Ancient Technology Centre Dorset

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01725 517 618

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Areas served:

South West

Damerham Road, Cranborne, BH21 5RP

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January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December


PreSchool, 5 to 7 years, 8 to 10 years, 11 to 13 years, 14 to 16 years, College, University

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 practised.

Listed under: Day Trip Destinations | Art and Design | Bushcraft | Crafts | Historic Buildings | Historical Heritage | Museums | Outdoor Education | Technology | Storytelling | Accommodation & Residential | Design and Technology | Drama / Performing Arts | Geography | History | Leisure and Tourism | Music | PSHE | Science | Residential School Trips

What we offer

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.

What makes us a great choice?

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.

Group Sizes Catered 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.

Materials, Resources & Information Provided

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

Photography, Filming & Audio Restrictions


Risk Assessment Details

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.

Pricing Information

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 and 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.

Clothing Requirements

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

First Aid Information

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.

Available Facilities

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.

Accessibility & Disabled Facilities

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

Opening Hours & Information

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


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

Other 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.


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