Butser Ancient Farm is not just a great Hampshire day out – we are also one of the most interesting archaeological sites in the UK, a real working farm that we use as an open-air research laboratory to explore the ancient world.
The farm’s directors are Maureen Page and Simon Jay. They run the business as Butser Education Community Interest Company (CIC), a not-for-profit company.
What can you do at Butser?
If you’re looking for a unique family day out in Hampshire, hands-on activities for children, a beautiful landscape, archaeological research, marvellous animals and fascinating architecture, Butser is the place for you!
Here you can travel back to Ancient Britain and experience it with all your senses: touching, seeing and hearing, smelling wood smoke and perhaps even tasting bread cooked over a crackling fire. You will gain a real sense of the past, from the Stone Age through to the Iron Age and Romans, and finishing with the Anglo-Saxons. Discover what they ate, how they survived and where they slept. Was life a constant struggle or was there time to have fun too?
- Imagine you live in an ancient dwelling
- Create a mosaic masterpiece
- Dig up artefacts in our archaeology pits
- Enjoy a picnic in beautiful surroundings
- Compare ancient technologies
- Feed the goats and sheep
- Listen to special interest talks
- Drink hot chocolate by the crackling fire
- Complete our family quiz
- Play our ‘Native or Not?’ game
- Book onto a unique adult workshop
- Crush chalk for building material
- Meet newborn lambs in the spring
- Build a wattle fence
- Complete our special holiday trails
The story of Butser Ancient Farm began with a decision in 1970 by the Council for British Archaeology to establish a working ‘ancient farm’ where archaeologists could experiment to test their theories on how people lived in Iron Age times. Work started on a trial site known as Little Butser in 1972 and the first public Open Day was in 1974. The project was run by Dr Peter J Reynolds, who combined emerging work in the field of experimental archaeology with teaching classics at Prince Henry’s Grammar School in Evesham.
In 1976 a second site, with better public access, opened in the nearby valley of Hillhampton Down. This provided welcome income and an opportunity to construct some ambitious buildings, such as the Pimperne House, based on excavations in Dorset. In 1991 the project moved to the present site at Bascomb Copse. A vital role was played in the following years by Christine Shaw, who handed the baton on to the new management team in April 2007. There is now an archive of all the material at the Hampshire Record Office with the accession number 63A05D3.
The farm is now a world-renowned hub for archaeological research, carrying out pioneering experiments to understand how the people of ancient Britain lived. The site is also visited by 30,000 schoolchildren a year who come for a fun and unique day out to learn about traditional skills, archaeology and Britain’s prehistory. With an increase in visitors year after year, the farm is developing into one of the top attractions in the country for lovers of history, wildlife, archaeology, animals, architecture and rural life.
Our education staff are experienced, full of fascinating information and passionate about what they do. Leading groups in hands-on activities they encourage children and teachers alike to get the most from their day with us. Find out more about our fun-packed school visits. We also work with students and researchers on a variety of in-depth projects.
Volunteering at Butser Ancient Farm can be very rewarding. There are many ways you can help, from crafts to animal husbandry, helping in the shop to guiding visitors. Other tasks could include daubing, clunching, painting, sweeping, thatching and wattling. You might come for regular weekends, a week in summer or a few shifts. Our volunteers often find that no two days are the same! Click here to join our volunteer crew or find out more.
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