14th July, Museum of Lancashire, Preston
Coinciding with the start of National Archaeology Week, a new exhibition opened in the Museum of Lancashire, Preston: ‘Living with the Romans’! to celebrate the event and all things Roman in the North West, our theme for the first day of National Archaeology Week was the same as the title of the exhibition.
The organisation of National Archaeology Week was left to me, the Finds Liaison Officer, and my three volunteers. In the weeks preceding the event we had decided to offer a number of workshops as well as an object handling session and also, I wanted to organise costumes for the visitors to get dressed up in.
Although on the day the costumes and replica weapons were probably the highlight (especially the Roman soldier’s uniform, sword and shield which were well-loved by fathers and sons alike!), we also experienced quite a few history-mad kids discussing Roman potters’ workshops and Roman mints and coinage (and they asked loads of really cool questions which, thankfully, we were able to answer by looking at finds and our display!).
Whilst two members of our team were with the objects and costumes, the other two were looking after the kids and families who’d come to do the workshops.
In these workshops they had the chance to make their own Late Iron Age mirror, Roman brooches and Roman pottery which was great fun, and although we didn’t have a potters’ wheel, the kids were amazingly apt at producing small pots, plates and cups.
Basically, whilst the boys thrived in the forecourt of the museum trying on the Roman soldier’s uniform and wielding the sword (heavy!) as well as carrying around the shield (even heavier!), the girls proved to be more patient ones in the education room where they were creating the most wonderful Roman disc- and animal brooches using crayons, pens, tin foil and lots and lots of glitter!!
It was a really successful first day of National Archaeology Week and honestly the most sparkly Roman invasion ever!
21st July, Lancaster City Museum
Archaeology for Kids!
The last day of National Archaeology Week in Lancashire was undoubtedly to be the highlight of the week: this was because not only did we have a huge finds-related event planned and organised for families and children, we were also about to launch Lancaster’s first ever Young Archaeologists’ Club!
On the day, we had 7-8 volunteers (students, work placements and curators) and their help and support was certainly much needed and appreciated!
We had prepared numerous games and jigsaws and an object handling sessions and furthermore, there was the opportunity to try on costumes, handle, identify and draw real archaeological finds and make your own prehistoric or Roman pot and design your own Roman and Viking jewellery, ship, coin and last but not least, your very own Roman tombstone!
At times we were looking after up to 15 kids with their parents either trying to help them put the fiendishly difficult coin jigsaws together, try on the Roman uniform or play ‘date the object’, placing laminated pictures of objects on our 5m long time line!
It was a rainy day, but that didn’t keep some families to come back after lunch because the kids wanted to finish a coin jigsaw or make another pots – it seems that in the end, every one had had bags of fun and really enjoyed themselves!
Since this event was a joined PAS/YAC event, Wendi Terry from YAC headquarters came to visit us to join the madness and take some pictures for the official YAC magazine, the ‘Young Archaeologist’.
In the end 18 kids signed up for the club which is a really good result for a first session! Their parents seemed to be very pleased that their archaeology-mad offspring had finally found a place where they could discuss and talk archaeology to their heart’s delight!
Some of the kids were really good at identifying the finds we had on the finds table and this was because they own their own metal detectors and had seen some of the artefacts before (or indeed, found similar objects themselves!).
Knowing this we’ll be having a Kids’ Finds’ Day not before long, where the children can identify and record their very own finds for the Portable Antiquities’ Scheme’s database!!