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The Ancient Technology Centre, Cranborne in Dorset

Ancient Technology Centre -saxon-houseThe Ancient Technology Centre started as a school experimental archaeology project in 1985/6 with the reconstruction of a full-size roundhouse with the help of local school 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.  Timber framing, green wood working, woodland management, carpentry and blacksmithing all contribute to these structures and are carried out by visiting school groups and volunteers. Buildings are not scaled down – but do take longer to construct due to the nature of our workforce.  Our most recent building, the 24m Viking Longhouse won the 2011 LABC Award for Best Community Development for the South West Region.

Ancient Technology Centre-Vikings-Galore Living history is used to engage young people and is based on archaeological evidence with a reliance on local traditional crafts, skills and knowledge.  Living history activities are numerous and contribute directly to the maintenance of the site and the development of the buildings, such as laying hedges, or building fences and cob walls, as well as investigating daily life in the past using traditional methods to make fire, work metal in a forge, make felt or weave baskets.  The ATC is very proud to have been awarded the Sandford Award for Heritage Education in 2011 in recognition of its outstanding contribution to heritage education and learning within an historic environment.  The ATC have just joined EXARC (the International Council of Museums Affiliated Organisation representing archaeological open-air museums and experimental archaeology).

 Although the ATC’s primary work is with schools, a series of Open Days has been designed to give members of the general public the opportunity to come and explore the site, learn about our historical past and participate in some of the ancient crafts and skills.  There are also numerous storytelling and musical events scheduled in the Earthouse over the course of the year.  People wanting to learn some ancient skills can sign up to day and weekend courses – the range of courses reflects traditional rural skills.  The ATC is always looking for volunteers to help with ongoing projects, so please get in touch with us – no experience required!Ancient Technology Centre-stone-age-walk-April

 Next events:


‘A Love like Salt’

Storytelling with the Devil’s Violin Company

Saturday 12th May:

With their unique combination of live music and timeless tales, the Devil’s Violin Company (Thanks to funding from the Arts Councils of England and Wales and the John Fell OUP Research Fund) are back with another enthralling performance in the EarthHouse to weave a powerful spell of melody and mood!

Tickets via East Dorset Heritage Trust on 01202 888992. £10 for adults and £5 for children (16 and under) – suitable for 12+


July 28th and 29th

Explore the Viking Longhouse and see Viking and Saxon warriors re-enecat battles of a time long past. Learn about Viking crafts and let the children challenge the Viking warriors to sword fights using wooden weapons!

 Contact the Centre on 01725 517618 for further information on other events and courses, or check our website: