Updated: May 4
Over the past 10 years, AncientCraft has grown beyond anything I had originally imagined. Here's the top 10 highlights from the first 10 years of adventures...
1. Meeting Sir David Attenborough
At the beginning of AncientCraft's journey in 2009, I was invited to attend a lecture by Sir David Attenborough by the Cambridge Archaeology and Anthropology Museum. After the lecture I was fortunate enough to speak with Sir David and present him with a flint hand-axe I had made especially for him. He graciously accepted this gift and thanked me.
2. National Geographic TV Debut
On the 11th of April, 2010, I made my first UK TV appearance on a broadcast of National Geographic's “Stone Age Atlantis”. In the setting of a recreated Mesolithic campsite, I demonstrated my prehistoric technology skills of flintknapping and deer butchery. The show focused on the drowned landscape of Doggerland in the North Sea which has a wealth of lost prehistoric archaeology from the Palaeolithic to the end of the Mesolithic.
3. 5000 Years of West Stow
As a part of West Stow’s annual 5000 years celebration in 2013, AncientCraft was invited to be based in the Information Hut and host a Living History demonstration and talk. A day of flintknapping was enjoyed by a steady flow of visitors along with learning about what life was possibly like in the Stone Age. The site also hosted a number of Celt, Roman and Anglo-Saxon reenactors.
4. BBC Scotland: 'Britain Beneath Our Feet'
In 2012, I joined presenter Julia Bradbury at the Kingley Vale Nature Reserve to teach and demonstrate some prehistoric flintknapping and archery techniques. The programme was a four-part series featuring the South Downs, Yorkshire, Cornwall & Devon and the Scottish Highlands, exploring how geology has affected British landscapes and the people who lived there.
5. Jersey Heritage: Ice Age Island Project
For four weeks in 2013, I joined the Jersey Heritage Ice Age Island Project to provide flintknapping and living history displays. I was based between The Castle Green of Gory Castle (Mont Orgueil Castle), La Hougue Bie Museum and Petit Portelet in Jersey. The project was a part of a three year archaeological project, to explore Jersey’s landscape stretching back over a quarter of a million years. It was a fantastic month of interactions with visitors… To top it off, I was allowed into the museum stores to view some of their private artefacts, what a privilege!
6. BBC Coast: "Caves and Coves"
One of my finest hours came in 2015 when Season 10 (Episode 6) of the BBC’s popular maritime series Coast premiered in the UK. During the episode "Caves and Coves", presenter Nick Crane meets the Jersey Heritage: Ice Age Island archaeologists investigating how neanderthals used Jersey's caves for shelter, protection and as a first basic home. My role was to teach presenter Nick Crane how to flintknap and then demonstrate the ultra sharp result by butchering a deer leg. Excitingly it turns out, this episode was also Nick’s favourite moment from the entire series. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02yxn8n
7. Dorling Kindersley Book Feature
In 2016, Dorling Kindersley (DK) Books commissioned AncientCraft to act as consultant and to provide "models", artefacts, props and materials for a new prehistoric book to be published during late 2016. The objective was to create a number of high-resolution photos of my replica items, then further pictures of humans making fire and cordage, hunting and fishing, creating art and working with various materials including flint, animal hide and antler. I was also joined for some of the filming at Berrycroft Hub by Josie Mills (left) and Tabitha Paterson (right) from UCL, who seemed to enjoy the experience of being "prehistoric models".
8. The British Museum Commission
On the 8th November, 2017, the Queen reopened the Sir Joseph Hotung Gallery of China and South Asia at The British Museum, a gallery she first unveiled 25 years ago in 1992.
For the new exhibition, I was commissioned to make a number of replica tools for their new exhibition at the Sir Joseph Hotung Gallery covering prehistory to present across China and South Asia (Room 33). My tools are located in the Early Societies: 1.5 million years ago - 1000 BC) area.
9. New Scientist Live: Prehistory Zone
AncientCraft returned to New Scientist Live “The world’s greatest science show” in 2018. Excitingly a whole zone was set aside dedicated to prehistory, here I lead a team delivering flintknapping displays and workshops (led by me) alongside displays of artefacts and a stone age camp (managed by the rest of the team). Everyone worked really hard, entertaining thousands of visitors over the four day event. The prehistory zone was recognised as a show highlight.
10. A Year to Remember!
2019 marked a huge milestone for AncientCraft, celebrating its 10th birthday in style. As well as filming with ITV Wales for “Wonders of the Coast Path” with Sean Fletcher, James also filmed with the Smithsonian Channel for “Mystic Britain” and alongside a team from the US for “History in the Making”.