Christmas has arrived. Whether you’re happy about it or not, Christmas is here and you need to start planning. And while you can probably opt out of the Christmas meal with your course-mates, and leave your parents to the roast dinner, it’s much harder to say you’re not going to be giving any presents this year; believe me, I tried once and it was not worth the verbal beatings. So to make it easier for all you history buffs (and of course, the people who know such buffs and never know what to get them because they’re so damn picky), we’ve compiled a list of the best History-related Christmas gifts. All price ranges and age ranges have been covered; from the whimsical to the educational and everything in between, we’ve got it covered. Put them on your Christmas list, or give them out to your friends and families if they happen to be inclined towards the past.
1. For the reluctant grown-ups:
One of the most exciting pieces of news for those of our generation who learnt most of our history knowledge from the ‘Horrible Histories’ series of books and TV shows, is that the author has recently released several books for adults. Terry Deary’s ‘Dangerous Days’ series so far has three titles, covering the Roman Empire, Victorian Railways and Elizabethan England. Even the briefest glance at the cover promises the reader just as much alliteration, word-play and gruesomeness as his children’s books…but they’re for grown-ups. Perfection!
Price: £7.99 per book
2. For the person who already has everything:
The British Museum has recently introduced a Christmas present like no other. Alongside their already extensive gift-shop, they have introduced a new product just in time for Christmas: your very own priceless artefacts to take home (or something along those lines anyway).
14 real-life artefacts have been scanned by the British Museum so that visitors and collectors can print them out in 3D. The artefacts scanned range from statues to sarcophagi, and are absolutely free, although the recipient of this gift may have to fork out for a 3D printer, materials and a substantial amount of electricity to get the artefacts into a physical form! But for a unique gift, and a way to reduce the illegal trade in antiquities, this is the ideal present.
Price: Free (ish!)
3. For the knowledge seeker:
Our third entry isn’t as new as the products above, but still manages to excite the public, for the simple fact that everyone needs a good History book in their lives. And arguably the best popular history book to be released in the last decade is ‘A History of the World in 100 Objects’. Based on the radio series by the BBC, and with editing contributions from Durham’s very own Ben Roberts, this book is an excellent overview to so many prehistoric and historical topics that your head will be swimming with information by the time you reach the end of it.
Lots of books with similar formats have been released since this one, for every niche interest. Indeed, my dad gave me ’Fifty Minerals that Changed the Course of History’ last Christmas. It’s surprisingly interesting actually. If you want to learn about minerals.
4. For the explorer:
If you worry that your loved ones are going to tire of reading too soon, never fear. There are ways of getting out and about this Christmas too. English Heritage and National Trust both offer reduced rates for students and there are other membership options available for all your friends and family if you’re feeling exceptionally generous. They might even take you out for a scone to say thank you.
Stockist: English Heritage and National Trust websites
Price: £39 and £27 for students, respectively
5. For the closet archaeologist:
Our final idea is a brilliant invention which will appeal to the more practical-minded historians among your acquaintances. A huge range of kits are becoming available which allow (primarily young) people to experience the thrills of archaeological techniques at home. These kits tend to include a range of tools such as brushes and trowels, sometimes sand or fake dirt to dig in, and some beautifully inauthentic artefacts. There are even specific sets tailored to different interests, so some children can excavate dinosaur fossils while others discover the more aesthetically-pleasing Egyptian artefacts. If you want an even less authentic experience, some sets come with the artefacts embedded in a strange plaster-of-Paris block which you can gradually scrape away. This feels horrible to the touch, makes a nails-down-blackboard noise while you scrape, and ruins the fun of real archaeology by showing you exactly where to dig. But it produces a lot less mess so any parents of young children will probably be grateful for that option.
As a warning to anyone thinking of buying any of these sets, they do not provide an ‘authentic’ experience of an excavation. Some sets I’ve found come with mallets, which is largely seen as a bad idea at most archaeological sites. But they’re still very fun, I’m sure.
Price: Ranges from £3.79 to £98.00