Access to Archaeology

We aim to make archaeology accessible and inclusive to all.

Operating as usual


We are busy preparing for a private event at Discover Bucks Museum on Sunday. We are excited to bring our sensory excavation workshop to everyone. Let's hope for nice weather.

Photos from Access to Archaeology's post 05/09/2022

Congratulations to James for winning Marty the mammoth competition. He was super pleased at winning when i phoned.

Throughout the summer we have had our hand drawn mammoth to colour available at Discover Bucks Museum

We love the drawing wall that was created and we've picked 2 of our favourites. Who doesn't love a rainbow mammoth.


Our preparations are underway for the launch of our new workshops, suitable for schools, home education and more. Feel free to contact me for a brochure.

Our new website is under construction too. Exciting times ahead.


Win Marty our Woolley Mammoth. £1 a number between 1 and 100, payment by paypal at [email protected]

Competition closes Bank Holiday Monday 29th at 7pm and I will be contacting the winner shortly after.


Look at who has just popped by our stand, couldn't resist a photo with our bronze age sword. It's the wonderful mayor of Aylesbury. Just 45 mins left to come say hi.

Photos from Access to Archaeology's post 27/08/2022

All set up at Vale Park in Aylesbury, we have trial excavations and activity packs and more. Why not try to win Marty our woolley mammoth.


We are very excited for Parklife this weekend we will be in the Community area all day on Saturday, come along and say hi, we have our FREE mini excavation activity as wells as FREE demonstrations on lucet braiding.

We have lots of exciting goodies for you to purchase including handmade archaeological jewellery, paint your own 3D dinosaur, our activity packs and more. All at affordable prices from £3 up to £10. Guaranteed to keep your children entertained for the rest of the holidays and beyond.

Why not have a go at our competition to win Marty our Woolley Mammoth only £1 a square


Thank you to everyone who came to my talk on 22nd July on archaeology and disability. If you missed it never fear it is available for £2.50 by sending me a message and I will provide PayPal details.

Photos from Discover Bucks Museum's post 29/07/2022

A fantastic event this Saturday, come along and be inspired by nature, enjoy meeting our friendly Bodger and tales on our woodland Tudor room.

Photos from Access to Archaeology's post 23/07/2022

Come on down to Discover Bucks Museum archaeology day with stories, activities such as mini excavations, make your own shield and dress in a toga.

We have the fantastic Roman heads from Stoke Mandeville on display with talks by Dr Rachel Woods about the heads and recent finds in Wendover. These will be available on the Discover Bucks youtube.

The reinactors are fantastic and we have object handling too. Fun for everyone.


Why not delve into the Festival of Archaeology program with this talk on Accessible Archaeology by Victoria at Access to Archaeology on the 22nd July at 7pm

For a limited time only and limited number only tickets can be bought at half price with the ticket type special offer.

Tickets can be bought here:

The talk will be recorded and accessible to review after the session if you are unable to make it. Please purchase a ticket and I can send you the link to the talk.


Dissertation Invite

Aims: To create best practice guidelines to enable people with disabilities or other conditions to undertake a level 2 historic building survey as listed in Historic England’s Understanding Historic Buildings publication.

Methods: We will be critically reviewing the framework of the survey to make them as accessible as possible for people with neurodivergent conditions, sensory problems and physical disabilities or conditions.

This will be done through a series of focus groups of which some will be online, and others will be face to face. These meetings will work through the drawn record, photographic record, and written record to make them as accessible as cheaply as possible to remove financial barriers.

The meetings will be recorded and there will be a forum to discuss points and access the recordings. These will only be accessible by people who are part of the study. Questionnaires will be available for those who do not have time to attend focus groups.

All comments will be recorded and collated to produce the draft guidelines which will then be sent round to participants to review before I finalise them.

There may be the option to test them by undertaking a new building survey.

What time we need from you: You can participate in as many or as few focus groups as you wish, however, more participation would create better guidelines.

How to participate or find out more: please email me at [email protected] and I will arrange a time to meet with you online and discuss the study further. There are participant information sheets as well as consent forms and privacy notices regarding this study.


Looking forward to this talk, the author of many of my university text books.


Deep within the archives at work Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies i came across a folder containing information on an Anglo Saxon Burial in Taplow in Buckinghamshire. It sparked my interest and the following article is the result. I have the references if anyone would like to delve further in this exciting area of Buckinghamshire metaphorically speaking that is. I am not encouraging illicit excavation but the archives can be a wealth of information.

Document Reference: D-X 1136/22

Deep within the strong rooms you can find all kinds of treasures, we never thought amongst the papers of A.H Pack which relate to local history and antiquities that we would come across this envelope of items relating to the Saxon Barrow at Taplow. The envelope contains the springboard that inspired this archive of the month, a lecture about Taplow Court delivered in 1979. It explored the house history and other interesting finds in its grounds.

The Saxon Barrow mentioned in this talk and the photographs that relate to it is part of a Scheduled Monument number 19050, that also encompasses the buried remains of an early Anglo-Saxon Chieftain and later Medieval Church and part of the pagan and Christian cemeteries that is thought to have surrounded these features within the old churchyard immediately South West of Taplow Court (Historic England)
Taplow court is ideally situated due to its elevating on a high chalk ridge and its location to the river Thames for settlement and Bapsey Pond provides a freshwater source of resources. It has had a rich history throughout the past with Neolithic hand axes and the presence of Hillforts as well as later Roman Age occupation.

The history of the Manor is diverse and it underwent different stages of restoration and renovation over the year. The Manor was bestowed to Asgot a retainer of Harold before the Norman Conquest. It was then given by William the Conqueror, after the battle of Hastings, to his half-brother Odo, Bishop of Bayeux. He subsequently let it to Rodger de Beaumont; he sub-let it to the de Turvilles who sold the estate in 1197 to Merton Priory. Sir Henry Guilford was the lifelong Steward of the estate and in 1614 held the lease of the manor. It was bought in 1629 by Thomas Hampson who had a chequered history in the Civil War. It remained in the Hampson’s family until 1770 when it was sold to George Hamilton, 1st Earl of Orkney.

In 1847 it was remodelled in the ‘Old English Style’ before in 1852 it was sold to Charles Pascoe Grenfell who also remodelled the Manor. William Henry Grenfell, later became Lord Desborough, inherited the estate from his grandfather in 1867. In 1946 Taplow Court was leased to British Telecommunications Research in 1946.

The house and present estate of 85 acres were acquired by Plessy Electronics in 1963. More recently since 1988 Taplow court has been the cultural centre of Soka Gakkai International of the United Kingdom (SGI-UK). They are a lay Buddhist organisation dedicated to establishing a more humane society and a peaceful world; it has since been renovated again.

From 1999 to 2005 Oxford Archaeology were engaged in a project prior to the conversion of Plessey outbuildings into a conference hall to look at Taplow Hillfort. As part of this they uncovered Bronze Age through to Anglo-Saxon settlements and place this into the wider archaeological landscape of Taplow Court and its surroundings. It found other Anglo-Saxon burials as part of this project.

Until the 19th Century when the 13th century church fell into disrepair worship had taken place here. The remains of the church were cleared away in 1853 to extend Taplow Court.
The Saxon barrow in the grounds of Taplow Court is represented by a mound or Tumulus that is thought to be the burial of a Saxon Chief, potentially a Chief called ‘Taeppa’ whose name was associated with the mound prior to Doomsday and is preserved in the place name evidence of Taplow.

The mound was excavated in 1883 by James Rutland the Secretary of the Berkshire Archaeological Society and Taplow church organist, somewhat ineptly according to the 2005 Taplow Court Visitors Guide, possibly due to the soil slips and yew tree falling with boulders into the excavation site. He was assisted by Dr Joseph Stevens of Reading who went on to write ‘On the Remains Found in an Anglo Saxon Tumulus at Taplow, Bucks’ 1884. The mound measured 15ft in height at the centre and had a circumference of 240ft and was bell shaped (Stevens 1884). The burial dates from the late 6th century or first half of 7th century, the mound was reconstituted after its excavation and now stands 4m tall and 21m wide (Stocker Et All 1995). It is interesting that Burgess 1887 notes that the British Museum believes the remains to be of Early Saxon date, although they were described in the newspapers as Norse or Scandinavian. The upper stratifications were thought to have been older than the base layers due to the artefacts found. They uncovered an Oak lined burial chamber sunk 2m, below the base of the mound was found and in it traces of a body, the grave had measured 12ft by 8ft thought to be male, wearing gold embroidered robes and accompanied by an impressive collection of grave goods.

The body is thought to have been aligned in an East West position as indicated by the remaining but poorly preserved bone fragments (Stevens 1884). The poor preservation may be due to the Phosphatic chalk soils in the area, making it highly acidic and leaving only the densest bone fragments remaining. The remains found in this barrow are a femur and articulated vertebrae supports the body placement in the grave. Burgess 1887 also suggests that there was a fragment of jaw bone which lay at the eastern end was found and contained one tooth.

The grave goods are now held by the British museum, they include swords, shields, elaborate buckles inlaid with garnet and gilded bronze clasps, drinking horns and a large bronze standing bowl possibly thought to have come from Egypt. Some of the artefacts were thought to be Scandinavian in nature, whilst the twelve sided bronze vase is thought to be distinctly Roman in character. The artefacts in gold and jewels are believed to have been from Paris with Byzantium influence. Based on the grave goods it has been suggested that the burial was that of a Kentish Prince, or at least an ally to a Kentish King (Hawkes 1986) Burgess 1878 suggests that due to the presence of so much treasure and from the Bronze bucket which was used in Saxon ships of war he could possibly have been a hardy pirate who ravaged the coasts and rivers of Britain when the Romans had deserted them. However, Burgess appears to be the only one who has expressed this view. It is interesting that Burgess also notes that the underside of the shield was strengthened with a ring of iron as was the bottom of the bucket; he questions the date of the burial as the transition of the Iron and Bronze age, picking up on the functional rather than decorative nature of some of the artefacts.

James Rutland, the excavator of the mound, believed it to be sited within an Iron Age Hill Fort, he had recorded a ditch which he thought to be the inner ditch of the Hillfort running North/South beneath the former church (Scrimgeour and Farley 1987)

Alongside the lecture there is also a copy of the inscription on the stone on the South Side of the Mount at Taplow Court. It states that the barrow was opened by permission of the Rev. Charles Whatley Rector, C Pearce Sercold, C Seymour Grenfell Church Wardens by James Rutland Parish Clerk on 15th October 1883, and the interesting Anglo Saxon remains discovered are deposited in the British Museum. The envelopes hold copies of photographs of the artefacts from the mounds; including drinking cups, the drinking horn and buckles. It also holds a photograph D-X 1136/22/4 of the placement of the artefacts within the burial with an estimate of the skeleton position, a really useful guide to what the grave may have looked like. D-X 1136/22/7 shows the drinking cup that has been rebuilt, most of the pieces appear to have been excavated. It stands on a plaque stating it is ‘from barrow at Taplow, Bucks, presented by Rev Chas. Whately, 1883’. D-X 1136/22/6 Shows Bapsley Pond it appears to be at a lower level than usual, as indicated by the banks. This is where they have found earlier Hand Axe artefacts and it is believed to be a place where heathen Saxons were baptised by St Berinus would have occurred.


Our brain is a beautifully complex organ that evolved through time and is thought to have been the reason why Homo sapiens survived over Neanderthals. Homo Sapiens evolved to make clothing out of furs, work together in hunting and daily living and look after their injured. This shows a level of care and empathy for their family and friends.

Mental health is very important to us with our work with the lovely people at Lindengate and through our archaeology workshops we aim to enrich peoples knowledge and get them talking with today being World Mental Health day, take time to talk to and listen to your friend, family, colleagues and strangers.


Hello, i work Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies part time and this is a lovely article i wrote for Archive of the month. See photos below and the interesting Article about St Dunstan's Church Graveyard extension. Watch this space for a spooky Halloween workshop in October Half Term.

The Legacy of Saint Dunstan and the Graveyard in Monks Risborough

St Dunstan’s is a quiet, sleepy Grade One listed church that dates to 14th Century in the village of Monks Risborough in rural Buckinghamshire, which is itself one of the oldest recorded parishes in England. You could be forgiven for thinking that this building is stuck in an unremarkable past, but you would be wrong: today it is a hub of activities including an annual flower festival, regular Bucks Art Week shows and a pop-up cinema, in addition to regular church services. As we will see, its history too is far from unremarkable.
The church is dedicated to St Dunstan, a monk from Glastonbury who rose to become Archbishop of Canterbury between 959-988. Dunstan was for many centuries one of the most popular of English saints: there are at least three churches dedicated to him in London alone. However status and fame were not the only reasons that the parish church of Monks Risborough was named after Dunstan: the parish was owned by the Archbishop Canterbury for a period from the 900sAD to 1005.
The parishioners of Monks Risborough church chose to celebrate the millennium of Dunstan’s death, in 1988. In our archive collection we have a pamphlet describing a kneeler that had been embroidered to mark the occasion (PR 176/2/9A/4); alongside this we have a diverse program of their celebratory events held in 1988 (PR 176/2/9A/3).
At the time of the 1066 Norman Conquest, Monks Risborough was a substantial settlement that warranted mention in the Domesday Book. At this time the parish was owned by a monastic order based in Canterbury: the Monks of Christ Church. The land had been given to them in 1005AD by Aelfric, Archbishop of Canterbury, one of Dunstan’s successors. Thus the name ‘Monks Risborough’ derives from this connection with these monks, not the common misconception that there was a monastery in the village.
When you scratch beneath the surface of the Church -quite literally in this case- you uncover the rich tapestry that has made this building and village important throughout history. This was unearthed as part of an excavation that was led by Dr Jill Eyers in 2013, prior to the extension of the graveyard that was proposed in 2010, which was an attempt to better serve the parishioners of the parish. Our collection contains historic photographs of the church in various views, including one unusual image that appears to show fresh mounds of earth in the graveyard, suggesting recent or imminent burials (phPrinces Risborough37).
St Dunstan’s Church has a history of community engagement through events, so it should come as little surprise that the 2013 excavation was a community affair, with local volunteers both amateur and professional, as well as schools and Young Archaeologist Clubs.
The excavation yielded finds from every period of history you could imagine. Evidence was found from the Mesolithic which was around 14,000 years ago right through to post-Medieval times which is generally material from the last 500 years up to the present day.
The zooarchaeological finds show long-term settlement from the Iron Age through to modern day, not surprising given its location in the Chiltern Hills and its proximity to the prehistoric Icknield Way, a long established route for trade and movement. Analysing these animal bone finds gives us a fantastic insight into farming practices and animal husbandry. A total of 1748 fragments have been examined with:
2% Iron Age
2% Roman
3% 5th-9th centuries
1% 10th-11th centuries
7% 12th century
14% Early to Middle Age
3% Roman to 13th century
44% undated layers
An articulated horse was also excavated. This was believed to be of Roman origin; just one of many finds indicating the presence of activity within the Roman period, other evidence included a white chalk floor.
The bones shown here are on loan from Buckinghamshire County Museum. They come from context 130 of the 2013 excavation, which was a layer on top of a fill of context 009. The bones date to around the late 11th to early 12th century. At this spot in the excavation there were a high proportion of cow bones found in a dense area, eleven pieces in total one being the pelvis bone 1584 with straight cut marks and the size indicating that the cow was a juvenile, this suggests that the inhabitants may have been sedentary as dairying was occurring. There are deep puncture marks on 1588 cow femur and extensive erosion on 1576 cow vertebrae; this indicates that the bones may just have been thrown on a rubbish heap after use, and that scavengers could access, who then made a secondary set of marks on the bones.
We also have 1523 cow molar tooth. It shows extensive wear, the root stem is missing in sections and it is unclear whether this is an adult or a juvenile tooth. As with the pelvis, femur and other zooarchaeological finds, this implies that farming was occurring in the 11th and 12th centuries, and that their preferred husbandry pattern was dairying. Elsewhere on this site at context 157, which is a poorly sorted context, we found a pig’s lower jawbone 1631 with at least one tooth; it is thought to be juvenile, and has been dated to late 11th to 12th century which along with other finds indicate a widespread farming and husbandry pattern.
Another intriguing item in the display case is SF011 from context 202. It is a Bronze Age leaf-shaped spear-head fragment and it was found in the fill of cut 201. It was found in with Roman material but is of Bronze Age origin. This could tell us several things: there was settlement during the Roman and earlier periods possibly back to the Bronze Age, or that there was migration of people through the landscape, maybe even Roman Army movement, which is supported by other military-related finds.
Also found were sherds of Roman pottery, indicating use of this site through Roman to the Middle Ages and beyond. One example is the rim of a Roman bowl 2013.8.64 MRDUN13.
In addition to artefacts, the structures left behind enable us to peel back layers into the past. Figure 6.5 shows a curvilinear ditch that suggests an Iron Age round house may have been present on this site; if you are interested in finding out more about this excavation, read the site report: Eyers, Jill. “ St Dunstan’s Church, Monks Risborough, Bucks Archaeological excavation- graveyard extension, Chiltern Archaeology Report No. 130 December 2013”

All artefacts are on temporary loan to the Centre from Buckinghamshire County Museum





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