Woodlore — School of Wilderness Bushcraft  


Ancestral Skills with Ray Mears

Primitive Technology

"If you keep one eye on the past, you are blind in one eye but if you forget the past, you are blind in both eyes". A Russian saying that has many connotations and holds a deep truth for those who seek to further enrich their knowledge of Bushcraft. Far from running in pursuit of a romanticised and irrelevant past, the Ancestral Skills course will guide you through a host of fascinating, challenging and rewarding skills pertinent to life in the bush. Working with a range of natural and man-made materials that span the millennia of our species’ ingenuity, you will fashion those tools that provide the essentials of life.

Further Information

Fire, water, food & shelter can, in no particular order, be said to provide the essentials of life. Obtaining these things in the wild can be seen as the basics of what we do. Ensuring their provision; planning for the future; adding comfort, culture and finesse through the skill of our hands and the ingenuity of our minds takes us beyond the basics and deeper into our own cultural history.

During a magical and demanding week, you will kindle fire from sparks generated from iron pyrites, work flint and use modern and ancient materials to construct shelters which provide both a home and a means of preserving food. You will learn to make the most of large game and put to use the meat, hide, bone and connective tissues. You will fashion tools for both hunting and fishing which have been used from the Stone Age to the 18th century and, by the warmth of your campfire, you will temper these experiences with a practical journey into the cultural lives of our ancestors. At the end of the week, you will have made objects both practical and beautiful that you will be able to use and enjoy for years to come. More importantly, you will have developed your skills, broadened your knowledge and deepened your understanding of the natural world through the eyes and ways of our predecessors.

2018 is the 35th anniversary of Woodlore, and to celebrate this milestone we are delighted to offer this brand new course, based on an old classic, which will be led by Ray Mears. Ray has researched, written books and presented television programmes covering the skills of our ancestors and now you have a chance to learn from him using the techniques that he has spent decades learning and practising.

Skills List:
  • Fire lighting with flint & iron pyrites
  • Making lavvu shelters
  • Making and using bone tools
  • Flint knapping
  • Preparing hides
  • Tanning leather
  • Butchering large game
  • Using rawhide and sinew
  • Making hunting & fishing equipment

This course starts at 17:30 on Sunday and will finish at 16:00 on Saturday.


This course is self-catering, so please bring enough food for the duration of the course and a stove to cook it on. Many clients have found in the past, bringing a cool box is useful to keep all of your food inside.

We provide a kettle, tea, coffee, squash and biscuits in a brew box at the main camp fire of the course, under a large parachute. We also have fresh drinking water and a fruit bowl available.

Course Site

The Ancestral Skills with Ray Mears course will take place at an expedition style camp in East Sussex. The camp is situated in beautiful private woodland with lots of wildlife including deer, owls, badgers, fox and butterflies. We do not have shower/toilet blocks at our sites, therefore all aspects of the course will have a fantastic wilderness feel, using a screened camp shower and a screened latrine in the woods.

We have a car park at the course site where you your car will be kept during the course (if you bring one).

Other Details

Joining instructions will be sent to participants of the course 9 weeks before it is due to start, giving details of where to meet, at what time, and what to bring with you.

Dates, Costs and Bookings

  This particular course has already taken place and there are no other dates currently available. Please sign up to our mailing list for future course updates.

Course Reviews

Ancestral Skills with Ray Mears is rated 5/5 based on 1 customer review.

All of our reviews are from people who have attended our courses.

Overall Rating:


  1 of 1

  What a wonderful week! For a while, I had been looking for a course exploring ancient skills, so when I found this, I decided that I really should go for the best. I was not disappointed - it was worth every penny. The group were great and the teaching was outstanding throughout. We covered a huge array of topics and skills and gained an understanding of these within the context of both our Mesolithic ancestors and modern day hunter-gatherers, which brought it all to life beautifully. It was very special to experience some of the everyday sights, sounds, actions and activities that were such an integral part of life in Britain so long ago. By trying the activities for myself, I gained a real glimpse of how our ancestors lived, a greater appreciation of the true worth of items that we take for granted like rope, leather or ‘simple’ tools and an even deeper respect and admiration for the talent and ingenuity of those who developed and lived by these skills. I learnt so much, but would happily have stayed on for another month or two to keep learning more! As it was, I left with a head full of ideas and new skills that I wanted to practice and try again. The course has opened up new areas of learning and lines of thought and has inspired me to carry out some research of my own in order to understand some of these ideas in more depth. If you have any interest at all in how our ancestors lived thousands of years ago, then save up and book this course, you won’t regret it!  


Rated: 5/5

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