Sewing up history

Archaeology and knitting might not be obvious stablemates, but national educational charity, the Council for British Archaeology (CBA), has plugged in to the current trend for knitting as they launch the 2013 Festival of Archaeology (13 – 28 July) with a search for the UK’s best knitted archaeological item.


Knole Tapestry

The History of Knole House in Kent created by Textile Group Sevenoaks Copyright Bennett Smith

From ‘sewn henge’ to knitted roman soldiers, the competition launched earlier this week and has already seen entries including an epic wall hanging depicting the history of the National Trust’s Knole, a former palace of the Archbishops of Canterbury and royal residence, made by the Textile Group Sevenoaks as well as a Sutton Hoo helmet tea cosy from the British Museum Knitting Group.

Elvie Thompson, Head of Engagement at the CBA, comments: “We’ve been surprised by the amount of interest and entries we’ve had for the competition already from festival event organisers and it’s clear that  the level of talent out there is quite extraordinary – we definitely seem to  have tapped into a real national trend here.”

And it all has its roots in an ancient sock…

“One of this year’s Festival of Archaeology events invites modern knitters to re-create Manchester Museum’s Coptic sock (which dates from c. 600 AD Egypt), learning how the ancient original was made and replicating a millennia-old craft. We thought that the event perfectly captured the spirit of the festival, and that a UK-wide knitting competition would be a great way to raise awareness of the thousand-plus events that will take place all around the country from 13 – 28 July.”

The Council for British Archaeology (CBA), which is a UK-wide educational charity, is also hoping that the competition will help in their mission to raise the profile of archaeology in the UK. And this year, the Festival of Archaeology launches with a clear message: members of the public have an increasingly crucial role to play in helping to protect our heritage. With cuts to local authority archaeology services combined with environmental factors such as increased coastal erosion, it means that the public’s role in reporting archaeological finds, as well as in helping to protect and conserve sites of archaeological significance is more valuable than ever before.

The Festival is the world’s largest celebration of archaeology which offers over 1000 events across England and Wales encouraging all the family to get hands-on with history.

Details of how to enter the knitting competition can be found at

To join the CBA please visit

For further information on the Festival of Archaeology, 13-28 July, search the online event listing at