A rummage around the archives to thank volunteers at Avebury

By Claire Dukes - 4 June 2018


As part of a thank you to the dedicated volunteers who help to welcome, inform and entertain the many thousands of people who visit Avebury National Trust each year, Dr Ros Cleal and the curatorial team opened up the archives. National Volunteers Week conveniently coincided with the 80th Anniversary of the opening of the Alexander Keiller Museum at Avebury. An event was organised especially for volunteers who were invited to listen to Dr Ros Cleal, Curator, Briony Clifton, Assistant Archaeologist and Michele Drisse, Curatorial Assistant, talk about the artefacts that are held in the museum, and they even got to handle some of the artefacts themselves. On 1 June 1938, Alexander Keiller, the famous archaeologist and heir to the Keiller marmalade fortune, opened the museum in an old stables building in the grounds of Avebury Manor. Now, 80 years later, the museum is still going strong, giving visitors a taste of what life used to be like in prehistoric Avebury.

Volunteer Ann and Briony Clifton Assistant Archaeologist looking through some artefacts (c) National Trust Abby George

Avebury Manor guide, Ann said “I’ve been volunteering for the Trust since Avebury Manor reopened in 2011. My background’s in archaeology and I’ve got a real love for Avebury, so this seemed the ideal opportunity to get involved. I enjoy talking to people, sharing the stories about the house and learn so much from the visitors as well - it’s a two way process that gives me a great deal of satisfaction. I also volunteer in the new second-hand bookshop and am hoping very soon to be helping to process the finds from a recent excavation in the manor.” Peter, who has been a stone circles tour guide for the Trust since 2012, said: “I enjoy being outdoors, the countryside in the World Heritage Site is amazing, but’s the people I meet that make it for me, they come from all over the world and everyone is happy and enjoying themselves.” Volunteers were also given the rare chance to have a look at the workings of the Stables Gallery clock, an intricate late 18th century turret which is still working today.

Volunteer Ann and Briony Clifton Assistant Archaeologist looking through some artefacts (c) National Trust Abby George

The National Trust Wiltshire Landscape portfolio, which includes Avebury and eleven other sites around Wiltshire, is supported by 497 volunteers who have clocked up an amazing 5,635 hours so far this year - time freely given and with passion and dedication. Fraser Normington, National Trust Volunteer Coordinator said: “I cannot thank our incredible volunteers enough; their passion, experience and knowledge is intrinsic to the success of our portfolio, allowing us to inspire visitors to our fascinating landscape and continue our important conservation work across all of our sites. Volunteering Week is one way we can say thank you and to celebrate the contribution our volunteers make.” If you are interested in volunteering for the National Trust at Avebury please contact Fraser on 01672 538017 or emailfraser.normington@nationaltrust.org.uk

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