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Butser Ancient Farm (EN)

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The Butser Project started off 1972 as an archaeological field laboratory themed with the Iron Age, funded by the Council for British Archaeology, British Academy and other minor sponsors. By that time, little was known about this period. Dr Peter Reynolds was the driving force for Butser, from the very beginning up until his death in 2001.

Butser Ancient Farm is located in Southern England, 30 kilometres north of Portsmouth. Over the 1970s and 1980s, Butser had great influence on how both archaeologists and the general public across the UK viewed the Iron Age. Butser was and still is an international example to many on how an archaeological open-air museum can work with experimental archaeology.

Thanks to the long breath of the centre, many experiments could be executed which else would never be feasible. The main focus was on experiments with a direct feedback to archaeology, like for example the decay of ditches, post holes or pits. With Reynolds departing, Butser came into trouble until a group of long time associated archaeologists took over.

The “Farm” is designed as a working Iron Age farm in its landscape, including crops and animals. Of major importance is the use as field laboratory for archaeologists, but at present, day trip tourists are also visiting the place, especially at regular events and for workshops and demonstrations. The area has a simple shop and cafeteria.

The ‘raison d’être’ from the very beginning was experimentation. Funding was gathered on a project base, never being able to pay for the infrastructure and day to day administrative business. With Reynolds around – the authority – funding was more easily secured than after 2001.

The founder Reynolds was internationally respected for his well organised experiments. Many other sites across Europe have followed Butser’s example to some extent with for example crop monitoring experiments, taking several years, in Spain and Hungary.

The focus changed already slightly under Reynolds at the end of the 1990s towards more education. For this purpose, the construction of a Roman Villa with Hypocaust was planned. The construction in 2003 was extensively described by Discovery Channel. With facilities for school groups, the Farm can share the financial risk of running the site. With the new Villa, opportunities were created to combine Roman influences with local ones, both in the education programmes as well as in research.

Butser Ancient Farm has a wealth of information materials, there are guided tours, demonstrations and hands on activities, for example in cookery, casting bronze swords, introductions to archaeology or making pottery. Courses are offered as well to archaeology students, aside of custom fit programmes and experiments for academic education as well as research.

School groups extend the guided tour with several activities, but employees of the Farm are also guest teachers at schools. What is taught is carefully tuned with the national curriculum, for example with an introduction into British archaeology, Celts and the Iron Age, the Roman Conquest and their influence on Great Britain, Anglo Saxons & Vikings and food & agriculture.
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Butser Ancient Farm
Chalton Lane, Chalton
PO8 0BG Waterlooville, Hampshire
(44) 2392-598838

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Butser Ancient Farm: The Farm, with on the...
Butser Ancient Farm: The Farm in the morning
Butser Ancient Farm: The farm from close by