The Trust’s contributions to the Festival of British Archaeology 2009 started with a bang on Saturday 18th July. The Festival is a rebranding of the National Archaeology Week organised by the CBA, which extends this year over two weeks, hence the change in name. However, the only change to our highly popular collaboration with Swansea Museum was that it was bigger and better. We were incredibly lucky with the weather – it didn’t rain once – so the events in the museum garden were able to proceed with a swing. These events were planned with children in mind, but the grown-ups seemed to enjoy them just as much! In the east garden, on the corner with Burrows Place, members of the medieval re-enactment group Meibion y Ddraig were joined by Charles Ferris of the Friends of the Newport Ship who did a roaring business with his medieval mint.
The children’s mystery excavation took place in the Trust’s new tent, which had been set up in the more difficult to find west garden. Sculptor Susanna Ciccotti (head of the Trust’s Illustration Department in the 1990s) had brought her facial reconstruction of a Neanderthal man and explained to visitors how it was produced, before the children tried their hand at modelling their own Neanderthal heads. A new twist on an old favourite was the prehistoric pottery making, which was done as a living history event with the Trust’s Paul Huckfield dressed up as a Bronze Age potter guiding the children through making their own Bronze Age style pots and explaining why all his tools and other paraphernalia were made from wood, stone and basketry. We are grateful to Alan of Systembox, Port Talbot, who supplied the clay for this activity free of charge. Edith Evans’s Roman cookery demonstration included workshops for children to recreate a Roman recipe. We also brought back the do-it-yourself wattle and daub that had been so popular two years ago.
Inside, the Trust provided the usual opportunities to consult the HER and have their finds identified, along with an exhibition which featured the Oystermouth Castle community excavation. Andy Sherman, one of the dig’s directors, was on hand to talk about it and answer questions. The Friends of Oystermouth Castle also had their own stall. Other stalls and exhibitions were provided by were Aberavon Historical Friends, the Friends of the Newport Ship, Gower AONB, Swansea Bay 1940s Museum, Swansea Metal Detecting Club (also featuring detectorist Ron Saunders’ fine collection of flints), Swansea University Extramural Department, West Glamorgan Archive Service and West Glamorgan Family History Group. Talks were given by Gerald Gabb of the museum and Neil Maylan of the Trust. Refreshments were provided by members of the Royal Institution of South Wales. And wandering around was a 1940s Local Defence Volunteer with his bag of tools, checking for gas leaks after air raids.
The official visitor figure for the museum for the day was 1370, a very impressive total. We would like to say a big thank-you to all those who gave up their time to take part. This includes Penny Webb who greeted visitors to the event in medieval costume and made sure they new where everything was, and Nathan, Sam and Steffan who had been on work experience with the Trust the previous week and couldn’t keep away!