Consuming Prehistory: feeding Stonehenge follow-on-fund

Lead Research Organisation: University of York
Department Name: Archaeology

Abstract

Stonehenge, Britain's iconic prehistoric monument, continues to fascinate. Thanks to recent research including a new series of excavations undertaken over the last 10 years, the public's appetite for the story of Stonehenge is a voracious as ever, demonstrated by countless documentaries, popular books and a new visitor centre at the site. Here we wish engage new audiences with the remarkable detailed evidence for the consumption of food at Stonehenge, that has recently come to light through the Feeding Stonehenge Project (FSP) funded by the AHRC. Food is central to all our lives, forming the structure of our days and lying at the heart of many social events. At the same time, food is the focus of many health concerns, with advice on the quality, quantity, type and source of food never far from the front page or the screen. This project will tap into this public appetite for all things edible by providing a prehistoric perspective on how foods were treated (acquired, prepared and consumed) in Neolithic Britain. We will show how scientists have made these discoveries through examination and molecular analysis of bones and artefacts, focusing on those recently excavated from the Stonehenge monumental complex. Through these twin core themes (food and science), we aim to substantially extend the reach and significance of the original research.

To do this we will embed a post-doctoral researcher within English Heritage (EH) during their temporary exhibition "Feast! Food and Feasting at Stonehenge''. As an archaeological scientist, the PDRA will train staff and volunteers, and collaborate with the EH interpretation team to develop creative engagement activities whilst ensuring that these are aligned to the original Feeding Stonehenge research. In addition to the exhibition, we will bring in specialists (food interpreters and artists) and work with the local community to recreate some of the food procurement and culinary practices at the visitor centre through a series of workshops designed to engage the public. Working with the EH educational team and STEM Learning, the largest provider of science education and careers support to schools, we will develop primary and secondary schools resources to enthuse young scientists in the scientific aspects of the original research. Finally, we will create and deliver workshops to engage families adn young people at national cultural events through expertise and networks developed by Cardiff University's outreach group, Guerilla Archaeology. Guerilla Archaeology takes archaeology to new audiences at music festivals; these hugely popular 3-4 day events are fast becoming the most exciting places to creatively engage with research, and provide the potential to bring entirely new audiences to prehistory. Guerilla Archaeology will help us to deliver pop-up, provocative and highly interactive events that make the past present for younger audiences, and stress the important role that both scientific enquiry and cultural reflection can bring to our understanding of ancient, modern and future lives.

We will evaluate the effectiveness of transferring our key messages to the large number of visitors to the Stonehenge Visitors Centre, festival goers and the local community using embedded evaluation, face to face surveys and online questionnaires. By end of the project, will we have transferred knowledge to EH staff, artists and food interpreters, members of the community local to Stonehenge, and the Guerialla Archaeology team who will be well placed to continue the dissemination activities leaving a legacy to this project. We also will have created a series of online schools resources that will be freely available and preserved for the foreseeable future and which can be easily expanded or used as template by other cultural heritage agencies.

Planned Impact

The beneficiaries of the project will be:

1. Communities local to Stonehenge - a series of workshops and consultations with community groups will inform the design for activities at the Stonehenge Visitor Centre. Involving local people in heritage themed arts, culture and science initiatives, tailoring learning experiences to community groups interests, and providing training for delivering outreach will develop new life opportunities, create novel links to the past communities of Stonehenge and provide tangible social benefits.

2. Visitors to Stonehenge - the delivery of workshops will enhance and extend the significance of an exhibition focusing on prehistoric food and archaeological science for the estimated 1.6M annual visitors to Stonehenge, many of whom are adult international visitors.

3. Attendees at National Music and Arts Festivals - through collaboration with Guerilla Archaeology, thousands of people at three festival events will be engaged with archaeological research. Festival audiences have a different demographic composition to the traditional visitors to Stonehenge, i.e. young adults. Embedding science within arts and culture outreach at festivals will increase young people's engagement with informal science learning outside traditional educational environments.

4. Science teachers and students - educational audiences will benefit from three online resource packages (Key Stages 2,5,6) tailored to the National Science curriculum. Hosted on the STEM website these resources will be freely available to learning groups nationally.

5. Practitioners - working with archaeologists and EH will embed research within the practice of Artists and Food Interpreters, stimulating new ideas and provide the opportunity to reach entirely new audiences.

6. Public sector agencies - English Heritage benefit from training and knowledge exchange to develop and enhance the skills and the commitment of staff and volunteers, the provision of materials to attract new audiences, design and delivery of workshops to augment on-site visitor experiences and engagement at the Stonehenge Visitor Centre. They will also commercially benefit from the development of new audiences, additional memberships and increase spend at Stonehenge. English Heritage and other Heritage organisations will benefit from the development of new models for disseminating research associated with scheduled monuments which will generate new audiences both at and away from sites across the nation. The project will benefit STEM Learning (the largest provider of STEM education and careers support to young people in the UK) by providing educational resources. The project will enhance and strengthen co-production partnerships through the active engagement of new collaborations (e.g. EH, STEML and festivals), and the consolidation and development of established institutional partnerships.

7. Art and cultural event businesses. will benefit from enhanced audience experience from the outreach and engagement events we propose.

8. Outreach Groups - knowledge exchange, skill and expertise will be developed within GA team members. These individuals often comprise of students and community members from across the UK; co-creating and delivering outreach and engagement events provide them with a range of life and career skills

9. An Early Career Researcher - will be provided with training and opportunities to acquire the skills and expertise needed to maximise the impact of their own research, and develop professional networks.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Feast exhibition (Stonehenge visitor centre Sep 17- Sep 18): This year long exhibition takes food as its central theme and will a) explore what people ate during the time of Stonehenge; b) examine how Stonehenge itself was provisioned; c) present how foods were prepared and consumed in preshistory; and d) reveal the science underlying these archaeological discoveries. Visitor numbers forthcoming, impact details and testimonials. The SVC is the UK's most visited attraction outside London and unparalleled in terms of reach, we estimate that the exhibition was visited by over a million people many from overseas. 2. Festivals and outreach events: Prehistoric food has been a central theme at a series of events aimed at challenging the general public regarding their a priori knowledge. In 2018 consuming prehistory was the theme of the Guerilla archaeology group with activities at four major music and popular culture festivals New Scientist Live (Sep 18), Feast (SVC - 2 days, Sep 18) - bespoke festival aimed at communicating research to public - public talks, demonstrations, cooking, menus etc. 3. Educational resources: We have created as series of web based educational resources to be delivered nationally to KS2 (Primary), KS4 (GCSE) and KS5 (A-Level) informed by the research at Stonehenge. These have been created in collaboration with the EH educational team, by STEMLearning (the largest provider of STEM education and careers support to schools, colleges and other groups working with young people across the UK). Each resource is closely aligned with the relevant curriculum and aims to engage young people in the science behind the original research conducted.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Education
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description English Heritage 
Organisation English Heritage
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We provided research data to support an exhibition at the Stonehenge Visitor Centre run by English Heritage. This involved consultations in the design and content of the exhibition.
Collaborator Contribution English Heritage partly comissioned an event at the Stonehenge Visitor Centre to allow us to disseminate the research to a large number of international visitors to the site.
Impact Feast exhibition at Stonehenge Visitor Centre.
Start Year 2018
 
Description STEML 
Organisation National STEM Learning Centre
PI Contribution We collaborated on a series of resources for schools that brings the scientific research on food and diet undertaken a Stonehenge to KS2, 4 and 5 schoolchildren.
Collaborator Contribution Designing the resoruces, lesson plans, videos of researchers in action, consultancy on the underlying science.
Impact Set of web resources that available for schoolteachers nationally.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Bryn Celli Ddu 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Heritage event at a Neolithic tomb in North Wales for solstice. We enhanced public experience of the heritage site and explored the importance of feasting for monuments - changing people's understanding of food and sociality in the past.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Feast weekend Stonehenge Visitor Centre 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Outreach event on prehistoric food at the Stonehenge Visitor Centre that reached several thousand visitors and lead to an increase in visitor dwell time at the centre and exhibition. Commanded by site managers and evidence of influencing the English Heritage's policy.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/stonehenge/history-and-stories/history/food-and-fea...
 
Description Festival outreach event: Blue Dot Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A festival public outreach event showing latest research in understanding prehistoric food. Feedback collected by visitors showing change in perception of food in the past.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://consumingprehistory.wordpress.com/
 
Description Green Man festival outreach 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A festival public outreach event showing latest research in understanding prehistoric food. Feedback collected by visitors showing change in perception of food in the past.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://consumingprehistory.wordpress.com/
 
Description Lecture at Stonehenge Education Centre 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Talk on the archaeology of feasting delivered at Stonehenge. Talk was focused on the English Heritage volunteers who help engage public at the site. The talk provided new information and enabled interactions for ongoing communication and workshops.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Lunar Festival Outreach 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A festival public outreach event showing latest research in understanding prehistoric food. Feedback collected by visitors showing change in perception of food in the past.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://consumingprehistory.wordpress.com/
 
Description New Scientist Live Outreach Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Outreach at the New Scientist Live event (London Exel) reaching several 1000 school children and the general public. Data collected on engagement activities and how view have changed on food in the past.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://live.newscientist.com/
 
Description Ready Steady Feast! 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Special event in which ex-service men and women worked in teams to cook meals using only Neolithic ingredients. Archaeology is being used to help support these service people. Participants learnt new skills and information and reported changes in views.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Scarborough Science Fair 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Event reached over 2000 secondary school children and 500 members of the public. We enhanced public knowledge of archaeological science and explored the importance of feasting - changing people's understanding of food and sociality in the past.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Settlement Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 4 day event preceding Greenman festival. Event offered visitors a chance to get interactive with prehistoric food - participating in foraging walks and reconstructing ancient recipes. We worked with foragers and children's chefs to coordinate this event. People made links between past and present food concerns and preferences and we had return visitors on multiple days. Over 1000 people engaged with.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Trackway Opening 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Event and activities at the opening of a Neolithic replica trackway. We enhanced public experience of the heritage site and explored the importance of feasting for monuments - changing people's understanding of food and sociality in the past.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018