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Ancient Wessex Network at Max Gate March 2012


Ancient Wessex meets Hardy's Wessex!

Over the weekend of 24th and 25th March 2012 The Ancient Wessex Network are helping the National Trust launch the 2012 season at Max Gate in Dorchester. Max Gate is the house designed and built by Thomas Hardy as his own home.

The event celebrates the prehistoric ceremonial landscape south of modern Dorchester, of which Max Gate to the east of the town is a part.

Thomas Hardy himself was an exponent of early archaeology, he collected and preserved artefacts from excavations at Max Gate and was involved with the town's museum. In his garden he preserved a massive sarcen, later to be identified as
from a Neolithic enclosure surrounding his house. His stories often tell tales set in this ancient Wessex landscape.

The event features presentations, displays and demonstrations of art and craft which explore the landscape and prehistoric material culture. The network brings together Experimental Archaeology with an appreciation of the setting.

Visitors are welcome to come for as long as they like over the weekend, there will be plenty to see and learn about for people of all ages and levels of knowledge. Normal National Trust entries charges apply, but the event is otherwise free.

The event starts on Saturday morning at 11.30am with an introductory presentation by Peter Woodward, who lead the excavations ahead of the building of the bypass nearby. He will put Max Gate into the context of the prehistoric landscape and explain through his drawings the evidence found of huge earthworks and other ceremonial features. Peter will then be available to talk to during the afternoons, while displaying a set of his sketches that show visualisations of the landscape seen from the site.

Upstairs in the Tess Study artist members of the network will hang paintings and photographs inspired by the landscapes described by Hardy.

Outside on the lawns, the Sarcen Stone that Thomas Hardy dug up while building the house will keep watch over practical demonstrations of ancient technologies. There will be bronze and tin casting, pottery making and firing, flint knapping, jewellery making and cooking demonstrations. Some of these activities can be tried by the public, with running commentaries by members of the network.

Much of the work on display will be available for sale during the weekend.

The list of particpating members can be found at this link.

Download a press release with this information at this link.

Event Map

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