The Ancient Technology Centre has developed a unique program of hands on learning for children of all ages.
We believe that children should explore their surroundings, environment and history through an exciting blend of full scale building projects and traditional skills and crafts. Our starting point is archaeology and this informs the many buildings and activities that we offer. Our goal is to enable children to genuinely experience aspects of daily life in the past, we encourage hard work, sweat and blisters in the context of seasonal and sustainable practice, the results of this hard work is plain to see.
We are now open our amazing site to the public check our Public Events page for more details. We hope to see you soon!
The ATC began over 25 years ago as a school project. Jake Keen, a teacher working at Cranborne Middle School, designed and led the building of an Iron Age roundhouse based on archaeological evidence.
Uniquely, Jake’s ethos demanded the construction and material gathering to be undertaken by school children. The harvesting of materials took place in local woodlands and reed beds and after 6 months, the children began work on building the structure. A year of hard work saw the completion of the roundhouse and marked the beginning of the Ancient Technology Centre.
Over the years, schools became interested in the roundhouse project and began to visit in small groups. Further buildings were constructed – always with the focus placed on experimental archaeology and hands on child participation.
The ATC flourished with the addition of Reg Miles, a Dorset man who has worked at the centre ever since. Reg brought many traditional skills and a wealth of practical knowledge to the centre, and much of our teaching is still based on his unrivalled knowledge and enthusiasm for teaching young people.
In 2012 the Ancient Technology Centre was commissioned by English Heritage to carry out an experimental archaeology programme to reconstruct Neolithic houses. The design of these houses was based on evidence uncovered at Durrington Walls, near Stonehenge, by the Stonehenge Riverside Project (2003-2009). The remains of seven late Neolithic houses were found, and these are thought to be part of a much larger settlement dated to the middle of the third millennium BC.
Our largest reconstruction to date has been the Viking Longhouse. The evidence for this building comes from the Royal garrison forts of Denmark where these houses formed quadrangles within circular ramparts and seem to have housed a ship of men each.
After looking at original excavation reports and post hole plans we opted to reconstruct a 26 metre – bow sided hall to act as a residential facility for the centre. Construction started in 2007 and finished in 2010.