TV archaeologist and Shaftesbury resident Julian Richards attracted a bumper audience to his engaging January Gold Hill Museum talk on “Operation Warhorse.” Late-comers and obliging members had to stand at the back and in the corridor to hear Julian describe his 2014 dig at Larkhill on Salisbury Plain. No substantial remains were found of the temporary buildings of the horse hospital, but Julian’s workforce, including 350 local schoolchildren, young soldiers in training, and disabled veterans, uncovered hundreds of evocative small finds. “Do horses suffer from seasickness?” wondered Julian over photographs of horses being shipped from Canada, as he placed the Larkhill site in the context of the 1914-18 War effort. Some images of horses in the front line were too graphic to show. This Heritage Lottery Funded dig and educational project clearly made an enormous impression on its mainly young participants, aided in no small way by Julian’s charm and enthusiasm.
The local archaeological theme continues on Tuesday 02 February at 2.30p.m. at Gold Hill Museum with Jane Ellis-Schon describing the progress of Salisbury Museum’s “Finding Pitt-Rivers” project. In 1880 soldier Augustus Henry Lane-Fox inherited Wiltshire estates rich in archaeological remains and became a pioneer of scientific excavation. Part of his vast collection of artefacts was housed in a museum at nearby Farnham until dispersed in the 1960s. The major part formed the basis of the Pitt-Rivers Museum in Oxford. This lecture is free to Shaftesbury & District Historical Society members, while visitors may pay £3 at the door.