Carol@mirror.Co.Uk: Virtual History; TIME TO GET DIGGING AND UNCOVER THE PAST

Article excerpt

Byline: SHEILA PROPHET

GET ready for Britain's biggest-ever mass archaeological excavation, which takes place this weekend, live on Channel 4.

The Big Dig will be conducted by Tony Robinson and his Time Team and, as you can see at the show's site, www.channel4. co.uk/history/microsites/B/bigdig/, enthusiasts around the UK will be joining in by digging up square metre test pits.

If you want to join them, check out Phil Harding's hints and an illustrated guide to what you might find - from ancient coins to human bones, which have a site of their own at www.eskeletons.org/viewer/human Select.html

If that sounds too strenuous, sit back and enjoy other people's hard work - www.archaeology.co.uk, the website of Current Archaeology magazine, is a fascinating place to explore the past, with huge databases of organisations involved in archaeology and digs.

If you can't visit the places in person, the ancient sites directory at www.henge. org.uk provides the next best thing, in the shape of 360-degree views of long barrows and stone circles. The Prehistorama at www.stonepages.com is even more comprehensive with 26 panoramas. This fantastic site also has a guide to an amazing 529 stone circles, standing stones, barrows, cairns and hillforts across Europe.

If you have a thing for cave paintings, don't miss a virtual visit to the Cave of Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc, at www.culture.gouv.fr/culture/arcnat/ chauvet/en/ to read about the cave's 30,000-year-old wall paintings and see them for yourself.

Appropriately enough, many of our top archaeological sites now have their own websites.

For starters, check out the Sutton Hoo Society at www.suttonhoo.org; www.hengeworld .co.uk an informative site all about Stonehenge and Avebury; the weirdly name Yorkshire village of Wetwang, with its seven bronze chariot burials, at www.wetwang.org.uk, and two fine sites about Hadrian's Wall - Wallnet at http://museums.ncl.ac.uk/wallnet/wall/index.htm and http://segedunum.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk which also includes a forum where you are encouraged to chat about all things Roman.

Fans of the Romans will also love www. romanbritain.org.uk, put together by author Guy de la Bedoyere. Or try www.romanbaths .co.uk for a virtual spa tour.

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