Posted by: travelrat | January 29, 2016

Ancient Technology

Ancient Technology 1

I’ve made some reference to the Ancient Technology Centre in my past posts. You may remember, they helped and advised on the construction of the ‘prototype’ Neolithic houses at Old Sarum, and on the ones that form part of the display at the Stonehenge Visitor Centre.

They’re at Cranbourne, in Dorset (not to be confused with Cranbourne Chase, which is some miles away) and started as a school project, but grew into an educational facility for children from all over.

Apart from the occasional ‘Open Day’, they’re not normally open to the public, but a visit was arranged for volunteers at Stonehenge, and I was particularly keen to go.

While their work is based on archaeological evidence, that’s only the starting point. Much of it is what I once heard called ‘experiential archaeology’ … or, in other words, they work things out like the ancients did. They try various methods according to the technology and materials which would have been available, and pick the one which works best.

It seems a pretty sound method. I asked if the recent Bronze Age find in Cambridgeshire had any effect on their thinking, and was told that it seemed to confirm things they’d already worked out by experiment.

It’s not only Neolithic. We met, and had tea in a Viking ‘long house’, we saw the ‘Earth House’ (I mentally christened it the ‘Hobbit House’) … a ‘soddy’ based on a find in the Isle of Man. It would probably have held several families,  or maybe a large, extended family, but had been laid out as a sort of auditorium.

There was also an Iron Age house and a forge … a real, working one, for they make all their Iron Age artefacts here. And, several ongoing projects and experiments. But, they have by no means abandoned what they’ve already done; they’re always looking for ways to improve them as, indeed, the original builders may well have done.

Ancient Technology 2

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