Human Henge research nominated for Shanghai Archaeology Forum prize

We are delighted to announce that research by Professor Tim Darvill into the Human Henge project has been nominated for the 2019 Shanghai Archaeology Forum prize.

Tim’s nomination follows interest generated by our Archaeopress publication ‘Historic Landscapes and Mental Well-being‘ which is now available as hard copy and for open access online. More news of that to follow….

Founded in 2013, Shanghai Archaeology Forum is a global initiative dedicated to promoting the investigation, protection and utilisation of the world’s archaeological resources and heritage.

The biennial SAF Awards “recognise individuals and organisations that have achieved distinction through innovative, creative, and rigorous works relating to our human past, and have generated new knowledge that has particular relevance to the contemporary world and our common future. It aims to promote excellence and innovation in archaeological research, advance public awareness and appreciation of archaeology, foster the protection and conservation of the world’s archaeological resources and heritage, and encourage international collaboration and partnerships between scholars and others from different countries”.

One of the Forum’s aims that strikes a particular chord with us is learning from the human past to proactively confront current issues, including social inequality. That sounds like Human Henge.

We hope to know the results of Tim’s nomination in a couple of weeks.

Burgh Castle Almanac at St Benet’s Abbey

Session 40 15th October 2019

Photo credits Richard Godfrey, Louise Fowden, John Durrant, Robert Fairclough, Sue Tyler, Fran Pearce, Laura Drysdale, Tod Sullivan, Phillip Wells

We met on a bleak day at St Benet’s Abbey, the atmospheric ruin in the marshes near Ludham that once looked something like this

and now looks like this.

It is owned by our BCA partners Norfolk Archaeological Trust, and is a thousand years old, as the Benedictine monastery was founded by King Cnut in 1019. The land route to the site is through private farmland, but the ruins are more accessible via the River Bure.

St Benet’s is still used for an annual service in August, and it clearly means a lot to many. We saw inscriptions, gifts and a bunch of flowers with a portrait photo laid in the Gatehouse.

The archaeology of the site is apparent in the lumps and bumps in the landscape, and there are some tempting molehills.

St Benet’s Abbey is wonderfully photogenic and people took some great pictures.

We ended up with a cuppa at Ludham Bridge.

Human Henge features in Guardian article about heritage and mental health

Heritage healing: why historic houses improve wellbeing

Staying in a landmark building has been found to counteract stress and anxiety

Vanessa Thorpe

The Southside Family Project visits Woodsford Castle, Dorchester this year.
 The Southside Family Project visits Woodsford Castle, Dorchester this year. Photograph: Landmark Trust

With its low gables and sunny verandahs, the empty former cottage hospital of Winsford is a building like no other in the world. The result of a philanthropic dream shared by a rich widow and a leading Victorian architect, in the 119 years since the ailing people of north Devon were first welcomed under its slate roof, the place has aided many a recovery, including shell-shocked soldiers seeking sanctuary from first world war trenches.

And soon Winsford, at Halwill Junction near Beaworthy, will be helping people again. The disused hospital, designed by Charles Voysey as a gift from the wealthy Maria Medley to the surrounding rural communities between Dartmoor and the coast, and now being restored by the Landmark Trust, is the latest example of a growing faith in the healing powers of heritage buildings. For in the same way that walks through Britain’s forests are now being prescribed as an effective way to help counteract anxiety and stress, so the conservation trusts and charities of the heritage industry are starting to promote the power of ruins and historic buildings to improve mental wellbeing.

“It is a common theme we get back from all our stayers,” said historian Caroline Standford, of Landmark, a charity that rescues, restores and then rents out significant historic buildings. “So many say how much calmer they feel. It is so appropriate that we can use Winsford next year, because it is a place that has such a strong sense of nurturing about it.

“It is so much more welcoming than what we think of as a medical centre today. Before Voysey built it, his only cottage hospital, the villagers in the 13 surrounding rural parishes who fell ill had to travel all the way to Exeter or Okehampton.”

From next year, not only will a third of the old hospital be restored for continued use as a community health resource, but each year the remainder will be offered out at no cost for selected dates, along with some of the trust’s other buildings, as a place for those in need, including bereaved children, traumatised veterans and carers, to come and recuperate.

The ex-hospital at Winsford, Halwill Junction near Beaworthy, Devon, left, will open next year for stays to help counteract stress and anxiety.
 The ex-hospital at Winsford, Halwill Junction near Beaworthy, Devon, left, will open next year for stays to help counteract stress and anxiety. Photograph: John MIller

The scheme, called 50 for Free, has been running for five years and was inspired by the way that visitors to the trust’s buildings commented on how their mood was boosted by a stay in an ancient place, or unusual historic venue, away from the trappings of modern life. Applications for the next charitable visits open next month.

English Heritage and Historic England, two of Britain’s other major heritage and conservation charities, are also exploring the therapeutic side of their properties. English Heritage has set up days for people living with mental health problems and on low incomes at Stonehenge, a site it maintains jointly with the National Trust. Human Henge events focus on the site’s strong associations with natural healing and contemplation, much as the Japanese therapy of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, is now being prescribed by some doctors treating depression.

Historic England has also found that visits to historic towns, ancient places of worship and archaeological sites have the same beneficial effects on blood pressure and general wellbeing as social sporting activity.

Research by University College London five years ago was among the first to make the link between heritage sites and mental wellness. It showed that contact with a heritage site, whether as a visitor or a volunteer, frequently improved mood and even promoted a sense of citizenship among isolated and disadvantaged groups.

And this weekend, at the culmination of the annual Heritage Open Days week, many of Britain’s local authorities will be encouraging families to visit nearby museums, stately homes and historic sites as a healthy way to break the repetitive pattern of work, shopping and domestic chores.

While a period of respite in a beautiful castle or folly would probably benefit anyone, Stanford believes that Winsford, offering a moment “out of time”, with no phone or television, was always destined to be a haven of peace and healing again. Now, as the last nails are hammered in by conservationists, it is a place of restoration in both senses of the word.


Goodbye to Waveney Valley Sculpture Trail

Burgh Castle Almanac met at the Village Hall to interview a fascinating range of film makers. No decision yet, but when we’d finished we headed to Raveningham to take down our installation, The World as Nature Intended.

It has survived howling gales, torrential rain, strong sun and 4500 visitors.

The roundels will be repaired and integrated into our Almanac. The willow structure stays in position, to weather through winter and spring, until the Trail comes round again in 2020.


Photos by Philip Wells


Burgh Castle Almanac session 36

John Durrant, who writes the Living With Mental Health blog, took this photograph on our regular route round the roman fort at Burgh Castle yesterday morning. Sam Brown of Norfolk Wildlife Trust joined us to identify and observe flowers, grasses and crickets up close with hand lenses, and to nibble fat hen, black horehound, nettle, hawthorn berries, elderberries, blackberries, pineapple weed. We noted damage to the site and walls that was probably caused by metal detectors, for passing on to Norfolk Archaeological Trust. What people do for heritage’s wellbeing is up there with what heritage does for people’s wellbeing.


We are seeking applications from film makers to work with us from November 2019 – May 2020 on Burgh Castle Almanac, our partnership with Norfolk Archaeological Trust, Access Community Trust and the Broads Authority.

Burgh Castle Almanac is a fabulous project in a beautiful place with amazing people – so if you are interested we’d love to hear from you. Deadline for applications Monday 2nd September 2019.



BURGH CASTLE ALMANAC is an archaeology, creativity and wellbeing programme based at Burgh Castle Roman Fort and Time and Tide Museum. Once a month a group of local people walk around the Roman Fort making a photographic record of the changing seasons. Sometimes we are joined by archaeologists, artists, musicians and environmentalists to explore the landscape in different ways. A fortnight later we gather at Time and Tide Museum to make art reflecting our experiences. The project began in May 2018 and continues until May 2020.


The Restoration Trust engages people with mental health problems with heritage, art and culture so that their mental health improves. We call it Culture Therapy.

Norfolk Archaeological Trust works with local communities to save Norfolk’s irreplaceable historic sites and to share them with everyone.

Access Community Trust in Lowestoft promotes social inclusion for the community benefit by preventing people from becoming socially excluded, relieving the needs of those who are socially excluded and assisting them to integrate into society.

Burgh Castle Almanac is part of Water, Mills & Marshes, a £4.5 million programme supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund that focusses on the people, communities and heritage of the Broads National Park.


Make a short film (around 15 mins) reflecting on and encapsulating the Burgh Castle Almanac experience, including using the project’s archive of artworks and photography

Attend up to 6 sessions to capture the activities taking place and speak with group members about their experiences

Work in consultation with project members to create the final film.

Artist requirements

Creative excellence

Experience of working collaboratively

A commitment to community engagement

To provide own filming and editing equipment

Valid public liability insurance of at least £5 million

To comply with risk assessment and monitoring procedures for the project

Project framework

The sessions timetable is available on our website, Sessions are generally on Tuesday mornings, from 10.30am – 1.30pm.  A picnic lunch is included. The Film Maker will work directly with the Burgh Castle Almanac project manager, Laura Drysdale, Director of the Restoration Trust.

The film will be shown at Time and Tide Museum as part of the project’s final Almanac, exhibition and celebrations in May 2020, with a view to wider distribution to community venues and online.

This commission will be dependent on a successful application to Arts Council England.


The budget will be based on tenders submitted in this commissioning process.


Please supply a response to this brief outlining:

Proposed solution: your approach and the methods you will use (up to 500 words)

Costs: Your fee to make the film. Any additional costs attached to your proposal for materials or equipment.

Experience: details of up to five other projects relevant to the current one in terms of scope, size and context; and curriculum vitae(s) of relevant staff to be employed in performing this contract.

Referees: details of two referees

Assessment process

All tenders will be assessed by the project management team including:

Laura Drysdale, The Restoration Trust

Caroline Davison, NAT Co-Director

Andrew Farrell, Broads Authority

Ian Brownlie, BCA Creative Facilitator

Burgh Castle Almanac members

Deadline for applications: Monday 2nd September 2019

Interviews: Tuesday 10th September 2019 at Burgh Castle (venue to be confirmed)

Contract award: Friday 13th September 2019

For further information and to submit your response to this brief please contact:

Laura Drysdale, The Restoration Trust

Who we are and what we do – 2019 update


Burgh Castle Almanac on the foreshore at Rotherhithe with the Thames Discovery Programme June 2019

The Restoration Trust was set up 5 years ago  and became a registered charity a year later (2015).  We are dedicated to connecting heritage, health and people with serious mental health problems. Our achievements in five years show that there is a need for our work offering exceptional access to real heritage and real expertise.



We use culture therapy to help people with serious mental health problems engage with heritage so that their mental health improves. Our vision is that culture therapy will be a normal part of heritage, culture and mental health good practice by 2027



  • Sustained engagement with participants, including after projects end
  • Exceptional projects, access, learning, creativity.
  • Research into outcomes for people



  • Human Henge. Ancient landscapes and mental health. Currently building on experience at Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site to extend the programme to other sites in the South West of England.
  • Burgh Castle Almanac. Historic landscapes and mental health at Burgh Castle Roman Fort with Norfolk Archaeological Trust. Part of Water Mills and Marshes, a major landscape project led by the Broads Authority
  • Change Minds. Archives and mental health at Norfolk Record Office and els. Developing partnerships with Scottish Council on Archives and archives in Scotland and North West of England.
  • Culture Quest. Music Appreciation Groups in Norfolk and Suffolk.
  • Conservation for Wellbeing. Conservation and mental health at London Metropolitan Archives.



Most participants had a positive improvement in their health attributable to our programmes, including over the longer term, although numbers are too small to be statistically significant.

In baseline data, only 12% of Human Henge participants felt close to people often or all of the time, rising to 47% at the end. One person said: “I like the walking and talking and learning all at the same time and being a human being rather than an illness or a condition or a client or an end user… I’ve actually been a human being for three months.”

Since taking part in our projects people have volunteered with our partners, taken families and friends to heritage places, visited museums, taken courses, researched family history, written blogs and talked publicly about their heritage and creative passion. They have made films, taken photographs, created artworks and recorded oral histories.



A cross-sectoral organisation, we are rooted in heritage, culture and mental health. Our Chair was the CEO of Icon, the Institute of Conservation. Our Director was a heritage professional who moved on to work in mental health. Trustees have lived experience of mental illness as well as expertise in mental health, social care, PR, publishing and heritage.



In 2018/19 we collaborated with 20 partner organisations and delivered 65 sessions for 123 participants.

Partners and collaborators include:

  • Heritage and culture; English Heritage, National Trust, Wiltshire Libraries, Norfolk Record Office, Norfolk Museums Service, Norfolk Libraries, Icon, London Metropolitan Archives, Norfolk Archaeological Trust, Norwich Arts Centre, Broads Authority, Thames Discovery Programme
  • Mental health; Richmond Fellowship, Together, Julian Support, Homegroup, Access Community Trust, SMART
  • Research; Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, Avon and Wiltshire NHS Partnership Trust, University of East Anglia, University of Bournemouth

Case studies of our projects have been published by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the National Archives, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing, the Royal Society of Arts.

Funders include: National Lottery Heritage Fund, Big Lottery, West Suffolk Community Chest, Norwich Charitable Trusts, Geoffrey Watling Charity, Wiltshire County Council, Norfolk County Council, Norfolk Arts Fund, Geoffrey Watling Charity



Costs for one person to attend a project are around £120 per 3-hour session, £40 per hour (including on-costs). This compares to one 9 minute visit to a GP at £37, one NHS psychological therapy session at £95 per hour, one day on a mental health ward at £410.

APPG round table on Heritage and Health 15th July, Houses of Parliament

We are contributing to a round table on heritage and health at the Houses of Parliament on 15th July as an example of good practice. Here is the agenda:


All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing

Heritage, Health and Wellbeing Round Table

15th  July 2019 4-6pm, Committee Room 1 House of Lords



Chair: Lord Howarth of Newport


Contributors: Practice

Laura Drysdale, Director, Restoration Trust + Chris Hogg

AJ Langer, Countess of Devon

Richard Osgood, Chief Archaeologist, MOD + Richard Bennett


Andy Pennington, Research Fellow, University of Liverpool

Giles Woodhouse, Chief Strategy Officer, Wessex Archaeology

Helen Chatterjee, Professor of Biology, UCL


Peter Ainsworth, Chair, The Heritage Alliance

Peter Aiers, Chief Executive, Churches Conservation Trust

Ben Cowell, Director General, Historic Houses

Liz Ellis, Policy Adviser Communities and Diversity, The National Lottery Heritage Fund

Dr Linda Monckton, Head of Wellbeing and Inclusion Strategy, Historic England

Brian Smith, Secretary General, Heritage Europe

Dr Heather Smith, Equality Specialist, National Trust

The overall question is: What are the challenges and opportunities for heritage to contribute to the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities?

We  will  hear  from  three  examples  of  good  practice  and  from  those  who  have  participated  in projects. This will be followed by a summary of current research and evidence. Then there will be a discussion of the policy context and what the next steps should be for policy makers.


Peter Ainsworth was appointed Chair of the Heritage Alliance in December 2018. Peter has over 30 years of commitment to public life. Following a successful career in banking, which he combined with serving as a local councillor, Peter entered Parliament in 1992. During his time as an MP Peter was the shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1998-2001) and then the shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural affairs (from 2001-2002, and again 2005-2009). Peter is currently Chair of the Big Lottery Fund, which thanks to National Lottery players gives grants for the improvement of communities across the UK. He is also Chairman of the Churches Conservation Trust.

Peter Aiers became Chief Executive in 2017 after being with The Churches Conservation Trust (CCT) since 2007. Peter set up the Regeneration Team whose role was to find sustainable solutions to complex urban churches within its collection and to enable more community involvement in the care of its churches. Peter became Director for the South East in 2012 and Director of the North region in 2016. He also invented Champing™. After a career start at English Heritage, Peter has worked in local authority conservation officer and worked at the Diocese of London, pioneering new approaches to help the sustainability of historic churches before joining the CCT.

Richard Bennett is the Director of Breaking Ground Heritage (BGH). Richard spent 17 years in the Royal Marines, being medically discharged in 2011. Since his discharge, Richard has been involved in wellbeing projects, initially as a participant with Operation Nightingale. Richard has personally experienced the value of heritage in promoting his own wellbeing, subsequently leading to the development of BGH. BGH now take the lead on veteran’s wellbeing and outcome development for Operation Nightingale projects. Richard has published several articles and papers on wellbeing through heritage and led several sessions in international archaeological conferences on this subject. Richard is now working with Psychologists to develop his research further, making it more applicable across a wider spectrum of society.

Helen Chatterjee is a Professor of Biology in UCL Biosciences. Her research includes biodiversity conservation and evidencing the impact of natural and cultural participation on health. Her interdisciplinary research has won a range of awards including a Special Commendation from Public Health England for Sustainable Development and most recently the 2018 AHRC-Wellcome Health Humanities Medal and Leadership Award; she received an MBE in 2015 for Services to Higher Education and Culture. Helen has written three books ‘Touch in Museums: Policy and Practice in Object Handling’ (Berg Publications, 2008), ‘Museums, Health and Well-being’ (Routledge, 2013) and ‘Engaging the Senses: Object-Based Learning in Higher Education’ (Routledge, 2015) and over 50 research articles.

Ben Cowell has been the Director General of Historic Houses since 2016. Historic Houses represent 1,600 of the UK’s independently owned historic houses, castles and gardens, most of them still lived-in family homes but many offering forms of public access. Previously Ben worked for the National Trust (as Regional Director East of England and as the Deputy Director of External Affairs), and also for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. He is Deputy Chair of the Heritage Alliance, representing over 120 independent heritage organisations.

Laura Drysdale is Director of the Restoration Trust. Laura managed English Heritage collections conservation and was a senior manager at the Museums Libraries and Archives Council before supporting marginalised people at Stonham, Julian Support and Together. The Restoration Trust was founded in 2014 and runs culture therapy partnership projects helping people engage with heritage and culture so that their mental health improves. These include Human Henge (at Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site) and Burgh Castle Almanac (at Burgh Castle Roman Fort).

Liz Ellis works as Policy Advisor Communities and Diversity at National Lottery Heritage Fund since 2015,  where she leads on promoting inclusive practice across the heritage sector. Having trained as a mental health nurse, Liz studied BA and MA Fine Art at St Martins School of Art, London with subsequent national and international exhibitions. As Curator Community Learning at Tate Modern 2006-14,  Liz led strong collaborative local, national and international partnerships with NHS Trusts, mental health organisations, artists, universities and public policy colleagues. A commitment to social justice and the power of cultural rights informs her practice.

Chris Hogg: Following three years of seriously debilitating mental illness and waiting lists, and at the diagnosis of long standing PTSD, Chris joined the Human Henge programme at Stonehenge as a participant. At the start, Chris was unable to go into the outdoors, wrecking what had previously been an important part of his personal and professional life.  Human Henge provided a new context to the landscape, a way to address flashbacks and panic attacks in a gentle, supportive context and introducing archaeological expertise and new friends. From having a professional interest in outdoors and health, to being someone who desperately needed therapy, to becoming someone who has benefited from outdoors heritage therapy has been a revealing experience.

Allison Courtenay (‘AJ Langer’) is the Countess of Devon and lives with her family at Powderham, a historic 14th  century castle in Devon. Before moving to the UK in 2014, AJ enjoyed a 25-year career as an actress in Hollywood in television and film. AJ was diagnosed with a chronic pain condition at a young age and her journey has led her to be a vocal advocate for the mental and physical benefits of health and well-being through the arts. Since her arrival at Powderham, AJ has opened the heritage building and landscape to health and wellbeing of all sorts, encouraging yoga, tai chi, dementia care, and intergenerational arts and culture. AJ sees Powderham as a 700-year-old, start-up, social enterprise and her focus is ‘to facilitate health and happiness through education and the arts’ under the values of Community, Sustainability, Authenticity, Inclusivity and Adventure.

Linda Monckton is Head of Wellbeing and Inclusion Strategy at Historic England and works on the relationship between societal issues and the historic environment. Previously she led Historic England’s research programme for places of worship and worked as a senior architectural investigator. She studied architectural history and conservation and has published widely on medieval buildings, conservation law and practice, church closure and a range of faith buildings including British mosques and Quaker meeting houses. She was Hon. Director of the British Archaeological Association from 2008 to 2016 and is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.

Richard Osgood is the Senior Archaeologist within the Defence Infrastructure Organisation where he has worked since 2004. In 2011 he co-founded Operation Nightingale – using archaeological fieldwork to aid recovery and wellbeing of service personnel and wounded veterans – several of whom now have degrees or work in archaeology. He is responsible for managing and preserving monuments and archaeological sites within the entire Ministry of Defence estate. Previously, he was Research Assistant to Professor Sir Barry Cunliffe at Oxford University. Richard is a regular contributor on the BBC’s Digging for Britain and was voted Current Archaeology’s ‘Archaeologist of the Year’ in 2019.

Andy Pennington is a research fellow based in the Department of Public Health and Policy at the University of Liverpool. He specialises in evidence on the social determinants of health and wellbeing inequalities, and on approaches to systematic evidence-based decision-making. He managed the ESRC What Works Centre for Wellbeing Community Wellbeing Evidence Programme and led their review on the impact of historic places and assets on community wellbeing.

Brian Smith was appointed Secretary General of Heritage Europe by the Council of Europe in1999. He was City Planning Officer of Norwich from 1985 – 1998 and a founder member and past chairman of the English  Historic  Towns  Forum.  Heritage  Europe  represents  over  1000  historic  towns  in  32  European countries and is a founder member of the European Heritage Alliance 3.3. Brian was joint editor of the Alliance research report – “Cultural Heritage Counts for Europe” and co-author of the Horizon 2020 Expert Group on Cultural Heritage report “Getting Cultural Heritage to Work for Europe”

Heather Smith is the Equality Specialist for the National Trust for England, Wales and Northern Ireland focusing on advising on equality, diversity, and access for disabled people as employees, volunteers, members, and visitors across the National Trust’s diverse portfolio of historic properties. Heather has presented and published internationally on accessibility and the historic environment, is a trustee of disability charities, and chairs the Jodi awards for excellence in accessible digital media.  She holds a PhD in access to culture for blind and partially sighted people.  Recently, Heather was appointed Government Disability Sector Champion for Countryside and Heritage.

Giles Woodhouse is the Chief Strategy Officer at Wessex Archaeology and is working on sustainable diversification in public benefit services,  including heritage-based social  prescribing.  His previous role running  a  Recovery  Centre  for  Help  for  Heroes  involved  developing  services  to  aid  the  recovery  of wounded, injured and sick personnel and veterans.  In addition to supporting Operation Nightingale, he led a successful People’s Postcode Lottery funded heritage project partnership with the Canal River Trust and initiated an iron age roundhouse build project in the grounds of Tedworth House enabling beneficiaries to gain a sense of purpose, rediscover comradeship, build self-