Archaeological finds and the classroom
Some cross-curricular activities for KS2
Education and Outreach Coordinator
West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service
Fieldwalking for Schools
Using archaeological finds is a stimulating way to engage children with the past. Here we explain on way in which schools can carry out their own archaeological fieldwork and generate their own finds.
National Curriculum Links
This activity provides a focus for cross-curricular work on several aspects of the National Curriculum programmes of study. These include.
|H5||Organisation and communication|
An archaeological project of this nature would also provide a suitable focus for work on Unit 18: What was it like to live here in the past? in the QCA scheme of work for history at KS2.
En 1/2 Group discussion and interaction
Work on finds generated by the process could be extended to include art, written work and data handling.
Introduction Fieldwalking is what archaeologists call a non-intrusive method of looking at the past. This means that it is a way of gathering information without having to excavate. Excavation is a destructive activity which should only be undertaken with good reason or professional advice.
Fieldwalking is exactly what it says it is - walking across a field. It's not just a country walk though. It needs to be a ploughed field and the archaeological objective is to pick up material turned up by the plough as this will give you an idea of what might be underneath the ground.
Some teachers wonder if they are going to find anything by this method. What if there's nothing there? they ask. Don't worry there will be. You have to remember that before modern rubbish collection such material was spread out onto the fields as manure. The organic elements of the waste will decay but broken pottery will still remain in the soil for centuries. There is likely therefore to be a scatter of potsherds from a variety of dates over most cultivated fields in the country.
In the classroom
In the field
Back in the Classroom
Your finds should be placed into plastic bags or containers, each of which should have its own label to show where it came from. Archaeologists call this the context. Finds from each context should be kept separate to enable you to make comparisons between different areas.
Working with finds The finds you have gathered can be used in a variety of ways to develop working in English, Art and Maths as well as History. Some suggestions are given below.
Younger children could carry out a molehill survey instead of a field survey. The principle is the same except that children are asked to examine the earth which moles bring to the surface.
Older children could carry out a more detailed survey than the one outlined above. In real life archaeologists would usually divide the field into 20 metre squares and have one bag for each square. This allows for statistical work to be carried out on the frequency of each type of find in each square. High densities of finds would indicate the possibility of buried archaeology in that area.
Teachers working with older children might therefore wish to consider this approach which would bring in measuring and data handling skills.
An alternative for those working with urban schools
Fieldwalking may be difficult to arrange for teachers working with urban schools. An alternative activity would be to organise a garden survey. The principle is similar to fieldwalking but children are asked to gather material which they find on the surface of their own gardens. For more information click here.
For other finds activities click here.
For more information about identifying your finds click here.
For more about WYAAS Education Services click here.
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|A local researcher: Member of a local society or an Interested member of the public.||A Historic Environment Professional.||A Developer.|