FAMILIES have the chance to dig up the past when events are held for the annual Festival of Archaeology in Dorset.

The Council for British Archaeology extravaganza is being held from tomorrow to July 28 with the aim of encouraging people to play a part in archaeology locally.

Highlights in Dorset include activities at Corfe Castle, a Mesolithic site open day on Portland and a talk about the Saxons in Dorset.

TV presenter, historian and festival patron, Michael Wood, said: “History, they say, is the biggest leisure participation activ-ity in the UK.

“Working with communities, groups and schools, I am struck everywhere by the huge energy and enthusiasm, deep knowledge and high level of skills – and the staggering amount of fresh insight and new knowledge.

“The Festival of Archaeology celebrates that passion and Britain’s riches. It gets people out of their armchairs, into the open and experiencing history hands on through archaeology.

“What better way to understand the past and our relation to it?”

The Festival of Archaeology events at Corfe Castle include an archaeology trail every day with living history displays and hands on activities on selected dates including each weekend.

Professor David Hinton, Emeritus professor at the University of Southampton and co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Saxon Archaeology, will give an illustrated talk on Saturday, July 20.

His free talk on the Saxons in Dorset will be from 2.30pm to 4pm at the All Saints’ Church at Easton on Portland.

The Mesolithic site open day is on Sunday, July 14 from 2pm to 4.30pm. It is at the Culverwell Mesolithic site in Portland Bill Road, Portland.

The site dates back some 8,500 years and provides the first known evidence in England for the use of Portland stone for building purposes with a laid stone floor.

It is the oldest known site in England where there is possible evidence for sedentary, or at least semi-sedentary, occupation all the year round.