The Goal of the Ancient Technology Centre is to engage people of all ages in the daily life of our ancestors and to increase their understanding of the skills, resources and strategies available to them.
The ATC started as a school experimental archaeology project in 1985/6. A full size roundhouse was reconstructed by children. They were entirely responsible for the sourcing of materials and the construction process. The centre became part of Dorset County Council Outdoor Education in the early 1990’s. Building reconstructions are a continuous project at the centre using archaeological evidence from Britain and Europe. Living history is used to engage young people and is based on archaeological evidence with a reliance on local traditional crafts, skills and knowledge. Other than buildings, our experimental archaeology is quite informal – we are currently working to formalise this using volunteer help to produce a rolling program of well researched projects leading to publication. Although we have taken postgraduate interns for specific projects, we are also seeking structured academic links with experimental archaeology degree courses across the country. In essence, although the centre has been conducting ground breaking work with children for many years, we are on the cusp of developing research at the centre to a much larger extent.
Our primary work has involved the reconstruction of buildings using a child and volunteer workforce. Timber framing, green wood working, woodland management, carpentry and blacksmithing all contribute to these structures and are carried out by visiting groups and volunteers. Buildings are not scaled down – but do take longer to construct due to the nature of our workforce.
We have six reconstructions of ancient buildings. A Viking Longhouse, An Iron Age Earth House, An Iron Age Roundhouse, A Roman Smithy/Workshop, A Neolithic Longhouse and A Saxon Sunken Feature Building. Our residential longhouse is a living history experience where children and adults dress in costume and take part in all the daily tasks to provide food for the whole group and ensure the seasonal running of our small farmstead.
Currently our main focus for living history is the Viking/Saxon period, and the Neolithic but we are developing a Roman living history weekend for this coming summer.
Archaeology informs the activities and projects we currently undertake. Ecology and archaeology both contribute to our woodland management strategies, agricultural plans and animal husbandry. We work primarily with the British geographical area but with reference to global developments. Best available evidence is used regardless of geographical region to illustrate life in the past.
Living history activities are numerous and contribute directly to the maintenance of the site, development of the buildings, or investigating daily life in the past. Our living history activities use materials gathered from our hedgerows and animals.
We have several seasonal open days as well as historically themed open weekends. We are running public skills courses throughout the year in traditional crafts and skills. Evening tours will continue. We also hold storytelling/musical events for the public.