Archaeology has been brought to life

Posted: 5.01.12

Archaeology has been brought to life for school children in the South Pennines as they walk in their ancestors’ footsteps.

Pippa Rochford, through a Pennine Prospects project, takes children back to a time when the South Pennines was dominated by trees not moorland and hunter-gatherers dressed in animal skins used stone and flint tools to kill their prey and rubbed sticks together to generate fire.

Four workshops have been developed to help young children engage with the archaeology of the uplands. Pupils can; excavate hidden artefacts in mobile digs brought into the classroom, go on a moorland walk and discover how Stone Age people lived; build mini hunter-gatherer shelters from woodland material and create their own ancient pottery.

“The routes across the moors offered the hunter-gatherers a way to get from valley to valley, but, of course, it would have looked very different then with trees covering the landscape rather than open moorland,” explained Pippa, who has developed and now delivers the workshops in schools across the South Pennines.

“We use authentic tools and role play to bring the past to life and the children really engage with it. It’s wonderful to see how fascinated they are by the artefacts, some of which are genuine pieces from 4000 years ago. They can’t believe they’re holding things that are so old,” added Pippa.

The archaeology workshops, which are free to schools, form one part of the three year Watershed Landscape Project, managed by Pennine Prospects and funded through the Heritage Lottery Fund, which aims to enhance and conserve the landscape and its heritage, whilst improving access for all.

Pippa brings her enthusiasm, as well as her expertise and experience, gained as a field archaeologist and researcher on Channel 4’s Time Team, to the workshops helping to ensure archaeology has a place in the school curriculum. The workshops have proved so popular in Calderdale that the council has bought an archaeology kit to ensure that the workshops run long after the project has ended.

“This is great,” said Pippa, “as it means there’s continuity to this work and that’s our ultimate goal. We’re linking the children with their landscape and heritage and it’s very exciting for them when they discover all this history on their doorstep.”

And the South Pennines is one of the best places in the world to find artefacts from the Mesolithic, or Middle Stone Age, as Pennine Prospects community archaeologist, Gavin Edwards, explained: “In this area the finds and remains have been covered in a layer of peat, which has preserved them, unlike those in the lowlands where they have been destroyed by generations of farming.”

There are a limited number of free workshops available to schools in the South Pennines. For more information contact Pennine Prospects on 01422 847612 or Pippa Rochford on 07816 983522.

Yorkshire Water United Utilities Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council National Farmers Union
South Pennines Association Lancashire County Council Pennine Heritage Kirklees Council Calderdale Council
Bradford District Council Northern Rail Natural England Environment Agency The National Trust