Dig into archaeology online this Summer

The Council for British Archaeology (CBA) is staging a nine-day digital archaeology festival between 11 and 19 July 2020, run in partnership with Historic England and other heritage and archaeology bodies around the UK.

Due to Coronavirus restrictions, the charity has postponed their usual summer programme of ‘on the ground’ Festival events until the Autumn. Instead, they are hosting a week of online activity to encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to learn about and participate in archaeology from home.  

Planned activity includes the CBA’s online launch event with Wessex Archaeology for people of all ages on 11 July, interactive talks and panel discussions from experts – including TV archaeologist and Festival ambassador Alex Langlands – plus a range of other events and content that that shine a light on every aspect of archaeology. 

Museum of London Archaeology’s coastal survey project CITiZAN will host a panel discussion on the impact of environmental change on coastal archaeology, and a series of youth-focused events are planned, organised by the CBA’s Young Archaeologists’ Club and the Shout Out Loud project – as well as an evening of ‘archaeogaming’ streams which look at the intersection between archaeology and video games.  

Two features return from previous years, ‘A Day in Archaeology’ on 13 July launches a series of blogs that give a snapshot into the life of somebody working or studying in archaeology. Then, on 15 July the popular ‘Ask An Archaeologist Day’ offers the chance to have your questions answered by archaeologists from all over the world on Twitter. 

A special edition of English Heritage’s popular ‘History at Home Live’, hosted by CBBC’s Ben Shires will also provide an opportunity for aspiring archaeologists to ask questions during the live broadcast!

Other events will explore the festival theme, ‘Climate and Environment’, including ‘Stonehenge 3019 – Climate Past and Future’, a live discussion featuring young environmentalist Mya-Rose Craig, aka ‘Birdgirl’, Stonehenge historian Susan Greaney, and young film-makers as they explore the way in which the changing environment has affected Stonehenge throughout its 5000 year history. The discussion will end in the public premier of a film produced by young people exploring their ideas about climate change and the World Heritage site’s future.

Two competitions are now running to help get the public participating from home. #RubbishArt ties in with the 2020 theme of ‘Climate and Environment’ by asking entrants to recreate archaeological sites & objects out of things they would otherwise throw away, while #ArchaeologyShowreel sees the CBA teaming up with talent agency Past Preservers to search for budding archaeology TV presenters – with a place on their books on offer to the winners. 

As in previous years, the public are encouraged to join in and host their own digital events by registering them on the festival website festival.archaeologyuk.org right up until launch day. 

CBA Executive Director Neil Redfern said:

“Archaeology has always responded to the world in which we exist, and this year is no different. By hosting a digital festival we hope to bring something new and dynamic to how we engage and participate as archaeologists. We want to go beyond just cancelling or postponing our summer event to ensure that an important date in many people’s diaries remains at this crucial time for all those working, volunteering, or studying in the archaeology sector.

“We hope to see as many people as possible participating in and hosting events as we look to raise the profile of archaeology and spread the message that it’s rewarding and is relevant to the issues that matter to us most such as climate change. More than that we want to show the it is inclusive, anyone can participate and it’s really creative. I look forward to welcoming everyone to the Festival at its virtual launch on 11th July 2020.”

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England said:

“We’re pleased that part of this year’s festival has become digital. Not only does this help people to access archaeology at a time when for many of us there is no other way, it also helps increase understanding of what we can learn from archaeology. By telling us about where we have come from, it helps to shape the direction we might take.” 

English Heritage Head of Learning and Interpretation Dr Dominique Bouchard said:

“The Climate and Environment theme is the perfect subject matter to introduce archaeology to young people, and to inspire them to take a lifelong interest in it. The Shout Out Loud programme was established to help bring youth voices, ideas and creativity to the fore, and the digital Festival of Archaeology offers young people the chance to show how archaeology has something to offer everyone.”


The CBA Festival of Archaeology is now in its 29th year and is supported by principle partner Historic England and partners Shout Out Loud coordinated by English Heritage and funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund #KicktheDust programme; Cadw; and the Royal Archaeological Institute. The Festival is sponsored by Towergate Insurance and is part of European Archaeology Days. You can follow the line up as more events are added on festival.archaeologyuk.org and follow the CBA’s social media feeds on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @archaeologyUK. On the ground events will now take place during a second week of activity from 24 October – 1 November. 

About the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) 

The Council for British Archaeology, an educational charity and membership organisation, has been the leading voice for the public interest and participation in archaeology for 75 years. Active both with grassroots community groups and in Westminster, the CBA works with the public, voluntary sector and across archaeology to safeguard the UK's historic environment and make the case to decision makers that archaeology matters and anyone can participate. http://new.archaeologyuk.org/

The CBA also produce the bi-monthly British Archaeology Magazine and run The Young Archaeologists’ Club (YAC), the only UK-wide club for young people interested in archaeology. https://www.yac-uk.org/

About Historic England

We are Historic England the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England’s spectacular historic environment, from beaches and battlefields to parks and pie shops. We protect, champion and save the places that define who we are where we’ve come from as a nation. We care passionately about the stories they tell, the ideas they represent and the people who live, work and play among them. Working with communities and specialists we share our passion, knowledge and skills to inspire interest, care and conservation, so everyone can keep enjoying and looking after the history that surrounds us all.

James Rose, Communications and Marketing Manager

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