The development of new museum facilities as part of the Tomorrow’s Museum for Dorset project in Dorchester have been preceded by an archaeological excavation. This was a unique opportunity for museum visitors to see archaeology in action. The museum lies within the central area of the Roman town of Durnovaria and it was known that one of the main streets of the town ran through the Museum site. The excavation, which took place in summer 2018, revealed parts of the street as well as a series of roadside timber framed structures dating to the late 1st–2nd century AD and later 2nd century pits and ovens.
A viewing platform and associated exhibition enabled visitors to view the site and place the excavations in the context of Roman Dorchester. Twelve trained volunteer stewards assisted activities, including regular ‘Meet the Archaeologist’ sessions, Young Archaeologist Club and group tours. Museum volunteers took part and the project enabled three student placements. Fourteen schools studying Roman life at KS2 visited and took part in a range of activities. Around 10,000 visitors were able to see Roman archaeology being excavated in real time and a series of follow-up engagement events ensures this impact is sustained.