Anthropology of religion

Guerrilla Archaeology: Creative Engagement at Festivals

My Day of Archaeology post will feature one project in particular: my involvement in a new creative engagement project which sees a group of like-minded Cardiff based archaeologists, artists and scientists bring the past alive at festivals! This is quite a new thing for archaeologists in Wales, and perhaps the UK, and I believe there’s huge potential to engage with new and broader audiences through this kind of outreach – people that may not usually come and join in on a typical archaeology open day for instance.

Guerrilla Archaeology is bringing a range of shamanic activities to four festivals around the UK this summer, offering a chance to come and encounter shamans, past, present and future through archaeology, art, sound and movement. You will be able to explore shamans around the world – who are they, what do they do and how do they think? We’ll be offering you the chance to immerse yourself in shamanic ideas, music, movement and transformation by the use of drums, disguise and ceremony. You will be able to come and dress as a shaman and watch as our experimental archaeologist shows you how to create your own shamanic headdress, or join in on a shamanic drumming workshop, shamanic toolkit or totemic art workshop…. or just come along to meet our own resident shaman!

My own background is in the archaeology of worldviews, and this project perfectly pulls together a range of my favourite things, especially the practice and study of shamanism. I studied for a PhD in Neolithic archaeology at Cardiff University, and this project sees  a group of us coming together to celebrate our love of archaeology in a fun, interactive way. You can meet the whole collaborative team on our wordpress blog here: http://guerillaarchaeology.wordpress.com/

Practically yesterday, the true Day of Archaeology, I spent most of my day designing and developing a new evaluation form to be used at our Guerrilla Archaeology venture, but also as part of my work at Cadw (which is the historic environment service for the Welsh Government), where I work as the Public Engagement and Welsh Manager. My work is varied but challenging. In fact, I’d consider this job harder than doing a PhD (and I’d totally love to to another one!). The idea for the evaluation form came from my own experience of dreading the end of a training course or event and having to fill out a boring form… so I have created and designed something that will hopefully encourage people to fill the sheet in. It’s not your normal evaluation form, and I haven’t even tested them out, so I’m going to keep the design a secret until we put them to the test at Secret Garden Party – our first festival outing, but don’t worry you’ll get to see them soon, as we will be posting photos of the completed evaluation forms on the Guerrilla Archaeology blog, so watch out for them if you’re following progress…

The second job for me on the Day of Archaeology was to write another ‘shamans through time’ blog for the project. I have been creating these as resource packs that can be viewed on the wordpress blog and we will also have these are packs for people to read at the festivals themselves. The next blog is the Bronze Age shaman, which focuses on the Upton Lovell burial in Wiltshire. I’ve literally just finished that, so it’s hot off the press… have a look here: Bronze Age shamanism?

Lastly, but maybe most excitingly, I thought I’d let you all have a sneaky peak at the shamanic toolkit I’ve been putting together. It was actually quite useful to set everything out to see exactly what I’ve got to take with me and to visualise what needs to be added. The head-dresses look fantastic, but the challenge now is to create a way to attach these to our heads! A bit of a puzzle indeed!

Shaman’s toolkit
© Ffion Reynolds

Detail of a shamanic offering, it’s interesting to experiment here…
© Ffion Reynolds

A full view of my shamanic toolkit so far. Includes: shaman’s staff on the left; antler head-dress with added ochre; pottery; bone flutes and whistles; flint implements; quartz; beads and organic materials; perforated shells; animal skin.
© Ffion Reynolds

Just before I go, make sure you check us out on twitter @guerrillaarchaeo… I also got these in the post:

New cards!

Hope everyone has enjoyed the Day of Archaeology, so many things happening around the world…

– it’s great just to browse through everyone else’s posts!

Ffion Reynolds