Our work with schools began in 2014. We contacted schools in the Nidderdale area and were delighted to get positive responses from eight Primaries. Below is a record of the work we have done with them to date. We hope to both continue our support of these schools but also to stretch the net wider and help others in our region. If you would like our support for your school, please email Richard Langley on firstname.lastname@example.org; giving him your contact details and an idea of the kind of help you might want us to provide. Or, click on the link below which opens a pdf of our School Support Booklet.
Dacre Braithwaite CE Primary
On the morning of Thursday 17th June 2021 three members of our group were at Dacre Braithwaite School spending time with Years 3 and 4 teaching them excavation skills and having discussions with them about the importance of the development of prehistoric tools, especially the use of materials like flint and antler.
We excavated a 4 by 1 metre trench in the school playing field (with permission, honestly!) and let the children trowel the soil looking for artefacts.
The children were split into three groups with two excavating whilst one went with Richard to discuss prehistoric tools and their development.
We didn’t find any amazing artefacts but certainly enough to keep us all looking for more. What we did find are currently being cleaned and logged. Watch this space for more details in the future.
We have a longstanding relationship with the school and staff, always being made to feel welcome. Many thanks to Mrs Dobbs and everyone at the school, I am sure we will return in the future. There is still a lot more playing field to dig up yet!
Grewelthorpe CE Primary
On Thursday 23rd October 2014 four members of our group spent the day at Grewelthorpe Primary School, supporting their work investigating Prehistoric Britain. Whilst two members talked in the classroom about archaeology, two others conducted two small excavations outside.
The inside work involved a talk and discussions, as well as activities aimed at developing the children’s skills in sorting, classifying and interpreting finds and artefacts.
Outside, the trenches were enthusiastically ‘trowelled’ by pupils (Nursery to Year 6) under the watchful eye of two experienced amateur archaeologists. Finds ranged from concrete handrail posts and foundation steps of the old school, a unique perforated brick, pottery, all the way to possible knapped chert flakes. Could we really have found evidence of prehistoric Britons on the school site? Wouldn’t that be something!
An excellent day ended with an impromptu exhibition of finds from the day together with some belonging to our group.
Investigating an ancient settlement site
On 16th March 2017, we took some of the older pupils of Grewelthorpe Primary for a field trip into Nidderdale to investigate some newly discovered settlement ruins which are possibly prehistoric in origin.
The children were split into two groups. Some children investigated the ‘living’ area consisting of two possible round houses and trackways nearby. Children took accurate measurements, archaeologically-correct photos and GPS readings. Questions they had to think about included: Did they really live here? What is the evidence? How many people could have lived in the settlement? How do they think the ‘buildings’ were constructed?
The other group of children investigated the area of the settlement boundary walls. Questions they tried to answer included: Why did they build the walls? What was going on inside the settlement? What ideas do they have about the location and shape of the settlement?
During a busy (and cold) session the children worked extremely hard and we all had some very valuable discussions about the archaeology.
Fountains CE Primary
Another very enjoyable day in school. Children aged from 4 to 11 were involved in excavating parts of the school playing field as well as Years 1 to 6 joining in talks and activities in their classrooms.
The talks discussed what it was to be an archaeologist and they practised some of the essential archaeological skills. The children were very attentive and asked lots of excellent questions in return.
Outside, Bob, Roger and Ken helped the children to excavate two 3-metre by 1-metre trenches. Although there was much scraping and clearing of the top soil, very few finds were made. The area dug has probably been a field for many years. A good spread of charcoal across both trenches attested to some burning in the past but could easily have been the remnants of a fire (bonfire?) in the not too distant past. We did find some lovely deposits of yellow clay, one of which was in an interesting L shape. Despite the lack of finds it seems that the children all had a terrific time.
We would like to give a big thank you to all of the staff at the school for making us feel very welcome and making our job so much easier as a consequence.
Fountains School Museum Day
On Friday 27th November our Group were invited to take part in Fountains CE School’s Museum afternoon. The staff and children were aiming to tell parents and other visitors about the work they had done learning about Prehistoric people living in Britain and further afield. From displays to quizzes to food to artwork, they used many different ways of communicating their knowledge and understanding of this important part of our past; a time we are only now really beginning to appreciate the significance of.
Some of our group supported the day with artefacts (both real and replicas), discussions, displays together with a talk from Jim Brophy about our Project and the wealth of Prehistory in the Nidderdale region.
Many thanks to all of the staff for inviting us and congratulations also on the success of the event. We thought it was excellent, and so did the parents judging from the feedback we received. There is no doubt that it deepened and made more relevant the children’s overall learning experience.
Burnt Yates CE Primary
The 30th April 2015, what a brilliant day! On a very busy day at the school, our archaeological volunteers were made to feel very welcome and given the utmost hospitality. Two sessions in the classroom were supplemented by every child getting a chance to dig in a proper excavation on the school’s playing field. Don’t worry, in true Time Team fashion, we backfilled the trenches and reinstated the turf. In a few months you would never believe we had been there, honest!
From the four-year-olds to the Year Six children, they all joined in extremely well and we are sure that there may be one or two future stars of the archaeology world in their midst.
Amazingly, as the pretext for our visit to the school was to support the Prehistory Primary Curriculum, whilst removing the topsoil ready for the first group of children we found a chert ‘tool’, possibly used in Neolithic times or even earlier (see photo). All we can say about it is that it was almost certainly used by a prehistoric man/woman who lived somewhere nearby. What a find!
Other finds included old nails, coal and pottery which appear to be over 100 years old, when the field was probably still being cultivated.
Many thanks to Mrs Wilson, Headteacher, for arranging our visit.
FOOTNOTE: We obtained some expert advice from Phil Harding of ‘Time-Team’ fame who, after looking at some photographs of the flint artefact, suggested it looked like worked flint and was possibly prehistoric but could not commit any further. We now think it was probably brought to the area from elsewhere as part of an attempt (using lime) to improve the land.
Ripley CE Primary
Once again, the weather smiled on us, as we dug up part of the rear of the school play area (guinea pig enclosure!) at Ripley school on 25th September 2015.
From Reception right up to Year 6, the children were actively involved in digging up the past history of their school yard. Bits of concrete and netting attested to the site of an older version of the play area, remembered by some of the staff and dated by an old crisp packet the children found whilst digging. Excellent archaeology, if a little modern!
Typical 19th and 20th century ‘rubbish’ was discovered as well as some superb sheep front incisors. Together with other animal (probably sheep) bones, this may hint at a previous occupation of the site.
We also had a super time in the classrooms, where a lot of super investigations and discussions took place. The children certainly had a better understanding of what an archaeologist does by the end of the session.
All in all, an excellent day – the children and staff were brilliant and most welcoming.
St Cuthbert’s CE Primary
Friday 16th October – another terrific day! We decided to put our two trenches in a part of the school playground that had once been occupied by some older buildings in the hope of turning up some foundations. Well, we did exactly that, or I should say that the children did, for they were the excavators.
From aged 4 to 11, all the children got to dig in the trenches and learn some new skills. These include trowelling & trench management as well as more technical ones like using a metal detector. The main theme though was to have fun learning about their school’s past and we certainly did that!
Other finds included a school pencil, lots of 19th and 20th century pottery, coal and small glassy pieces of slag (industrial evidence) as well as a lot of concrete and several bricks (some still in situ).
Many thanks to all of the staff for making our team feel so welcome. Most of all, a very big thank you to the children who throughout the day showed a willingness to participate, find out and learn new skills both inside and outside the classroom.
Fountains Earth CE Primary
On the 15th June 2016, some members of our group went to support the staff and children at Fountains Earth Primary in Lofthouse, Nidderdale. As archaeologists we were quite excited about our day because we were going to excavate two trenches in the school field which had once been a small marshalling yard for a railway station. The line was closed many years ago.
Whilst Richard went to work with the children inside their classrooms, investigating the work of an archaeologist, other members helped children to excavate two small trenches in the field. Unfortunately, we could not dig them near to the old station (now private dwellings) due to the marking of a running track for Sports Day. However, the children did find evidence of the railway as well as the usual artefacts you would expect from a long-established school field.
Our hosts were terrific and the children full of questions. We had an excellent day!
Anybody seen this make of brick before?
Fountains Earth Away Day – near Middlesmoor
On Wednesday 6th July, Bob, Richard and Ken arranged to meet Class Two, the Juniors, at a ‘secret’ location at the top of Nidderdale in the middle of farmland where we suspected ‘prehistoric’ buildings and enclosures might be found. After a ‘long’ short drive up farm tracks we took the children over to the promontory of land we wanted to investigate.
The children were split into small groups and given measuring equipment with which to survey the possible prehistoric remains. These tools included tapes, rods, handheld GPS and camera equipment. We showed the children where the remains were and then let them survey the area in order to draw some scaled diagrams back at school. We also cleared some bracken around the lumps, bumps and walls to record them more accurately. No excavations were undertaken, this was purely a trip designed to survey a possible prehistoric site, giving the children ample opportunity to learn and improve archaeological skills.
Our discussions lead us to believe that we have found a likely prehistoric site which includes human shelter and stock enclosures. One enclosure was broadly elliptical (Bronze age?) whilst another one not too distant was probably rectangular. This would suggest a later date (Iron age?) but needs further investigation. The small ‘buildings’ may be shelters rather than permanent homes and therefore could be evidence of a type of transhumance being practised.
It was a fantastic day. The weather was fine and we were even treated to a parent providing us with tea and cakes on a picnic table in the middle of the moorland. This can only happen in Yorkshire!
Finally, we must say a great big thank you to all of the adults who helped make the day work so well, from the school staff and parents to the local farmer (also a parent) who gave us permission to hold this event on their land. We look forward to seeing the children’s work which I understand will be in the form of a documentary about their work. What a brilliant idea!
Glasshouses Community Primary
What a super day! Not only a warm welcome from staff, parents and children but the weather was great too! Richard talked to the three classes about what archaeology is and what archaeologists actually do and he was especially impressed by the knowledge and questions of the youngest children. Outside, Roger and Ken managed a trench each and showed the children (5 years to 11 years old) how to excavate safely and correctly. The children all responded enthusiastically, and the common thought was that they would have liked longer.
We found out that where we dug was once used as allotments (during war time?) and evidence of subdivision and pieces of bamboo cane seem to back this up. Lots of slag was found, evidence for metal working close-by.
After school we set up some tables in the playground to let the parents see the artefacts we had uncovered. Lots of very good learning took place, many thanks to all who made it possible.
Dacre Braithwaite CE Primary
We had a super day at Dacre Braithwaite School. The weather was perfect and the children enthusiastic. What could be better?
Richard and Jim worked inside with classes, discussing subjects such as what archaeologists actually do to the importance of sorting and classifying the artefacts they find.
Outside, Roger, Josh and Bob opened up two trenches, one in the school playground (grass not tarmac!) and the other in the school wood near to the main road. The usual horde of twentieth century ‘rubbish’ was found by the children from an old plastic ball to an extremely interesting ‘medicinal’ bottle complete with corroded stopper. We needed to go deeper in order to get further back in history but unfortunately time was not on our side.
Maybe another time, Dacre? Many thanks to the Headteacher and staff who made us feel extremely welcome.