Meet Mike the Carpenter

Ever fancied trying your hand at traditional carpentry or woodwork?

This summer we have a brand new range of woodcraft workshops at Butser Ancient Farm with tutor Mike Bennett, who helped build our Saxon workshop and the wickerman for this year’s Beltain festival. You can learn to carve a spoon, weave a split hazel basket, carve wooden patterns, sharpen tools and carve a bowl, all using traditional skills and hand tools.

We still have a couple of spaces left for our workshop on 13-14 May to make a split hazel basket, as well as our workshops in June, July and August. What better way to learn something new within the beautiful surroundings of the South Downs National Park?

Feel free to watch this video where we talk to Mike about his workshops and the joy of working with sustainable green wood:

If you’d like to book on, simply visit our website here: www.butserancientfarm.co.uk/adult-workshops

The Coppiced Wickerman

Meet the woodland team building our 30ft wickerman for Beltain 2017!

Ken and Mike use traditional woodland management techniques like coppicing, which is an ancient skills that creates fantastic habitats for wildlife and provides a sustainable building material for us to use. Essentially, deciduous trees are grown in copses and their branches are lopped off for materials; the stumps are then left to grow in rotation to produce more wood for the future.

The wickerman design for 2017 is yet to be revealed, so be sure to book your tickets for Saturday 29 April and watch it go up in flames! Take a look at the video below to meet the build team and learn more about traditional woodland management. You can also book onto one of our carpentry workshops with Michael Bennett (as seen in the video), with the chance to carve a spoon, bowl or weave a wicker basket.

New Gift Shop Revealed

We’re delighted to reveal our sparkling new gift shop, which was refurbished at the end of March 2017! With generous funds from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development Europe, the shop has been brightened up with new units, lights and shelves, as well as a sink for the coffee machine and a new display area.

We welcome thousands of visitors and schoolchildren every year, many of whom visit the shop to buy souvenirs, browse our bookshelves for historical titles, or simply enjoy a cup of coffee overlooking the farm. We have struggled with poor lighting and lack of storage, but with the new refit we are now able to properly welcome visitors and use gift shop profits to raise more money for our archaeological projects.

The shop also includes a dedicated freezer for selling our rare breed meat, as well as an interpretation area to display artefacts and information on prehistory.

The site is now open seven days a week for our summer season, and it’s the perfect time to enjoy spring in the rolling hills of the South Downs National Park. This Easter we have a riddle trail for families to take part in, as well as our flock of newborn lambs who spend their days frolicking on the hill. See you soon!

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With thanks to the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development Europe.

Special Delivery

We’ve just had a huge load of thatching straw delivered for the roof our new Danebury roundhouse! It was certainly a complicated task for the driver to position the lorry at our gate, but then he is used to delivering to tiny rural cottages in the middle of nowhere…

The thatch will now be moved undercover to protect it from the drizzle, and we will soon start bundling it up and securing it to the roundhouse roof. We still hope to have the new roundhouse finished by Beltain, so come along and have a look before watching the wickerman burn to the ground! It’s the perfect way to welcome in the summer months with our local community. Book your tickets here!

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Building the Wickerman

With only a few weeks to go until our spectacular Beltain festival on Saturday 29 April, our wickerman is beginning to take shape! The team have been out in the spring mists this morning, having made hazel hurdle pieces off site and brought them in to fix onto the body.

Ken, Darren and Mike are all professional woodworkers, with a range of skills including hurdle making, wood carving and treewrighting – you may recognise Darren as the mastermind behind our Saxon longhouse. They all work in sustainable local woodlands, using coppiced hazel and British wood to make our fantastic wickerman.

As always, the design will not be revealed until the night of Beltain, so book your tickets today to see the final sculpture and watch it burn to the ground! The Beltain festival is an ancient Celtic celebration that welcomes in the warm summer months, and the wickerman is a way to please the gods so they will bless us with a good harvest.

See you there!

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