Royal Navy recruits to help raise a three ton standing stone at Butser Ancient Farm for its 50th anniversary

DOZENS of naval recruits from HMS Queen Elizabeth will help hoist a three-and-a-half ton stone upright to mark Butser Ancient Farm’s golden anniversary.

Monday, 18th July 2022, 2:22 pm

As part of Butser’s 50th anniversary celebrations, staff, volunteers and the 40 sailors will move and erect the standing stone using only traditional methods and materials.

On July 27 the team at the Clanfield attraction will pull the stone using a wooden sled and ropes before moving the stone into position and attempting to stand it upright.

Butser Ancient Farm has become one of the South East’s top visitor attractions welcoming more than 50,000 visitors a year including 30,000 schoolchildren.

The three-and-a-half ton stone to be moved into place and stood upright using traditional methods at Butser Ancient Farm as part of their 50th anniversary celebrations, on July 27, 2022

The farm’s director Simon Jay said: ‘This is an important year for us. Butser Ancient Farm began life in the 1970s as an experimental archaeology site looking at Iron Age life.

‘We were and still are completely ground breaking with no other site in the UK taking such an in depth look at how life was really lived by our ancient ancestors. Fast forward 50 years and the site has expanded beyond all imagination.

‘We now showcase archaeological reconstructions of ancient buildings from the Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman Britain and the Anglo-Saxon period. Our buildings are internationally famous and appear frequently in documentaries and feature films.

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‘We also grow crops from prehistory and keep rare breeds of animals, such as goats and sheep.

‘We wanted to mark our 50th anniversary by doing something really special.

‘If our experiment works, the standing stone will act as a 50 year marker for us and we are planning to coincide its erection with the Council for British Archaeology’s Festival of Archaeology which has the theme of journeys this year so the movement of the stone fits well with that theme.

‘We will also attempt to align the stone to the Midsummer sunrise and over time we may add more smaller stones in the surrounding area that can create different alignments such as at midwinter too.’

The standing stone, which will be moved about 30m, is formed from Purbeck limestone from Swanage, where stone has been quarried since at least the time of the Roman empire.

Reverend Eddie Wills from HMS Queen Elizabeth said: ‘It was really a lucky chance we got involved in this project. I was originally a volunteer as part of the Bronze Age House building project at Buster Ancient Farm last year, and since joining HMS Queen Elizabeth earlier in the year I knew how much the ship’s company would enjoy visiting the farm and getting stuck in.

‘I got in touch with Butser to offer our services for a community project and this is what was suggested. It struck me as a great opportunity to demonstrate the Royal Navy’s can-do attitude.’

As part of the farm’s 50th anniversary celebrations a new mosaic has also recently been laid in the Roman Villa at Butser using traditional Roman mosaic techniques.

The team are also working on a new Iron Age Roundhouse construction based on excavations from Danebury Iron Age Hillfort near Andover.