At Wessex Archaeology, our Community & Education Team use archaeology as an exciting means of exploring science, literacy, technology, the arts and history. As well as exciting events and engaging school sessions, we’re also pioneering a unique, hands-on set of resources – artefact loan boxes.

Our loan boxes contain real archaeology, in addition to 3D prints, environmental samples and dressing up equipment. They cover a range of topics, from the Saxons to 20th Century Britain at War. We’re very pleased to report the latest addition to our Stone Age & Iron Age loan box - The DNA Detectives: The Stone Age Mystery by Dr Mandy Hartley.

A new addition to our loan box

This new novel, aimed at 7-14 year olds, has received Green Tick quality assurance from the Association for Science Education (ASE), the foremost body for science education across the UK. Author Mandy Hartley is a former scientist with a PhD in genetics and 15 years of experience working with DNA in a variety of contexts, from medicine to forensics.

The story follows siblings Annabelle and Harry as they discover a cave buried deep beneath their school hall. Climbing down into the cave, they find cave paintings and an ancient grave as well as evidence that someone has been there before, excavating the grave and stealing the artefacts. With their dog Millie, the children set out on a thrilling adventure to catch the thief and find out more about the person in the cave using DNA just like modern day archaeologists and scientists. In this part-crime, part adventure story, readers will not only learn who the culprit is but also gain a deeper understanding of DNA, forensic science, and the Stone Age. 

The Stone Age Mystery joins a collection of interesting and educational items, including these struck flint flakes (left) and Late Bronze Age pottery (right).

Struck flint flakes from Wessex Archaeology's Stone Age & Iron Age loan box Bronze Age pottery from Wessex Archaeology's Stone Age & Iron Age loan box

The book adds a thought provoking new dimension to the Stone Age & Iron Age loan box; as the ASE's assessment notes, "The Stone Age Mystery could be used as a text for a science-based reading group, or book club for older students".

Find out more about our loan boxes,  including how to book, here!

Our artefact loan boxes


Find out more about our loan boxes,  including how to book, here!
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