During the two weeks prior to the start of the excavation, I accompanied Catherine on some of the in-school archaeological workshops.
The aim was to give the children a basic understanding of archaeological excavation, what we were hoping to discover, and what they might expect to see and do when they came to visit Under Whitle.
The first school to be visited was Earl Sterndale Primary where we were made welcome and introduced to the children.
Catherine gave a PowerPoint introduction to the project, with photos of the site and simplified explanations of the different techniques that we have been using to find out what might lie beneath the surface. These included descriptions of how LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), the geophysics, such as magnetometry, resistivity, and tape and offset surveys work, and what they can reveal about the past and the hidden features of the landscape.
The children then had the opportunity to look at paper copies of these surveys and enjoyed having a go at picking out what they thought would be the most likely spots to excavate.
This was followed with another hands-on activity outside on the field, creating a time-line from prehistory to modern times. The budding archaeologists then tried their hand at excavation techniques using trowels and brushes to discover artefacts hidden in sand trays in preparation for real trenches when the came on their visits.
The following the week was the turn of Hollinsclough Academy where the children had the same workshop – enjoying the opportunity to learn new skills which they could then put into practice when they also came to try their hand at the dig.