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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Whatever happened to the theme park idea?

Thanks to Kate Dumycz for this one too:

'Crickley Hill may be theme park - Archaeology

Times, The (London, England)-December 30, 1988
Author: Norman Hammond, Archaeology Correspondent

The prehistoric hill fort on Crickley Hill, near Cheltenham, is set to become one of Britain's first archaeological theme parks, if present plans go through.

Neolithic and Iron Age houses will be reconstructed, and staff dressed in appropriate ancient costumes will demonstrate grinding corn, spinning and weaving, and other skills now lost to all but a few craftworkers.

The park will be a joint venture of the Crickley Hill Trust, the body which has carried out excavations on the site for 20 years, and Gloucestershire County Council's Leisure and Recreation Department. The activity area will be east of the archaeological site, on land that does not form part of the ancient monument but still lies within the Crickley Hill Country Park.

The theme park, which will resemble well known and long established continental parks such as Lejre in Denmark, will probably have a circle of round houses at its core, based on those excavated within the Iron Age ramparts of the hill fort. There may also be a longhouse, according to Dr Philip Dixon, of Nottingham University, director of the trust and of the archaeological work at Crickley. It was the first site to yield convincing evidence of Iron Age longhouses in Britain.

The public presentation of Crickley has developed recently with the opening of a visitor centre, in which displays explaining the environment and its use by prehistoric people are complemented by a model of the Iron Age village and by a video programme in which the importance of the site and the discoveries there are explained.

The video was made with a Pounds 1,500 Hepworth Award, one of five given this year to archaeological projects with a promising programme of public presentation.

Excavation has proceeded this year in parallel with the development of facilities and plans for visitors: a number of possible ritual pits have been found, one with horse teeth at the bottom, others filled with hazelnut shells. Dr Dixon speculates that fertility of stock and trees may have been a motive.

While these, and most of the 1988 work, lie within the earlier Neolithic fort of some 5,000 years ago, part of the Iron Age rampart of 600BC has also been excavated.

A shelf was cut into the bedrock to stabilise the bank, which was laced with large timbers. Charcoal from the burning of the fortifications, and heavily reddened limestone, attest to at least one occasion when the strategic location, on a spur of the Cotswolds, and the powerful defences, were not enough.

Record Number: 1016512625
(c) Times Newspapers Limited 1988, 2003'

I think I'm quite pleased this didn't happen ...

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