What a fantastic day Ian and I had with Reception and KS1 at Downfield Primary School in Cheshunt on Tuesday!
You may have seen my previous post about the preparations for this workshop (Samian Ware Workshop preparations). Well, Tuesday was when all those preparations were put into practice.
The workshop marked the beginning of a new topic for the children, ‘Time Detectives’, and involved the children taking part in activities to get them thinking just like archaeologists (for what are archaeologists if not time detectives?). Through taking part in a number of hands-on activities, they found out how objects can tell us something about the people who once used them, and they had a go at using archaeological tools to excavate artefacts from mini-trenches. They also tried their hands at experimental archaeology and became Roman potters as they made their own Samian Ware moulds.
The focus for the pottery making was on the Romans as it tied in nicely with the history and archaeology of the local area. Cheshunt is the site of a Roman settlement which probably grew up around a Roman marching camp along Ermine Street, one of the major Roman roads in Britain. You see, Cheshunt is approximately a day’s march from London, and you can imagine that after a long day marching the Roman Army probably thought it was about time they stopped and had a rest. Excavations in Cheshunt Park in the 1950s and 1960s revealed much evidence, and after Time Team had excavated in 2004, they confirmed that the site was indeed situated along the line of Ermine Street. You can watch this episode of Time Team here.
Again, this workshop confirmed for me that Reception and KS1 can benefit from an archaeology workshop just as much as older children. Whilst their concept of the past may still be developing, they are more than capable of thinking about things and objects – material culture – and saying something about the people that once used them. After all, they are quite practised at using material culture – they use it every day!