Our Network Members

What The Network Does

The network was set up, starting in 2008, by craft makers in south Dorset to provide a framework for them to work and trade, based on research and experimentation into the production of prehistoric material culture.

As practising professional craft makers, designers, re-enactors and experimental archaeologists, the expertise and understanding of the team has been built up over years of experience, research and development. They are able to show and explain to their audiences many facets of the local material culture. Using evidence provided by archaeologists and museum collections, they reproduce artefacts using technologies they have explored by experimentation.

Each active member brings a range of skills and knowledge which they build upon by carrying out investigations into methods and techniques for making replicas of ancient artefacts. Some of them also produce more modern items inspired by those timeless objects.

The demonstrations show fascinating ancient methods of making items such as tools, utensils, textiles, costumes and jewellery.  The development over time of the traditional methods is shown, as the technologies were improved and refined – leading to differences in appearance and functionality.

These technologies provide an educational and entertainment value for people of all ages, as they see live action activities staged before their eyes. They can speak to the demonstrators and gain a deeper understanding of what they are witnessing.

The network does not have a fixed base, but attends events staged by other organisations that work in the “heritage industry”. They set up a collection of canvas awnings to provide a backdrop and shelter from the weather.

The expect their overheads to be met by the event managers. This includes management of the Community Interest Company, insurance cover and van hire for transportation of their displays and goods. They boost personal incomes by selling their produce at events.

The Network Members

Bill Crumbleholme

The “founding father” of the network, Bill is a potter from the village of Upwey, near Weymouth, who has built an understanding of ancient techniques, based on years of practising, making replicas of prehistoric pots and studying the archaeological evidence. His replicas span the development from early stone age pots through to Roman mortaria and amphora. He has made collections of pots for Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre and Bournemouth University.

He started making pots at school and continued producing while working in his family building business until the end of last century. He worked with Peter Woodward, the curator of Dorset County Museum, and after a fleeting appearance on a Team Time episode filmed locally, he became a full-time potter, teaching evening classes in the village hall. Most of the contemporary pottery he makes is inspired by ancient styles and decorations, but uses more modern kilns and glazes to make them functionally useful.

He has particularly investigated clay sources, inclusions and mixtures and then firing methods, using low technologies, such as open bonfires, shallow depressions and trenches, igloo shaped simple kilns made of turf and brick kilns – the largest and most modern of which holds hundreds of pots and uses wood fuel to get up to 1300C, with help from his pottery friends.

At network events he demonstrates pot making, often joining sections of pinched clay together to make large urns. Given time and space he fires pots. He runs beaker making sessions and also encourages people to try decorating slabs of clay as a quick introduction.

Bill is also the network's principal tea-boy.

Mark Vyvyan-Penney

One of the original directors of the CIC, Mark is a multi-skilled craftsman, who moved from wood to metal working when he joined the team.

He currently manages the Dorset Craft Workshops, recently set up in Dorchester. He teaches wood working and basket weaving.

He has carried out practical research into the design and firing of bronze furnaces and moulds for casting. He has closely studied the original bronze artefacts and has produced replicas of tools, jewellery and weapons.  

At network events he demonstrates what he has found out about metal working and explains the development of the manufacturing techniques and the styles of tools and weapons.

Will Brown

As a director of the CIC Will helps manage the network and using his photographic skills captures images of the activities. He has worked in secondary schools and colleges as an art teacher.

His expertise within the network is focussed on metal working, both casting and working with sheet and wire. He is working on bronze mirror technology and decoration and also demonstrates Trichinopoly also known as Viking Knit, to produce jewellery chains.

Virgina Evans

From a background as a history teacher, archaeological illustrator and an abstract painter, often using prehistoric iconic symbols, Virginia has developed a range of costume jewellery based on ancient methods. Working with Bill, she has produced replicas of faience beads, which she uses alongside metal, wood and clay to make necklaces and bangles. She is currently making clay tablets inspired by classical and Saxon imagery. 

Mike Trevarthen

Mike works as an archaeologist and brings a depth of knowledge to his practical skills knapping flint into hand axes, arrowheads, tools and jewellery. He has learnt and understands a wide variety of techniques from many eras. 

His current research concerns the use of gentle heat to colour the flint and affect its properties.

Jane Light

Jane is a textile worker, who starts with the rearing of sheep and follows the production of cloth from the resulting wool, using a variety of dyes, spinning and weaving methods.

She has set up a number of looms to demonstrate the progression of methods, from simple hand held looms and tablets, to peg looms and warp-weighted looms. She is currently experimenting with and demonstrating the production of sprang woven netting.

Ciaran MacCuddihy

Ciaran is a relatively new member of the team, attracted by the use of fire and hot metals! He has studied pottery production and design and is quickly learning the skills of metal casting. He has progressed from a bellow pumping slave to a valuable member of the team. Alongside helping the others with bronze working, he demonstrates metal casting using tin poured into shapes cut into cuttlefish.

Fergus Milton

Fergus is a metal worker with a scientific training. He has worked at Butser Iron Age Farm in Hampshire and now joins in at the network events when he can. He specialises in smelting ores and casting bronze using simple technologies, while explaining his knowledge of the evidence from archaeological finds and the science behind the working of metals.