This year Guerilla Archaeology had everyone from school kids to pensioners getting involved with archaeology across the breadth of Britain.
At festivals that ranged from the newly created Lunar, near Birmingham, to the well-established Glastonbury, to a Cadw-led solstice celebration, from running wild at Wilderness to going green at Green Man, Guerilla Archaeologists interacted face-to-face with over 3000 people getting them to create, reflect, discuss and debate their relationship with the past, present and the future.
Participants took part in activates that saw them voting on the treatment of human remains, creating fantasy funerals, making Bronze Age jewellery, carving Viking antler rings, reflecting on the relevance of megalithic monuments and counting the dead.
GA operates as a loose collective of staff, students, artists and others who come together to decide themes and design workshops. The events are delivered, mostly as drop-in or short booked events (up to 2 hours), for a duration of between three and five days.
GA staff are provided with training in public engagement and resources prior to the event. This year the workshops provided training and experience for 16 students and gave them the opportunity to hone their knowledge and to present some of their own research (e.g. undergraduate experimental archaeology and postgraduate research into monuments and landscapes).
The GA themed workshops, at Lunar, Bryn Celli Ddu (Anglesey), Glastonbury, Wilderness (Oxfordshire) and Green Man (Crickhowell) focused on recent research undertaken by Guerilla Archaeologists; from isotopic analysis of pigs at Stonehenge (Madgwick and Mulville, 2015a, 2015b), to mummification, deer DNA (Mulville, forthcoming), experimental archaeology (Dennis and Sharples, forthcoming) to Neolithic tombs (Whittle 2010) and monuments (Greary in prep).
GA activities also encourage people to engage with contemporary issues such as the repatriation and reburial of human remains, the history of the mobility and migration of communities and expressions of ethnic identity.
GA generated interest via social and traditional media with Dr Mulville publishing a piece in the ‘The Conversation’ on Glastonbury and presenting a Society of Antiquaries Rhind Lecture on Storytelling.
Evaluation indicated that interacting with GA increased the level of understanding, interest and appreciation of archaeological research and its relevance to contemporary society. Participants commonly express surprise at how diverse, insightful and interesting our exploration of the past is. Audiences were spread across the age group, ranging from 2 to 75 year olds, the core audience tended towards those between 21 and 45, and varied according to the festival demographic.
Participants are also highly engaged with the emergence of new scientific techniques as well as the hands-on nature of experimental archaeology.
Workshops developed by GA now form part of our undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, both in delivering particular research themes e.g. death and commemoration and in providing case studies and training for the Heritage Communication module.
Last but not least a huge thank you to all our hard working volunteers @festival this year.
Julia Best, Gill Boden, Barbara Brayshay, Alicia Chauhan, Ian Dennis, Lorna Dougherty, Sara Drysdale, Kate Fell, Peter Forward, Susan Greany, Kirsty Harding, Victoria Lee, Matt Law, Jo Pearson, Richard Madgwick, Rhiannon Philp, Luc Potts, Ffion Reynolds, Imogen Stansfield, Holly Steane-Price, Edwina Williams-Jones, Anna-Elyse Young.
Thanks for making this crazy idea a reality.