SALISBURY Museum’s £2.4m Wessex Gallery will hold its grand opening on Saturday, July 12.

Everyone is invited along for a day of free celebrations and events where anthropologist and BBC TV Coast and Origins of Us presenter Dr Alice Roberts will officially open the gallery.

It will house one of Europe’s most extensive collections of Stonehenge and prehistoric artefacts including the Amesbury Archer - popularly dubbed the ‘King of Stonehenge’ and the Wardour Hoard.

Along with the chance to view the new Wessex Gallery for free, members of the public will have the opportunity to see Norman falconry displays, try on beautiful Norman dresses or get suited and booted in a knight’s hefty chainmail armour, complete with sword.

There will also be ancient coppicing, stone masonry, pottery-making and wool dyeing demonstrations as well as a chance for people to try their hand at reconstructing a prehistoric face, carve a Stone Age chalk animal and experience an Anglo Saxon burial ritual. There will also be other celebrity guests including Channel 4 Time Team presenter and field archaeologist Phil Harding, who will be demonstrating flint knapping – the ancient art of shaping tools and weapons from stones.

“The grand opening of our new Wessex Gallery is going to be a fantastic all-day event with lots of exciting activities to see and do for all age groups,” said Adrian Green, Salisbury Museum director.

“It’s also a great opportunity for people to see our amazing new Wessex Gallery which brings the prehistory and history of Stonehenge and Wessex to life. It’s one of the best displays and collections of its kind in the world with more than 2,000 rare and fascinating artefacts which tell the story of Stonehenge and early Britain from the mathematical genius of the ancient Britons to the transformational Roman and Norman invasions.”

The new gallery replaces the old Stonehenge, Pitt-Rivers and Early Man galleries and was funded with a grant of nearly £1.8m from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The free grand opening event takes place between 10am and 4pm on Saturday, July 12 at Salisbury Museum in the Cathedral Close.