Stop! Archaeologists at work!

In History this term, Year Seven have been learning about the key skills needed to become an expert historian, focusing on major themes like chronology, change and continuity, belief and power. This week, their work was more ‘hands-on’…

Each student was provided with their own set of ‘organic remains’ (actually a mixture of flour, water, oil and stock!). Using gloves and spatulas, their task was then to carry out a careful examination, recording any evidence of the diet of the time period and using this to identify whether it was from Roman, Viking or Tudor times. Some students found melon seeds, olive stones and lemon pips, indicating remains from Roman times, while others were more likely to see fish bones, peas, apple pips, signifying Viking or Tudor remains. They then had to look for the cherry stones (Viking) or lentils (Tudor) to differentiate their findings.

While a huge amount of fun was had, there was also some serious learning behind the activity. First, it enabled students to gain an insight into the work and meticulous methodology used by archaeologists. Secondly, the ability to examine evidence closely and record all findings is important for all historians. In one class, for example, there was a lot of argument about whether some evidence found were watermelon seeds (Roman) or apple pips (Viking), with other evidence eventually used to discriminate. Thirdly, along with power and belief, the third theme of history covered at Key Stage 3 is everyday life and in this lesson, we were able to explore and learn about the diet of three of our time periods. It was a great lesson – and the Year Seven are now all set to start their studies of the Norman Conquest.

Miss Jane Waller, Head of History and Politics