Community workshops

This page tells you about the community workshops that were run as part of the prototype house building phase. Check back here for further details of community workshops planned as part of the visitor centre build.

Community workshops – April 2013

With support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage were able to offer some great opportunities for local communities around Stonehenge to get involved in the prototype house process and encourage local volunteers. On each Saturday in April we held two sessions each day. The workshops were held at Old Sarum,  Salisbury and facilitated by Ancient Technology Centre staff and English Heritage volunteers who were working on the project. Enjoy our photos and comments outlined below from the workshop participants about what they learnt!

Round the Houses Community Workshop – 6 April 2013

The first community workshop was on Saturday 6th April. What an opening! After all the biting weather, there was a clear blue sky and some cold winds but not too bad. Everyone was wrapped up warm and after a bit of axe wielding many were shedding layers.

Ancient Technology Centre Staff and the dedicated volunteers who are helping with this build were informative, engaging and clearly passionate about the building experiments they are undertaking here at Old Sarum. So dedicated, that some of the builds have been built and taken down again several times, just to get the feeling right.

Luke first took the group on a timeline in the field to visualise physically how old, or really not so old, these houses are in the grand scheme of things.


The group split into two with those who were interested in the tour going with the volunteers and those wanting to get straight into the physical stuff staying near to the axes!


Luke demonstrates how to and how not to use the bronze and flint axes. It’s much more effective and safe if you don’t lift the axe above shoulder height.

Children work on their bronze and flint axe wielding while parents get a tour of the houses

Children work on their bronze and flint axe wielding while parents get a tour of the houses

Those who take a tour around the houses with the volunteers hear all kinds of tales about the build and the questions being asked. Some try their hand at making rose knots from willow branches.IMG_0668

Everyone has a go at the activities adults and children alike. The atmosphere was relaxed and the activity very busy. We start to talk about what life would have been like while we do the activities. The bronze axe is a prized possession and some of the younger members of the group start to work out what they could trade to gain a bronze axe. Is it worth three flint axes?

Building a wattle fence requires teamwork and thinking heavy thoughts as you press down the branches carefully!IMG_0583

Luke mixes in straw to help the chalk fix into the hazel fence better. You have got to press the clay type mixture into the fence firmly with your thumbs.

IMG_0628 IMG_0653

Finally, hand washing and delicious warming soup and hot chocolate from Adrian.


Here is some of what you thought on the day….

“Thanks very much for our enjoyable day. It was very educational and quite rewarding to be able to get involved in bits of the construction.  It was a great initiative to offer this out to public viewing and participation.”

“Well done for getting all four of our children and us involved, that never happens! We only came for the morning and we have ended up staying all day. Brilliant that you gave responsibility to the ones who had done it earlier to lead some of the safety talk to the afternoon group”

“Just to let you know we all really enjoyed the day on Saturday, and it couldn’t have been organised better!”

“My favourite bit was building the wall. I liked the axes too

“The volunteers were wondering if the soup could be available all week round? It was delicious and very welcome!”

Round the Houses Community Workshop – 13 April 2013


A rainy day but our groups and families came along and braved the elements!


The tours were honed by the volunteers …


Activity resumed on the chalk daubing and everyone gets involvedIMG_0839IMG_0881

Since last week, when our first community group started the chalk daub on house 851, one tonne of chalk has been used on the wall!


One of our volunteers gets their hands on an axe too whilst everyone is occupied with daubing!


Thank you to all the volunteers who helped out yesterday and to all the families that came to enjoy the day despite the drizzle!

Round the Houses Community Workshop – 20 April 2013


Timeline introductory talk and the day is a scorcher


“We have learnt a mountain of information, both about our history and practical techniques. I expected my son would enjoy it but I never expected to learn so much myself!”


“Your workshop was very welcoming, warm and friendly”


Mixing the chalk cob together and taking turns to daub the wall


“Hands on activity for children and adults is the best thing. It is an amazing experience for our children who are going home to recreate their own houses”


Thatching and making the house cosy

Thank you to everyone involved in making these Saturday workshops such a success – Ancient Technology Centre staff, English Heritage volunteers and all the intrepid folks that came along to these workshops whatever the weather.


2 thoughts on “Community workshops

  1. Pingback: Stonehenge Community Projects: People Make the Place | Heritage Calling

  2. Pingback: Our last Community Workshop today! | Stonehenge Neolithic Houses

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