Region: South West

Disabled Facilities: Yes

Category: Day Trip Destinations

Address: Damerham Road, Cranborne, Dorset BH21 5RP

Contact: 01725 517 618



The Ancient Technology Centre offers visiting groups the opportunity to learn and experience first-hand the skills and crafts that our ancient and not so distant ancestors practiced.  All within its unique environment of reconstructed buildings ranging from a Neolithic log structure, a Bronze Age stone house and sheep enclosure, a late Bronze Age/ Early Iron Age Earthouse, an Iron Age Roundhouse, a Roman Forge and Workshop, a Saxon Sunken House, and a Viking Longhouse.  

There are many additional features adorning the site including a monolith, Roman road, an Iron Age defensive ditch, a working Roman Water lifting machine (as seen on Time Team), a working Roman hypocaust and kiln, a working field system of edible plants as well as ancient/rare breed animals (pigs, sheep and chickens), all of which provide a focus for different activities.  

We also hold a vast array of quality reproductions of everyday household items, tools, trinkets, clothing, weaponry and armour, as well some beautiful museum-grade archaeological finds which we use to support the teaching on a day to day basis.

Why is this venue great for School Trips and Educational Visits?

The Ancient Technology Centre’s ethos has remained consistent over the years and we believe that children should explore their surroundings, environment and history through an exciting blend of full scale building projects and traditional skills and crafts.  Our starting point is archaeology and this informs the many buildings and activities that we offer. 

Our goal is to enable children to genuinely experience aspects of daily life in the past.  We encourage hard work, sweat and blisters in the context of seasonal and sustainable practice, the results of this hard work is plain to see. Schools choose to come to us from far and wide in order that their children might experience our unique way of direct hands-on learning.

What does a typical school trip or educational visit include?

We cater for different key stages from Reception through to Upper School, and also for FE students, as well as for pupils with learning difficulties.  Our activities cover a range of curriculum topics including Technology, History, Science, Art, Music, Literacy, Drama & Storytelling, Sustainability, PSHE and Citizenship. 

Our approach is cross-curricular and we are happy to tailor our activities to highlight other subject areas. Each visit specifically caters to the needs of the group and is carefully planned at a pre-visit meeting with teachers.

The Ancient Technology Centre offers a seasonal range of Day Visits, Residentials, Team Building and Outreach Construction projects and Camps.

Day Visits : Our Summer programme runs from the beginning of March to end of October and is based on site, providing an extensive range of traditional activities such as fire making, rope making, felt making, grinding wheat/making bread, natural dyeing, blacksmithing, pole lathing, farming and many more. Our Winter programme runs from the beginning of November to the end of April and can be based on site and/or in the local woodlands, focusing primarily on coppicing and traditional woodland activities such as green woodworking, fence and structure building.  We offer 3 different types of Winter days:

•    an ‘ATC site-based day’ learning to make fire, build fences and farm;

•    a ‘Split Day’ learning Coppicing /Woodland Management in the woods in the morning and afternoon activities making fire and building fences back at the ATC;

•    or a full ‘Woodland Day’ learning coppicing/woodland management and green woodworking activities in our Woodland Camp.  

Residential Visits are based in and around our Viking Longhouse and run from the beginning of April to the end of October. They provide a fantastic first-hand experience of life on a working Viking Farmstead, where the children dress in traditional outfits and partake in necessary daily activities such as preparing authentic meals (stew, flat breads, fresh cheese and butter) and helping to cook them over an open fire, chopping firewood, mending fences and maintaining the longhouse, tending to crops and animals, and even learning traditional board and outdoor games.  

Team Building

The ATC can cater for Team Building days for students, providing specifically tailored activities to promote problem solving, team cohesiveness and outcomes which promote and explore different learning styles. We also offer Team Building for adults.

Outreach Construction projects and Camps.

We offer a bespoke service to schools to design a unique outdoor classroom from naturally sustainable materials, which can be almost entirely constructed with the help of the schoolchildren and staff.  A roundhouse construction can be a standalone project or can be included as part of an outreach camp at the school, offering a unique opportunity for the entire school community to explore historical contexts through carefully planned hands-on activities. Equally, we can offer outreach camps without the inclusion of a roundhouse construction and are also happy to design a series of Outreach Camps to explore different time periods over the course of several years.


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What size groups do they cater for?

We cater for one class size of 33-35 children per Day or Residential visit, although we can have a Day visit running simultaneously with a Residential visit.  Outreach construction projects and camps can involve much greater numbers of pupils and adults.

What can they provide you with to support your school trip or educational visit?

We do not provide handouts as a general rule, but can provide additional materials, if requested.


Can you take photos, video or audio? Are there any copyright restrictions?



How do you arrange a risk assessment?

Prior to any visit, teachers must be involved in a planning meeting at which time all elements of the visit are discussed.  Risk assessments for general site safety as well as for specific activities are provided to the school prior to the visit.


What does it cost?

Day Visits

Charges are per GROUP, depending on size, with no charge made for accompanying adults

1st April 2013 – 31st March 2014

For up to 20 Students (1 ATC staff member)
Dorset County Schools:  £250
Non Dorset County Schools: £260
For 21- 35 Students (2 ATC staff members)
Dorset County Schools: £360                                                                                       Non-Dorset County Schools: £370

1st April 2014 – 31st March 2015

For up to 20 Students (1 ATC staff member)
Dorset County Schools:  £260
Non Dorset County Schools: £270
For 21- 35 Students (2 ATC Staff members)
Dorset County Schools: £370
Non-Dorset County Schools: £380

Residentials: for minimum of 10 to maximum of 35 students

Dorset County Schools
Tuition : £360 a day
Facilities charge £110 per block visit
Residential charge £ 20 per student

Non-Dorset County Schools: £370 a day
Facilities charge £110 per block visit
Residential charge £ 22 per student

1st April 2014 – 31st March 2015 rates increase as for day visits

Outreach Construction Projects & Camps – require 2 ATC staff members, as above.  Price per project will depend on the number of days required to complete the project. Additional materials will be charged separately, where needed, e.g. thatch or clay, and for travel where deemed necessary.

Team Building – with students, based on Day visit prices.  Team building for adults based on application.


Is specific clothing required?

This is discussed at the planning stage, and unless specified in the planning, the ATC will provide safety goggles, aprons and gloves where necessary.


Do you have first aid on site?

All of our ATC Staff hold valid First Aid certificates.  An external Qualified First Aider is required for Residentials, as the ATC staff will not be on site overnight.

What facilities do they have for school trips and educational visits?

Day visit groups are asked to bring packed lunches and are able to eat them in one of the designated buildings.

Residential groups eat in the Longhouse.  There is a small shop, The Trade Tent, currently only available to Residential visitors – decided at the planning meeting. Children can bring a small amount of pocket money for this.

We have modern toilets and a shower block, as well as additional toilets and a disabled toilet in the Viking Longhouse.

Are there disabled facilities?

The majority of our site and constructions are accessible by wheelchair, and we have disabled toilets in our Viking Longhouse.


What are your opening days and hours?

We are Term-time only, however, we can make special arrangements to have visiting groups outside Term time.


Do you have any testimonials from previous customers who have visited you on an educational visit?

"The ATC stimulates and inspires children to enjoy learning outdoors in a practical way. The expertise of the staff and volunteers at the centre is also ensuring that skills and crafts do not die out." - Peter Farrington, Head Teacher The Prince of Wales School, Dorchester

"I had a beautiful day yesterday. I wished I could come again. I loved doing everything but my favourite exciting activity was blacksmithing"
Gabrielle, Class 7 at Wimborne First School

“Staff knowledge and engagement was first class. Children got a real insight into the period (Iron Age and Romans) to support their classroom learning”
Pimperne Primary School

"The children all said they wanted to stay longer and this was a really unique experience for all of us. It was hugely educational in the broadest sense." - Claire Mackavoy, Westfield Arts College.

“A Dorset first school in the village of Corfe Mullen has set about a school-wide hands-on history project on the Stone Age working in partnership with the nearby Council-run Ancient Technology Centre. Even the youngest children in Foundation (age 4-5) are involved, which is remarkable in itself as children of this age group very rarely have the opportunity to learn about any form of ancient history.

My visit showed me that the reaction to the project has been fantastic, both from children of all age groups and from parents, with the children producing some amazing work in their classrooms and at home. The depth and hands-on nature of the teaching model being used is inspirational with activities like cave painting, fire making and making primitive tools bringing history refreshingly to life. The “monolith moving” afternoon I witnessed was a sight to behold. Never have children so small moved such an enormous heavy object just with ropes and poles and learnt so much about how the Ancients did it in the process. Even the temporary classrooms for the project have been constructed from wood and other natural materials. A truly amazing initiative!“
From BBC,Roger Hammett


Is there anything else that you feel is important and want to include in your information?

We hold the Sandford Award for Heritage Education for our outstanding provision to schools. Here are some extracts from the final report published in July 2011:

The ATC “has designed a unique integrated programme for a group, developing teamwork, craft skills, creative thinking, social skills, problem solving and of course the use and interpretation of historical evidence”.

“The impression is of a working ancient village, especially as staff and children are seen doing work, not just visiting.  In the end, this is the key element which sets the whole educational experience apart from other heritage sites”

“The cross-curricular nature of the activities meant that they could be linked to school work at many points; while the focus was historical, the visit enhanced many other areas, especially literacy, science and technology”.

“....two children use a replica Viking saw to cut logs… in our cotton-wool wrapped society this is exactly the kind of real experience that children get at the Ancient Technology Centre.  They also get to use sharp knives, cook on open fires, move heavy weights and select plants to go into stews they will eat later.  All the while, though, the environment is a safe one, well managed, and ancient technology is not the only thing they learn about – they also learn something about themselves.  Excellent”

We are the recipients of the South West Regional Local Authority Building Construction Award for our Viking Longhouse (awarded in 2011).

The ATC have been contracted by English Heritage to build several reconstructions of Neolithic houses at the new Stonehenge Visitors’ Centre in early 2014, which involved a primary-phase build at Old Sarum, near Salisbury, delivering training to EH volunteers and educational workshops to local schools.

We are running a project in conjuction with Dorset RSPB and HLF to manage and deliver a programme of traditional water reed harvesting and collection at Radipole Lakes with local schools and the local public.

In addition to our work with schools, we try to be educational with the general public, offering several public events every year including those providing re-enactors and living history (our Stone Age, Viking and Roman Weekends) as well as traditional seasonal days (Spring, Autumn Harvest and Apple, and Winter) where visitors can participate in a range of traditional seasonal activities.

Age of Children / Pupils: Pre-school 5 – 7 years 8 – 10 years 11 – 13 years 14 – 16 years College University

Type of Visit: Bushcraft Crafts Historic Buildings Historical Heritage Museums Outdoor Education Residential School Trips Science & Technology Storytelling

Curriculum Topics Covered: Art and Design Design and Technology Drama Geography History Leisure & Tourism Music PSHE Science

Months Open: All Year Round January February March April May June July August September October November December

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