BBC One National Treasures Live on location at the Dig for Shakespeare tonight

The live archaeological dig on the site of Shakespeare’s last home in Stratford-upon-Avon is the location for BBC One’s new history programme National Treasures Live tonight at 7.30pm. Historian Dan Snow and BBC presenter Sian Williams delve into what the Dig for Shakespeare can tell us about the world’s best-known playwright, talk to volunteers who have unearthed some intriguing finds, and help to bury a time capsule reflecting life in 2011 for future generations to find.

Historian Dan Snow and presenter Sian Williams host National Treasures Live at the Dig for Shakespeare on the site of Shakespeare's last home in Stratford-upon-Avon. BBC One 7.30-8pm 24 August. Photo courtesy of the BBC.

24 August 2011

The Dig for Shakespeare began last year when the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust commissioned Birmingham Archaeology, of the University of Birmingham, to help it unravel the mysteries of Shakespeare’s last years at New Place.  The painstaking project has already unearthed finds spanning more than 2000 years, including evidence which challenges the historic interpretation of how Shakespeare’s house would have looked, and how the property was used. 
Hundreds of volunteers from across the region who have helped to sieve and process finds at the Dig have been invited to take part in the live broadcast on Wednesday evening.
During the programme, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust will bury a time capsule containing items reflecting contemporary life in Stratford-upon-Avon.  The capsule contents were selected from nominations in a competition run by the Trust and the Stratford-upon-Avon Herald, and the competition winners have been invited to the site for the occasion.
Dr Paul Edmondson, Head of Learning & Research at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust said, “New Place was excavated  in the 1860s by Halliwell-Phillipps, and when we re-opened the foundations he had discovered and preserved, we found that he had left us a ‘gift’ of some of his finds.  The time capsule is our way of doing the same for archaeologists of the future.  The site of Shakespeare’s last home has fascinated people for centuries and no doubt hundreds of years hence people will be just as curious about how we lived in 2011 as we are about Shakespeare’s life at New Place between 1597 and 1616.”
The Dig for Shakespeare is open to the public seven days a week from 10.00am to 5.00pm.   Visitors can watch professional archaeologists and volunteers working on fresh excavations every day.  As part of the BBC Hands on History Dig! Campaign, Dig for Shakespeare has a daily programme of family activities (11am-4pm). The archaeological team works in shifts, with a break between 1.00-2.00pm.  Tickets are valid for 12 months, so visitors can come back as many times as they like to see the progress of the Dig, which continues until 30 October.  Income from ticket sales helps the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to keep the five Shakespeare Houses and Gardens open year round, care for the world’s largest Shakespearian collection open to the public, and provide world-class educational programmes.  For more information, or to book tickets, please visit or call 01789 292325.
For further information, please contact:
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust       
Lynn Beddoe – PR Manager       
Direct line: 01789 207134      
Mobile: 07887 661770     

Images: images of the National Treasures Live filming, the time capsule and the capsule competition winners will be available from 25 August.  Images of New Place, Dig for Shakespeare and selected finds available on request.
Time capsule competition winner:
Lynda Kershaw, Stratford-upon-Avon wins a Kindle.
Runners-up: (win a family ticket valid for a full year at all five Shakespeare Houses & Gardens)
Fiona Haggett, Banbury
Jamie Sidwell, Bidford on Avon
Freddie Pullman, Stratford-upon-Avon
Notes to editors:
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is the world’s leading charity in promoting the works, life and times of William Shakespeare.  It offers a unique Shakespeare centred experience with outstanding archive and library collections, inspiring educational and literary event programmes and five wonderful houses all directly relating to Shakespeare.
As an independent charity we receive no public subsidy or direct government funding. We depend entirely on income generated through our supporters: our visitors, volunteers, donors and Friends.
Birmingham Archaeology is the commercial arm of the Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity at the University of Birmingham. It comprises three teams; Birmingham Archaeology Heritage Services, the Visual and Spatial Technology Centre (VISTA) and Birmingham Archaeo-Environmental (BAE).  Each of the groups is responsible for the undertaking of commercial projects and services, the development of research projects and the delivery of postgraduate and professional training via taught Masters programmes and Continuing Professional Development workshops.

Hands on History is a two year history campaign from BBC Learning which aims to get all the family hands on with history out and about and back at home. It supports a range of BBC TV programmes and brings history to life through family activity packs, events and details of historic sites to visit across the UK and is suitable for all the family.

BBC Learning plays a central part in meeting the BBC's purpose of promoting education and learning. Utilising the power of the BBC’s big brands and key talent, the department puts learning right at the heart of the BBC and provides a variety of resources and learning opportunities for children, teachers, parents and adult learners. Working with partners and in local communities, BBC Learning aims to stimulate interests and encourage engagement through a variety of campaigns across all BBC genres and platforms.