Exploring Exeter: Festival of Archaeology 2021
The Council for British Archaeology’s Festival of Archaeology is with us once more. This year, between 17th July and 1st August, RAMM is hosting a series of family-friendly online activities to let you explore the archaeology of Exeter and Devon . . . without even setting foot out of the front door!
Travel back through time with us and, together, we will peel back layer after layer of the region’s rich and varied archaeology, from objects you can see at RAMM to revelations made by the Exeter: A Place in Time Project.
From games, puzzles and craft activities to videos, digital collections and physical trails, there is something for all ages.
Step into the virtual world of Minecraft and explore Roman Exeter; unleash your muse with our online mosaic maker; or snip out those scissors and make a full-sized Roman shield. Immerse yourself in RAMM’s online collection and produce your very own scrap book of objects from Devon’s past, or follow one of our trails to explore the city on foot.
To start your own adventure, simply check out the links below and don’t forget to share any photos or thoughts with us on our social media pages.
Take a virtual tour through 250,000 years, from Exeter’s prehistory to more recent times, an elaborate story pieced together by archaeologists and historians and now told through hundreds of objects from RAMM’s collections.
Our Time Trail walks you through our extensive collection, accompanying the time-travelling narrative with hundreds of pictures of RAMM’s objects, historical paintings and photos of archaeological excavations. You can even put together your own digital scrap book of your favourite artefacts.
Looking for something more structured than a scramble through Time Trails, then check out one of our Curated Collections – it’s like having a personal tour with one of our fabulous collections team.
Each collection focusses on a different theme and is produced by the expert curators and staff at RAMM. There are plenty of themes to choose from, but for the most archaeologically inspired collections, check out-
Dartmoor – a collection of archaeological objects, from Mesolithic arrowheads to Bronze Age axes, which, along with natural history, have inspired artists across the ages.
Ancient Cyprus – jump out of Britain and explore the fascinating archaeology of ancient Cyprus through the objects held at RAMM.
Animal Bone – Archaeologists can learn all sorts of things from excavated animal bones, from prehistoric hunting strategies to medieval dining fashion.
Hembury – a collection of objects revealing facets about the Neolithic causewayed enclosure and Iron Age hill fort in East Devon.
Kent’s Cavern – step back to some of Devon’s deepest prehistory with this collection of finds from Kent’s Cavern
Roman Empire – this collection of objects tells the story of the Roman Empire through the objects at RAMM, from carrot amphora to glass beads, jewellery and even cow skulls!
These are just a selection of archaeologically themed collections produced by RAMM’s experts – be sure to browse through them all here.
Archaeologists often unearth pots, jars and coins, but sometimes they make really incredible discoveries, such as the beautiful mosaic floors of Roman houses. This one was found by archaeologists excavating a town house in Catherine Street, Exeter, and is one of the most elaborate known in Britain.
Use our online Mosaic Maker to design your own fabulous creations to share with your friends (and us of course!)
Go on a virtual journey back through time to explore RAMM’s four archaeologically informed Minecraft maps of Exeter. Wander through the Roman Fortress, the city of Isca Dumnoniorum, Tudor streets or a map based on RAMM’s Hedgeland Model, a miniaturised but highly detailed depiction of 17th Century Exeter.
These maps are available for free to existing players of Minecraft on PC or Mac. Minecraft ‘maps’ are virtual environments or games created in Minecraft, often by players themselves, and made available for others to download and play.
Looking for something to get you out of the house and exploring the city on foot? Just about every street in Exeter is rich in archaeology and history, essentially a trip down memory lane . . . you just need to know where to look!
Luckily, RAMM has already done the leg-work for you and pieced together a series of city tours and trails to get you up close and personal with Exeter’s archaeology.
Find out all about the exciting discoveries made by the Exeter: A Place in Time project, a massive collaboration between RAMM and the University of Exeter, University of Reading, Cotswald Archaeology and Historic England.
The project has combined reinterpretation and new scientific analysis of all Exeter’s archaeology into a single study, shedding new light on the lifeways of the city’s inhabitants over its long history and will directly impact RAMM’s Making History Gallery and online Time Trail.
The year is AD53, you are a Roman soldier in the Second Legion Augusta, trudging into the windswept wilderness of South West Britainnia . . . but to subdue the local population and make them see the benefits of Roman civilisation, you will need to use your ingenuity, from building an army (out of old paintbrushes), to crafting a full sized Roman shield and building a war machine called an Onager.
But the challenges don’t end once you have conquered Britain – you must build and establish your fortress on the banks of the river Exe and introduce the trappings of Roman culture to this untamed land, from making mosaics to building bathhouses, to learning what to wear, how to count and even how to mint your own coins.
Don’t worry – follow our activities below and we’ll soon have you raised up from a common soldier to one of the big players in Rome’s newest outpost – Isca Dumnoniorum. (Feel free to pick and choose any of our Roman activities . . . or complete them all!)
1 – Assemble your army! You can’t conquer Britain alone, so why not makes an army to help you – all you need is an old paintbrush (as many as you like), some paint, cardboard and to watch our step-by-step video below
3 – Congratulations!– you have arrived on the banks of the River Isca (Exe), but you won’t last long without a base to spend the winter in, patrol your new territory and defend against enemies. Follow our guide to learn more about the Roman Fortress at Isca, build your own fortress and adapt to living live as a Roman – maybe you’ll even find time for a game of Tavula!
4 – Going up in the world!– 70 AD: After years serving in the Roman army, you are finally moving up in the world. The legion has left the fortress at Exeter, living behind a new town called Isca Dumnonrium. One of the highlights of the new town is the public baths – Follow our guide to find out all about the Roman baths in Exeter, create a brochure to promote them, make a papier-mache antefix, plan a spa day experience and play a game of Trigon. Ahhh . . . this is the life!
5 – Now you’re living the high life, it’s time to chuck out that soldier uniform and dress like a Roman. Follow our guide to find out what Romans wore, create your own toga or tunic, and a make a brooch.
6 – Well, you may look the part, but now you need to make sure your home reflects your important status! The best way to do that is to show off with a beautiful mosaic – Follow our guide to make one from eggshells, paper . . . or even a pizza!
7 – You’re not going to keep hold of your wealth if you don’t know how to count, measure and look after your hard-earned money! Follow our guide to find out how to measure things using Roman measurements, make a trundle wheel, read Roman numerals and even make some Roman numeral biscuits. You’ll also find out about buried Roman treasure found in Devon and make your own Roman coins.
Ever felt the thrill of digging up a 20 year old ring-pull in your garden? Imagine finding 3,000 year old gold jewellery and weapons! This short video explores the recent discovery of the Dawlish Hoard, a unique find of 3,000 year old gold bracelets, eleven fragments of bronze ingot, two fragments of axe and a section of bronze sword, due to be displayed at RAMM soon.
The Seaton Down Hoard arrived at RAMM in 2017. With 22,888 Roman coins, it is by far the largest coin hoard found in Devon and the third largest ever found in Britain! The coins were found by a metal-detectorist in a field near Seaton in East Devon. They are now one of the most important parts of the museum’s archaeology collection.
Relive the thrill of discovery with this video chronicling the hoard’s journey from across the Roman Empire to a display case here at RAMM.
Don’t worry if you’ve not yet embraced the world of Minecraft to take advantage of RAMM’s maps of the Roman Fortress, city, Tudor Exeter and Hedgeland Model. Watch this short video to get a taste of Isca Dumnonrium as we fly through the blocky streets of the Minecraft recreation. How knows, it may entice you to try it out for real.