied collection of artefacts and artworks housed across seven museums in Liverpool.
Sir John Soane’s Museum
Take a virtual tour of this eclectic museum. You can interact with digital models of the Sepulchral Chamber and the Model Room to find out about the some of the objects in more detail.
Florence Nightingale Museum
Find out about Florence’s life and legacy through a selection of objects, people, and places in this online exhibition marking the 200th anniversary of her birth.
British Museum Collection Online
More than 4 million objects and 1.9 million images from the British Museum’s collection are now available on the new and improved Collection Online pages.
Vikings in the East Midlands
Visit this virtual museum, which tells the story of Viking culture in the East Midlands through a selection of artefacts, designs, talks, and other resources.
National Museum Wales
Search more than half a million objects relating to the archaeology, art, and history of Wales, from the first use of caves 250,000 years ago to the country’s industrial heritage.
Natural History Museum
Learn about important discoveries in natural history that were made using objects that are now in the museum’s collections – and are presented in this online exhibition.
Discover a selection of English Heritage sites, including Grimes Graves, Wroxeter Roman City, and Tintagel Castle, with ‘Streetview’ explorable models.
Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich
Take a virtual tour of one of the greatest decorative painted schemes in England, the Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich.
Step into Welsh history by taking aerial tours of the fortifications of the Welsh countryside, going for a walk along the Pont Penllyn Bridge, or by delving into the Big Pit mines.
Hyde Park’s Crystal Palace
Explore the Crystal Palace that was built in Hyde Park for the Great Exhibition of 1851 through this digital recreation of the building.
Tour the Abbey and view treasures like the Shrine of St Edward the Confessor, the High Altar, and the Coronation Chair (see CA 283), all in unprecedented detail.
Open Virtual Worlds
This research group, based at the University of St Andrews, has created 360° reconstructions of sites that include St Andrews Cathedral, an Icelandic Viking longhouse, and 19th-century St Kilda.
Learning in lockdown
There are a multitude of different ways to expand your archaeological knowledge from home, whether you’re looking for a structured course, a podcast offering a light-hearted take on history, or blog posts about archaeological research.
EVENTS AND EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES
Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales
Explore digital reconstructions, tours, and animations of important archaeological sites and historical buildings in Wales.
Take part in a new 20-part archaeology-themed workshop – designed for schools and home-schoolers to use during the current lockdown.
Royal Archaeological Institute
Enjoy a selection of lectures and debates from the RAI, covering topics such as Anglo-Saxon timber buildings, Wade’s Causeway, and archaeologists at war.
Welsh Wreck Web Research Project
Sign up to this project to undertake online research, using the database of the Malvern Archaeological Diving Unit (MADU), of shipwrecks in Cardigan Bay, north-west Wales.
Discover some of the many female archaeologists, palaeontologists, and geologists who have been doing important work for far longer, and in far greater numbers, than many people realise.
PODCASTS AND RADIO
Dan Snow’s History Hit
Travel the length and breadth of the country to keep up with the cutting edge of history, listening to Dan Snow talk to experts, historians, and the people who were actually there.
A Life in Ruins
Enjoy discussions between archaeologists and non-archaeologists on topics ranging from prehistoric technology to past practices of tattooing and body-modification.
Listen to this daily podcast for some light-hearted entertainment from the historical community, with expert guest speakers covering a wide variety of subjects.
The British Museum Podcast
Learn about the museum’s history and go behind the scenes, hearing from curators, scientists, and other members of staff about their experiences and favourite objects.
Stuff You Missed in History Class
Delve into lesser-known stories and figures from history – look out particularly for the ‘Unearthed!’ episodes, which discuss the latest discoveries in archaeology.
BLOGS AND SOCIAL MEDIA
Catch up on the latest news and research from the Roman auxiliary fort south of Hadrian’s Wall, and discover some of the curators’ and excavators’ favourite finds from the site.
Read hundreds of articles from people involved in the Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network, set up to highlight the dangers posed by coastal erosion to sites on the foreshore and in the intertidal zone (see CA 306 and 324).
Mercian Archaeological Services
Choose from an abundance of posts about the Sherwood Forest Archaeology Project and learn more about the area’s history.
Use this hashtag to engage on Twitter with museums across the world.
History at Home
Join this group, run by English Heritage, to explore England’s history – a new unit, complete with quiz, is posted weekly.
York Museums Trust
The social-media accounts of York Museums Trust provide regular content, games, and challenges to explore.
If you’re missing family trips to places of historical interest, never fear – there are plenty of opportunities to keep adults and children alike entertained from home. Enjoy an abundance of craft ideas, games, and activities available online, and a great selection of new TV shows and old favourites. There’s no need to leave your house to find great sources of heritage fun for everyone!
CRAFTS AND ACTIVITIES
Colchester and Ipswich Museums
Enjoy a range of activities and resources: you can learn to read Roman graffiti or to communicate using Morse Code, or create your own fossils.
Jorvik Viking Centre
While the museum is closed, you will find a variety of make-and-do activities, videos, and puzzles online for children interested in learning about Viking life and culture.
My Home is My Museum
Get involved with National Museums Liverpool’s new project for 4- to 11-year-olds and imagine creating your own exhibition or a gallery of artworks inspired by you.
National Museums Scotland
Try your hand at various craft ideas inspired by the museum collections. You can create your own Lewis Chess pieces, make a ‘Recyclesaurus’, or play the ancient Egyptian game of Mehen.
Museum of London
Find an array of ways to play and learn from home – explore the Great Fire of London through a Minecraft experience, take a hunter-gatherer quiz, create your own dig box, and much more.
Caithness Broch Project
Discover a range of archaeological activities: make your own Neolithic carved stone balls, learn how photogrammetry works, or print off a Caithness archaeology-themed colouring sheet.
Museums in Quarantine
Join four experts as they explore collections in our national museums at a time of enforced closure.
Digging up Britain’s Past
Explore fascinating periods across British history in this archaeology series, both seasons of which are now available on My5.
Britain’s Most Historic Towns
In this documentary from 2018, Professor Alice Roberts explores Britain’s history through the stories of an individual town that encapsulate a particular era.
Get children engaged in history through this sketch show. Based on the fact-packed series of books by Terry Deary, it puts a fun spin on the past – with some very catchy songs.
Britain’s Ancient Tracks with Tony Robinson
Travel around the archaeological sites along Britain’s ancient trackways in this series from 2016.
The Monk, the Midden, and the Missing Monastery
Learn what it’s like to be an archaeologist in this documentary about DigVentures’ 2016 excavation of Lindisfarne.