The annual Festival of Archaeology kicks off nationwide this weekend, and London has a treasure trove of events going on this year. London history geeks can get their hands dirty digging up the city’s secrets, and there are plenty of family-friendly events for budding archaeologists and their families.
Christ Church, Spitalfields
This grand church, designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor in the 1700s, has an open day, giving the public a chance to explore the interior. The focus is on the Huguenot history in the area with the Huguenots of Spitalfields Society on hand to help visitors find out more and whether or not they have any Huguenot heritage.
Free, just turn up, 11 July, 10am-4pm
Get your hands on some real Roman archaeological artefacts at Guildhall Art Library and learn about the Romans in London. Whatever you do, don’t drop it.
Free, just turn up, 11/13 July
This historic building has reached the grand old age of 900, and to mark the occasion, Wimbledon Museum has an exhibition all about the history of the Priory. Part of the exhibition is compiled by the Museum of London, with information about their recent archaeological digs.
Free, just turn up, 12 July- 2 August
Billingsgate Roman Baths
This rarely accessible Roman house and baths is open to the public for one day only, with curators from the Museum of London and students from University College London on hand to tell the public all about how people lived and bathed in Roman London.
13 July, 11am-4pm
Archaeology by Twilight
Museum of London explores archaeology by twilight at Mortimer Wheeler House in Hackney. For one night only, See the archaeological archive, take a behind-the-scenes tour and catch a glimpse of medieval artefacts.
£8, prebook, 17 July, 6.30pm
All Hallows by the Tower Church in Tower Hill hosts an introduction to Roman London. Use a model of Roman London to see the geography of the city during this period and learn about the significant events that took place locally.
£8, just turn up, 18 July, 10.30am
Tower of London
The City of London Archaeological Society has a weekend of free events at the Tower of London, with a chance to visit Tower Beach, usually closed to the public. Adults and children have the chance to learn how to date an archaeological find and get an insight into an old coin forger’s tricks.
Free, just turn up, 19-20 July
The Canal Museum in King’s Cross is focusing on the industrial archaeology of the buildings used when Norway used to supply London with ice. Visitors will be able to climb down into the two ice wells that are uniquely preserved beneath the museum building and see ice cream being made using Victorian techniques.
Free with admission to the Museum, just turn up, 20 July, 10am-4.30pm
Headstone Manor, Harrow
Museum of London hosts a day exploring the past at Headstone Manor, including buildings which have long since disappeared. There’s also a site tour and medieval re-enactments throughout the day.
Free, just turn up, 20 July, 12pm-4pm
Family Big Dig
Young archaeologists can take part in a 45 minute dig with Museum of London experts at The Charterhouse, learning about the tools of the trade, near to where archaeologists working on Crossrail recently unearthed a Black Death burial ground. Sadly, all adults have to be accompanied by a child for this one, so it’s a good time to put in some babysitting hours.
Free, but prebooking essential, 24 and 25 July, 10am-4pm
Thames Discovery Programme
The Museum of London’s Thames Discovery Programme has events going on along the Thames Foreshore, from the Tower of London to Greenwich.