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Unlock the secrets of the past

This news article was published more than a year ago. Some of the information may no longer be accurate.

Published: 23/07/2012

Built in 1342 for the Lord of the Manor, Sir Thomas de Bradestone, this is one of the most significant historical sites in South Gloucestershire.

Throughout the day, there will be a range of archaeological activities for you to enjoy and take part in including excavations, demonstrations of Bronze Age metal working and medieval archery along with a re-enactment of life in the Roman period and also during the Second World War. Children can get their hands mucky at a pot making workshop and visitors can also learn about the history of the barn and its landscape during a number of guided walks. These include a trip to the fishponds, a dovecote and the church of St Michael’s in the heart of Winterbourne.

Inside the barn you can find out about how cider has been made over the years while stall holders from local history and archaeology groups will talk to you about what they are doing in the local area and show you some of their historic collections.

The barn has been carefully restored by us and English Heritage and the seven surviving bays of its magnificent 14th century raised cruck roof are amongst the finest examples of medieval roof construction in the country, demonstrating craftsmanship of the highest quality. What gives the building added significance is that similar barns constructed were tithe barns whereas Winterbourne Court Farm barn demonstrates the wealth and importance of a private family.

You can also take part in a range of activities throughout the day such as geophysics, building recording, handling and identification of archaeological artefacts and even try making your own prehistoric tools at a flint knapping demonstration.

Paul Driscoll, the council’s community archaeology officer and part-time archaeology tutor at the University of Bristol, said: “South Gloucestershire has a rich and varied archaeological heritage from Iron Age hill forts to Roman towns, Saxon churches and medieval barns. Come along to one of our events and find out more about the area in which you live. There is something of interest for everyone, whether you’re eight or 80!”

Food and drink will be available and the event is free to attend.

Other dates for your diary:

Thornbury’s Historic Landscape at Sheiling School, Thornbury

Sunday 22 July, 10.30am or 2pm

Guided walk around the estate with a visit to the excavation of one of the fishponds.

Lower Hazel Excavations at Lower Hazel, Olveston

Wednesday 25 July, 10am-4pm

Come and participate in excavations at a post-medieval chapel.

Archaeology Days at Yate Heritage Centre, Yate

Wednesday 25 July; Thursday 26 July & Friday 27 July (all) 10.30am-4.30pm

Archaeological events taking place at Yate Heritage Centre include Roman History Day, Potions and Plagues and a discover Archaeology Day.

Archaeology of Acton Court at Acton Court, Iron Acton

Sunday 29 July, 2pm

Take a guided tour of Acton Court, the house, grounds and archaeology (cost £8/6 concessions).

Visit to discover more about your local heritage or go to  for more details about the festival.

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