As many heritage sites and museums begin to open their doors again, you may be looking forward to getting back out there, but there is still a huge selection of resources available for the occasions where you would rather get your heritage fix from the comfort of your sofa. Amy Brunskill selects some of the latest ways to get involved in archaeology and heritage at home, as well as giving a summary of some of the sites that you can now visit in person.
One of the advantages of exploring museums and heritage sites online is that you don’t need to worry about travel times! This month we have put together some of the best virtual tours, online exhibits, and museum collection databases from sites around the world, so you can explore archaeology both in the UK and further afield without leaving your house.
Imperial War Museums
Delve into online exhibits and browse the collections of the five museums that make up the IWM Group to learn more about the causes of war and its impact on people’s lives.
Coptic Museum, Cairo
Wander around the museum that houses the world’s largest collection of Egyptian Christian artefacts and trace the history of Egypt from prehistory to the modern day.
Examine some of the millions of books, manuscripts, maps, drawings, and artefacts housed in the British Library through online exhibitions and collections.
National Museum of Ireland
Explore the NMI’s wide range of collections, which include Irish antiquities, art and industry, Irish folklore, and natural history, or enjoy the museum’s online galleries.
National Archaeological Museum, Athens
Learn about the collections of the largest museum in Greece, from prehistoric antiquities to sculpture and vases, as well as Egyptian and Cypriot artefacts.
Browse art and objects that tell the story of the Netherlands, or walk around the impressive building using Google Street View.
Science Museum, London
Take a virtual tour of the museum, let curators guide you around the major galleries, or explore the vast collections of the Science Museum Group.
Tomb of Ramesses VI
Explore a highly detailed 3D model of this tomb in the Valley of the Kings, belonging to the fifth pharaoh of ancient Egypt’s 20th Dynasty (1189-1077 BC).
Bryn Celli Ddu, Anglesey
Learn about Anglesey’s prehistoric past in a new and innovative way – by investigating the megalithic tomb and the archaeology around it through Minecraft.
Enjoy a walking tour of the historic centre of ancient Rome, and discover the many places that have played important roles in the city’s history.
Access the largest collection of resources ever assembled about the Pyramids and their surrounding cemeteries and settlements on Egypt’s Giza Plateau.
The Ness of Brodgar
Examine a range of 3D models of excavation trenches, structures, and artefacts from the famous Neolithic complex in Orkney.
Walk around ancient temples, cities, and roads with Google Street View, exploring Angkor Wat and the other sites that make up this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Take a virtual tour of this impressive building, one of the oldest Christian structures in England, using a series of 3D photographs that enable you to look around at your leisure.
Learning in lockdown
If you’re looking for ways to learn more about archaeology or heritage from home, have a look at the selection listed below, which includes lectures on nautical archaeology, podcasts discussing important heritage sites, and a weekly social media hashtag featuring favourite hillforts.
EVENTS AND EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES
How to be a Junior Archaeologist
This new course from DigVentures is intended for families with children aged 8-15 who are interested in learning how archaeologists go about uncovering the past.
Nautical Archaeological Society CovED talks
Learn about a variety of topics related to underwater archaeology, maritime heritage, and foreshore archaeology live with this weekly webcast – or catch up later on their YouTube channel.
Explore the Turnpike-era milestones and mileposts in the pre-1974 County of Warwickshire, as well as the surviving Churchyard and Wayside Crosses.
Bristol Museums Stories
Discover the stories of Bristol from prehistory to the present day through the city’s objects, art, and people.
National Monuments Service
Find out about Ireland’s historically significant monuments, places, and shipwrecks, recorded by the Archaeological Survey of Ireland and the Underwater Archaeology Unit.
PODCASTS AND RADIO
Archaeology South-East Digs Deeper
If our news story about the site piqued your interest, you can learn more about the Red Lion playhouse in the first episode of a new podcast from Archaeology South-East.
A History of the World in 100 Objects
The popular 2010 programme from BBC Radio 4 and the British Museum, which examined human history through a series of artefacts from the British Museum’s collections, is now available online.
The British History Podcast
Discover the story of Britain through this podcast, which takes a chronological approach and brings to the forefront the lives of the people who lived through these events.
Bettany Hughes’ Ten Places: Europe and Us
Explore the details of ten important National Trust sites, and hear about their connections to Europe and the wider world.
The Dirt Podcast
Join the podcast’s hosts and a variety of guests as they discuss a wide selection of topics from archaeology and history.
BLOGS AND SOCIAL MEDIA
Brick to the Past
Enjoy a new approach to the past in this blog, which uses Lego figures and structures to illustrate historical tales, from the Dissolution of the Monasteries to the Final Duel of Tlahuicole.
National Museum Wales
Learn about important people and events in Welsh history and the artefacts associated with them, as well as the latest news and updates from the museum.
National Lottery Heritage Fund
Read about some of the important discussions taking place concerning heritage management and future plans in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This new social-media initiative aims to bring together objects from different collections and explore how the UK’s digital collections relate to each other.
Search for this hashtag every Wednesday to peruse a selection of the best hillforts as presented by archaeologists, historians, and enthusiasts – or even get involved yourself!
Here you can find plenty of activities for the whole family: fill in archaeology colouring sheets at home or enjoy a TV programme showing the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb – in full colour!
CRAFTS AND ACTIVITIES
Find resources for different age groups including colouring, learn-and-play activity plans, and worksheets, covering topics from the Bayeux Tapestry to VE Day.
Virtual Canterbury Medieval Pageant
Design your own medieval animal tiles – to be part of a virtual tiled floor for Canterbury Cathedral – then turn them into gingerbread cookies to eat at home!
Take some time to relax with these downloadable colouring sheets depicting different archaeological and heritage sites.
Try your hand at some Classical cooking with nine recipes from ancient Greece and Rome, on the British Museum blog.
London Transport Museum
Enjoy a range of transport-themed activities, from quizzes and games to craft ideas, like creating your own Battle Bus or Green Line bus.
Around the World in a Day
Learn about some of the world’s best architecture through objects from the British Museum and create your own designs using drawing apps, Minecraft, or any other tool you like.
Walking Britain’s Roman Roads
Join Dan Jones as he traces Britain’s Roman past through six of the key roads that they built, including Dere Street, Watling Street, and Ermine Street.
The Story of Wales
Follow the history of Wales, from the world’s biggest prehistoric copper mine right up to the ways the country has changed since the Second World War.
Back in Time for Tea
Enjoy an entertaining demonstration of how changing food fashions over the course of the 20th century can offer an insight into life for working-class families in the north of England.
A Greek Odyssey with Bettany Hughes
Take a tour of the Greek islands and find out about their history, from ancient Greece up to the present day.
Tutankhamun in Colour
Experience the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb and its treasures just as it occurred in 1922, as colourisation of film and photographs bring the exciting find to life.
Britain’s Most Historic Towns
Explore important periods in British history through the stories of individual towns, such as Wartime Dover, Tudor Norwich, and Viking York.
Slowly but surely, museums and heritage sites are reopening their doors to the public. Here are some of the places that are already open again: do go and support your local heritage institutions if you can and are safe to do so, and look out for many more to follow in the coming months!
National Army Museum
The National Army Museum has now reopened to the public. Entry remains free, but time-slots must be booked online.
Museum of London
The museum reopens from 6 August. Free tickets and time-slots must be booked online, and a range of new safety procedures have been introduced.
Derby Museum and Art Gallery
The museum has reopened with reduced opening hours; visitors are admitted every 15 minutes via a new main entrance, and are expected to follow a one-way system once inside.
Jorvik Viking Centre
Jorvik has reopened with extended opening hours. Tickets must be pre-booked for a specific time-slot and a one-way system is also in operation.
Victoria & Albert Museum
The V&A is reopening in phases. From 6 August, it will be open 11am-3pm from Thursday to Sunday; timed-entry tickets can be booked in advance or on the day of your visit.
The Collection is now open, with reduced opening hours. Free, timed tickets must be booked in advance, and a one-way route is operation, with some galleries closed.
Vindolanda Roman Fort and Museum & Roman Army Museum
Both sites are now open seven days a week. Entry must be pre-booked, with slots currently available for August and September.
Seven National Trust houses have now reopened, including Lyme in Cheshire and Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk, with plans to reopen further properties in the coming weeks.
The castle is now open again, with a new one-way system in place. Pre-booking is not essential, but you are able to buy tickets in advance online.
Butser Ancient Farm
The site is currently open on selected Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, with more dates to follow. Tickets must be pre-booked before the day of visit.
Historic Royal Palaces
More of HRP’s properties have now reopened, including the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, and Hillsborough Castle and Gardens. All visitors must book an entry time.
Many English Heritage sites are now open again, with plans to open most of the remainder in August. Pre-booking is required.
Historic Environment Scotland
A range of ticketed sites are beginning to reopen to the public, with Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle, and Urquhart Castle open from 1 August and more to follow later in the month.
SS Great Britain
Brunel’s celebrated steamship is now open to the public again, just in time to mark the 50th anniversary of the vessel returning to Bristol. Timed slots must be booked in advance.