To the slightly incongruous but very interesting sound track of a Hurricane fighter, a Blenheim bomber and a nearby World War 1 ‘trench experience’, the Foundations of Archaeology Project maintained a presence throughout the week at the Chalke Valley History Festival, between 26 June and 2 July 2017. In an increasingly diverse festival the FoA Project this year shared a marquee with the Cranborne Chase AONB – the first time the AONB has been represented at the Festival.
Aided by project volunteers, The FoA Project was able to man a static display over several days – two of the days were reserved for schools. All this was considerably aided by the presence of a time-travelling General Pitt Rivers who had not exactly returned from the grave (he was one of the first people in the UK to be cremated) but nevertheless was able to captivate young and old alike in his resurgent self, frequently pointing south with an authoritative gesture towards the Rushmore estate which lies not far to the South. The General appeared at the ‘pop up’ talks by the NAAFI tent in the middle of the festival ground as well as to more intimate gatherings in the region of the AONB marquee.
The General, as he preferred to be informally known, also appeared at a workshop morning, where together with geophysicists from Winchester university, a flint knapper and a human remains specialist he helped provide rotating hands-on sessions for four groups of participants. The ground for these sessions was prepared by a talk by Martin Green, describing the archaeology of the Cranborne Chase, using the excavations on his farm as examples.