Heritage from home – May

7 mins read

With museums currently closed and events cancelled or postponed, you might be missing your regular dose of archaeology and heritage activities (other than reading CA, of course!). But there is still an abundance of places you can ‘visit’, events you can take part in, and learning and entertainment opportunities of all sorts available online. Amy Brunskill explores a selection of resources and activities to help you get involved from home.

Virtual visits

You may not be able to wander around your favourite museums and heritage sites at the moment, but many have created virtual tours and interactive 3D models, as well as making their diverse collections available online. At least you don’t have to queue to get in…


The British Museum
Explore online exhibits via Google Arts and Culture, learn about key objects in more depth through ‘History Connected’, or simply walk around the museum on Google Street View

The Pitt Rivers Museum
Take a virtual tour of the archaeological and anthropological collections of the University of Oxford or examine theircollections online

National Library Scotland
Delve into online collections, geo-referenced historic maps, and other e-resources (including academic papers, historical documents, and videos in the moving image archive).

Manchester Museum
This new mobile site makes the museum’s digital content easily available from home, including exhibitions and displays, plus resources for researchers and home learning.

Victoria Gallery and Museum Liverpool
Tour the museum with 360° videos of each exhibition space, and enjoy downloadable content such as exhibition information booklets and videos.

Museum of London
Search the museum’s unique collections and discover over a million objects spanning thousands of years of London’s history.

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery www.birminghammuseums.org.uk/bmag/virtual-tour
Four interactive 3D models allow online visitors to look around all the art and history galleries in the museum.


Enjoy a 360° view of the monument from inside the stones, or visit the Skyscape website to experience a live view of the sky above Stonehenge and learn about its alignment.

The Roman Baths, Bath
Learn more about the key areas of the Roman bath complex with the ‘Walkthrough’ feature, explore a 3D model, and watch a range of videos about the site.

Historic England Shipwrecks
Tour protected wreck sites such as HMT Arfon, HMS Colossus, the London, and more, without even getting wet, using Historic England’s virtual dive trails.

Wemyss Caves
Use this digital 3D model of the Wemyss Caves and surrounding coastline to explore the Pictish, medieval, and 19th-century artwork carved into the cave walls.

Brading Roman Villa
This video features a 3D interpretation of Brading Roman Villa, showing how the site may have looked in the mid-4th century AD.

The Tower of London
Join Dan Snow and Chief Yeoman Warder Alan Kingshott on a guided video tour of the Tower of London, with 360° views allowing you to look around each area at your leisure.

Learning in lockdown

If you’re looking to expand your archaeological knowledge from the safety of your sofa, there are plenty of ways to do so, from recorded lectures on YouTube, to online courses, to conference presentations in the form of Twitter threads.


Future Learn
Free online archaeology courses include ‘Hadrian’s Wall: life on the Roman frontier’, ‘Rome: avirtual tour of the ancient city’, and ‘Exploring Stone Age Archaeology: the mysteries of Star Carr’.

The Prehistoric Society Teaching and Learning Blog
The Prehistoric Society’s new website offers a range of learning resources for both teachers and wider audiences looking for up-to-date information on our prehistoric past.

CITiZAN (Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network)
Watch presentations from the 2020 ‘Intrigue and Opportunity’ conference, as well as other videos about CITiZAN’s work documenting vulnerable coastal sites.

There are hundreds of videos on the DigVentures YouTube channel, including talks from the DigNation Festival 2018 and updates from Lindisfarne, Sudeley Castle, and other excavations over the years.

Society of Antiquaries
Catch up on expert lectures from the Society of Antiquaries’ back catalogue, encompassing a huge range of archaeological subjects, from the earliest English castles to 100 years of female antiquaries.


Discover the Wall
Delve into this 12-episode audio tour along Hadrian’s Wall to learn about the lives of the people who lived and worked on the Roman frontier almost 2,000 years ago.

Career in Ruins
Try this podcast if you want to find out what archaeology is all about and what it’s like to work in this discipline.

Archaeology and Ale
Listen to the monthly series of talks at the Red Deer pub, presented by Archaeology in the City, part of the University of Sheffi eld Archaeology Department’s outreach programme.

The Prehistory Guys
Join Rupert Soskin and Michael Bott as they explore a variety of archaeological topics – from Stonehenge to beer brewing in the Neolithic – and interview experts including Tim Darvill and Alison Sheridan.

BBC In Our Time
Access the whole archive of episodes from the popular BBC radio discussion series looking at a wide variety of historical subjects; updated weekly.


PASt Explorers
This series of blog posts by Finds Advisors for the Portable Antiquities Scheme looks at subjects from ancient coins to the history of metalworking. You can also explore more than 1.4 million artefacts recorded on the PAS database at finds.org.uk.

British Museum Blog
Discover details about the museum’s exhibitions and displays,and learn more about the conservation and planning behind them.

National Trust Curators’ Blog
Go behind the scenes of National Trust exhibitions and conservation work and get closer to some of the objects and collections.

Post-Medieval Archaeology Twitter Conference
www.spma.org.uk/events/post-medieval-archaeology-twitter-conference-pmac20, or search for #PMAC20 on Twitter.
Access a full programme of Twitter papers from this conference on 17-18 April, covering topics from ‘Peterloo and the archaeology of protest’ to ‘Kamikaze attacks in WWII’.

Search for this hashtag on Twitter to find a variety of online resources and additional content from museums, including curators discussing their favourite artefacts and stories from history.

Visit a different museum or heritage site every day through photographs taken by visitors and posted on Twitter under the hashtag #museumsunlocked.

Family fun

Heritage is a great way to bring the whole family together – and it can be just as much fun at home as it is out in the field! A range of make-and-do activities suggested by your favourite heritage organisations and an abundance of archaeological programmes on TV are bound to keep all ages entertained and inspired.


Young Archaeologists’ Club
There are so many archaeology-themed craft activities on the YAC website, from growing your own cropmarks and baking Viking flatbread to mummifying an orange and making a mini roundhouse.

The Mary Rose
Bring the world of the Mary Rose to your home through arts and crafts, try making a Lego model or paper pop-up of the Tudor flagship, or attempt the scientific experiments, activity sheets, and more available online.

Archaeology Virtual Pub Quiz
Join DigVentures live every Wednesday on their YouTube channel for an archaeology-themed Virtual Pub Quiz that you can take part in at home.

English Heritage
Build your own castle out of cardboard, design a Roman mosaic, or follow ancient recipes to make a Roman burger or Norman date loaf.

Manchester Children’s University
Find child-friendly introductions to ancient Egypt, Black History, and ancient Greece, complete with quizzes and games.


Digging for Britain
Join Alice Roberts as she follows a year of British archaeology, looking at the results of digs and investigations around the country.

Secrets of the Museum
Venture behind the scenes at the Victoria & Albert Museum and learn about the conservation and study of some of the museum’s unique artefacts in six episodes.

Time Team
Enjoy your favourite episodes of this classic archaeology show, in which a team of specialists dig deep to uncover as much as they can about the archaeology of a UK site in just three days.

Britain’s Viking Graveyard
Learn about the 9th-century mass grave found beneath a garden in Repton (see CA 352) and the vivid insights it grants into the activities of the Viking Great Army in Derbyshire.

Britain at Low Tide
Explore Britain’s fascinating coastal archaeology and the stories from our maritime, industrial, and natural history that are revealed when the tide goes out.

The Great British Dig: history in your back garden
Hugh Dennis and a team of archaeologists search for traces of a Roman bathhouse beneath a street in Maidstone, Kent.

REVIEW: The Great British Dig

The newest TV programme in our list above is The Great British Dig, which aired on 9 April. Have you ever wondered what might lie beneath your lawn? The residents of Florence Road, in Maidstone, Kent, have been given the opportunity to find out. In 2004, when the local pub was demolished for new housing, the remains of a Roman bathhouse were uncovered. Do more traces from this period lie beneath the suburban street? A team of archaeologists headed by comedian Hugh Dennis set out to investigate in a five-day test-pitting project aided by local residents.

As the project’s frontman, Hugh represents a genial everyman figure, asking the right questions to allow for archaeological exposition, and helping the team to charm their way into residents’ gardens. Interpretation of the finds, though, is left to the experts: lead archaeologists Dr Chloe Duckworth, Milica Rajic, and Richard Taylor, who offer concise and accessible insights into the historical context, individual objects, and archaeological techniques. The programme does a good job of highlighting aspects of investigation beyond digging – magnetometry, processing soil samples for plant remains, finds analysis – and the local community’s involvement (and enthusiasm) is heart-warming, as they share in the history of their neighbourhood.

This article appeared in CA 363. To find out more about subscribing to the magazine, click here.

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