Saturday’s National Archaeology Day at Salisbury Museum was the best yet.

The theme of the day ‘Medieval Mayhem’, was obvious from the start. Visitors arriving at the museum which is next to the magnificent medieval Salisbury cathedral were played in to the sound of a pipe and tabor.

Minstrels and re-enactors helped visitors travel back in time. And activities started at the front door: with a medieval kitchen; and an armourer!

One of the most popular activities was a visit to the Apothecary’s Stall. Here herbs were pounded and pomanders made. Other activities ranged from making medieval tiles to making medieval shields. Children enjoyed the ever popular mini-digs and revelled in the chance to dress up in medieval costume.

A talk on ‘Jetties and Jambs’ showed people how to identify old buildings and then put this skill into practice with a guided tour of the historic Museum buildings. There was also chance for visitors to find out if any of the objects they had brought along with them at the Portable Antiquities Scheme stall.

A group of Salisbury’s heritage bodies clubbed together to welcome over 1,000 visitors. Salisbury Museum, which also houses the Wiltshire base for the Portable Antiquities Scheme, Salisbury Cathedral, the Salisbury based Wiltshire Conservation Centre and Wessex Archaeology joined forces for the popular annual event.

Many visitors come every year, but for many others National Archaeology Day 2006 was a new experience, an exciting opportunity to find out what makes archaeology so interesting and enjoyable.

Despite the title of the day, it wasn’t mayhem. But it was medieval. And it was memorable.

(Some photos from the event, taken by a visitor, can be seen on Flickr)