How often do we notice ancient London? Churches and cathedrals, yes. But these are mere Jonnie-come-latelys compared with some of the relics skulking about town. The inquisitive Londoner can find all kinds of antiquaria - chunks of Roman wall, traces of ancient rivers, the museum leftovers of vanished tribes and civilisations, the enigmatic London Stone and, older yet, Cleopatra's Needle on Embankment. A new festival, with both real-world and virtual activities, celebrates all that is venerable in London. Over the next few weeks, the Ancient World in London Festival promises 'lectures, tours, workshops...articles, forums, videos...and 3D virtual recreations of some of the great sites around London'.
Although it's only just begun, the project already has plenty to get your teeth into, including a quest to accumulate pictures of ancient monuments in London, contests, a video series, and a quiz of Anglo-Saxon London.
It's a heady mixture. Indeed, their web presence may be a little too mashed-up for some tastes - Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, cross-platform games, virtual worlds... It can feel like you're hacking through a hanging garden of social media games and extraneous plugins just to find basic information. Perhaps they've overstretched a bit, piling on the interactivity in an effort to make the ancient seem hyper-modern. Coherence is sacrificed on a Druidic alter, as the imps of misrule scatter content like discarded wishbones at a Viking feast. So to speak.
But don't let our grumpian ways put you off. There are genuine riches here if you're prepared to get stuck in. There's also a strong sense of humour throughout, which kind of makes us feel a little guilty for being critical just now...damn their friendly ways.
Much more is promised soon, with the project running until 24 April. Cunningly, the organisers have built in a little game where participants are awarded points for contributions. If you can accrue 1066 points by the end of the whole extravaganza, you're in with a chance of winning a mystery prize. Our advice, to get a handle on this sprawling game-event-festival-guidebook thing, is to follow their Twitter feed and see where it takes you.