Iron age roundhouse at the Ancient Technology Centre

Ancient reconstructions made using our Synthetic Hemp

Fancy a history lesson?

Get yourself down to the Ancient Technology Centre in Dorset.

This outdoor education site provides hands-on historical experiences, in which visitors can work together to build full-sized reconstructions of ancient buildings and find out what life would have been like in the past. And we’re delighted to say, our ropes and twines play a part!

Over the years, the team at the centre have returned to our store many times to buy our ropes and twines for their projects – sisal twine, heavy flax twine and synthetic hemp.

Intrigued by their work (and just a little bit nosey), we recently reached out to learn more about their fascinating ancient reconstructions, and how exactly our ropes are used in their creation.

Iron age roundhouses

Held together with just a few lengths of synthetic hemp.

Iron age roundhouse at the Ancient Technology Centre

Launched over 30 years ago, the Ancient Technology Centre is the brainchild of a teacher – Jake Keen – who worked at Cranborne Middle School. Jake designed and led the building of an Iron Age roundhouse, based on archaeological evidence from an excavation in North Wales.

This first ancient reconstruction was intended to represent a ‘typical’ Iron Age dwelling, dated at around 200AD. The entire project was completed by school children, who harvested the materials locally – from nearby woodlands and reed beds.

Since then, five other buildings have been recreated on the site, including an Earthhouse, a Viking Longhouse, a Neolithic Log Cabin, a Roman Forge and a Saxon Workshop. All of which have been made with a focus on experimental archaeology and Jake’s founding principle of allowing participants to get fully involved.

Roundhouse made using out synthetic hemp and sisal and flax twines

For many years now, the centre has also offered outreach projects for educational institutions.

The team regularly travels to schools up and down the country, bringing trailer loads of hazel rods, stakes, thatching reed and our synthetic hemp rope and sisal and flax twines. Over the course of a couple of weeks, pupils are then given the opportunity to construct their own traditional roundhouse.

They may only be made using a few basic materials, but these ancient-inspired buildings have a lifespan of approximately 10 years – provided the thatch is maintained periodically. Which means, not only do they provide pupils with the same hands-on experience as they would get at the centre, but they’re also a great way for schools to develop their outdoor spaces.

Why synthetic hemp rope?

For the Ancient Technology Centre, synthetic hemp has been the rope of choice for many years now – and we have it on good authority that it does an excellent job at holding up these magnificent reconstructions.

But why is it such a good option for this type of project?

  1. It’s the ultimate ‘outdoor rope’

Synthetic hemp is very strong and hard-wearing.

It’s also weatherproof, demonstrating excellent UV resistance. It doesn’t swell or shrink when it gets wet, and it doesn’t rot – making it perfect for prolonged outdoor use. In fact, you could leave it outside for many years and it will still look just as good and do the job just as effectively.

  1. It’s easy to use

Despite its tough and durable nature, synthetic hemp rope is a bit of a softie.

It’s incredibly smooth and soft to the touch. It’s flexible, easy to handle, and takes a knot well. Which makes it an ideal option for long, complex projects such as the Ancient Technology Centre’s reconstructions. Especially as, in most cases, it’s the delicate hands of little children that do a lot of the work!

  1. It looks good

Synthetic hemp is made from spun polypropylene, and as such, offers all the benefits of a synthetic material (i.e. durability, weather resistance, strength, etc.). Yet it also boasts the appearance of a natural hemp rope – making it perfect for a project like this, where authenticity is key.

Ancient reconstructions made using our ropes and twines


Ready for a trip to the Iron Age?

If you’re as intrigued as we are by these ancient reconstructions, why not get in touch?

The Ancient Technology Centre currently offers day and residential school visits, Duke of Edinburgh residential weeks, college and university field studies, volunteering opportunities and work experience placements – plus personalised school builds. It’s also open to the public three times a year.

Whether you’d like to organise an educational trip or are just curious to learn more, we reckon it’s well worth a visit – and not just because our synthetic hemp rope and twines play an integral role in their work!

To find out more, simply submit their online contact form or send an email to Alternatively, you can follow them on Facebook for the latest news on public events.

Here at RopesDirect, we’re always amazed by the diverse range of ways in which customers use our rope. The Ancient Technology Centre’s reconstructions are particularly fascinating – but we’d love to hear more.

If you’ve also used our products recently – perhaps to make something as equally impressive as these ancient buildings – why not drop us a quick message? We’re always delighted to read your reviews and see photographs of our ropes in action, and contacting us is really easy. You can either submit a testimonial using our online form or send an email to

Promoting our customers’ interests – as much as our own – is important to us. We love posting your stories on our social media pages, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch!


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.