Exploring, Discovering, Learning

I want to make the Past, both History and Prehistory, more exciting, relevant and 'hands-on'. It's a fun place with some great stories, I want to share these with everyone.
I work with schools, museums, community groups, either at their place or outdoors in the Landscape.
I develop and deliver projects. I create resources. Exploring the Past and our shared heritage, bridging the divide and Discovering the links between these artefacts, sites or museum and Us. I try to put objects back in context, helping people Learn about the past. I use objects, both orginal and replica, costume, crafts and role play, in other words - Living History.

I'm a member of a small group of like-minded people - The Deja Crew

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Maryport Roman Festival

This is the second summer that Senhouse Roman Museum have held their Roman Festival. There aren't may places were you can have a converstaion with Centurion, a Potter and and Georgian Gentleman!
During July and August the TYNE TEAM made a number of apperances, bring the museum to life with activites and crafts.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Romans on the Railway

The Head of Steam - Darlington's Railway Museum at North Road Station held a Roman Festival in the 18th July.
Why? I hear you ask.
Darlington looks after the site of Roman Piercebridge and this is the second year they have held a Roman Festival complete with bus trips to the site of the fort and bridge at Piercebridge. I was providing Roman themed craft activities, this year we made 'signaculum' or 'little identifiers', the Roman equivalent of dog tags. Along with herbs and fish sauce to sniff and artefacts to handle, we had a very busy day.

Advanced Learning Centre - History. June/July 2010 at Segedunum

Based at Segedunum Roman Fort in Wallsend the Advanced Learning Centre is now in it's fourth year. For six weeks in June and July around 25 children each week ,gave up 6 of their Saturday mornings to find out more about History and Archaeology. We studied maps, aerial photographs, took part in a simulated 'dig', recorded finds and explored the ancient techniques of dying and weaving under the expert hands of 'Textiles through Time' - Ruth Hicken.
By using archaeology we developed new skills and hopefully inspired curiosity in the children, most of whom will start secondary school in September.
"Thanks very much - that was so much fun"

The Advanced Learning Centre is part of the North Tyneside Councils, Gifted and Talented provision.

Epic Epiacum

May saw a new venture to a new fort - Epiacum. Known locally as Whitley Castle, the fort lies on a hillside a few miles north of Alston, Cumbria and the site could well be described as the North of England's best-kept Roman secret. There have been just two recorded excavations, about 1810 a part of the bath house was exposed and in 1957/8 a trench was dug across the northern ramparts.

From the 18th to the 21st May 2010 over 200 primary school children visited the site. The living history event was organised by the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in partnership with Elaine and John Edgar, the owners of Castle Nook Farm and the land where Epiacum sits.

Firstly the children 'travelled back in time' using a train from the South Tynedale Railway. After a sort walk from the halt at Kirkhaugh up to the fort the children took part in a series of activities investigating the people who have been involved in landscape around Epiacum through the years. They discovered what life was like for the Roman soldiers stationed in the fort. Paul Mercer from the North Pennines Heritage Trust explained the lifestyle of the Miner/Farmer from the 18th Century. Archaeologist, Paul Frodsham and Naturalist, Heather McCarty brought the landscape up to date.

For Elaine Edgar of Castle Nook Farm, the event was the realisation of her dream of turning her farmland steeped in history into an education and visitor centre. She said: “This will be the first time we’ve had school groups visiting the Roman fort and bastle house. We’ve still got a long way to go, but the AONB Partnership events have got everything off to a terrific start.”

"Days like these stay with children forever and can inspire a lifelong interest.” Fiona Knox, Education Officer with the North Pennines AONB Partnership

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Discovery Visits on Hadrian's Wall

For the last two years Maximus (Steve Richardson - http://maximusvi.terapad.com/ ) and myself have provided Discovery Visits for the English Heritage sites at Housesteads and Chesters. This year promises to be our busiest yet.
In costume, we explore Roman military life and discover how the building of Hadrian's Wall affected the local population. The Centurion Maximus or the Evocati Maximus Secundus will help the new recruits take on their role and explain their duties as soldiers of the Roman Empire. Recruits will be drilled and trained, before being shown the inside of the fort.
We use costume and objects, both real and replica to help immerse the childen in the experience and we hope to provoke curiosity about life on the edge of the Roman Empire.
Our first visits are as the weather picks up, towards the end of April and we are busy well into June.

For more details and how to book a Discovery Visit to Housesteads or Chesters, visit the Englilsh Heritage website at http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/server/show/nav.19524

Thursday, 18 March 2010

the Wall to Wall project

This is the other big project I'm involved in at present. These two characters
may well appear in an exhibition I'm co-ordinating at Segedunum Roman Fort in Wallsend.
Over the past 10 years Burnside Business and Enterprise College and Segedunum have worked closely together, the culmination has been the Wall to Wall project. Part of 'People and Place', a British Museum project, the whole school has been involved. All of Year 7 spent a 'Cultural Day' off timetable, discovering about Roman times and exploring their own identity by looking at favourite objects that meant something to each of the 5 senses. A smaller group has been thinking about what objects can tell us about the past and what objects could tell future generations about us. Much of this work will be on the Wall to Wall website (http://www.wall-to-wall.org).
The school has been developing links with School Number 19 in Hebei Province, near were the Great Wall of China begins. Both ancient wall are World Heritage Sites, both valued for their 'outstanding universal value' and have helped Burnside become a UNESCO 'Associated school'. This link with China has inspired work by other students, including GCSE Art.
The theme running through the exhibition is 'exploring ourselves', looking at the questions,
Who Am I? - exploring contemporary identity
Who Are You? - looking at the cultural identity of their partner school in Hebei
Who Were They? - what can objects tell us of the people who lived at Segedunum in Roman Times
The exhibition will open on 27 March 2010, so come along and explore your identity.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Campaign! Make an Impact

Campaign! Make an Impact is an innovative project that uses the Past to teach Active citizenship in the 21st Century.

I am involved in a pilot project to use the 3 step model developed by the British Library (see www.bl.uk/campaign) along Hadrian's Wall World Heritage Site.

Things are moving along, we have 2 groups on Tyneside who began by looking at a campaign from 1870's South Shields. It had been known for many years that a Roman 'Station' lay buried beneath the farmland on 'the Lawe', but in 1875 the building of houses began. Robert Blair, a local solicitor and member of the Society of Antiquarians of Newcastle upon Tyne, gathered support and ran a campaign to excavate and preserve as much of the fort as possible. Blair kept scrapbooks, with letters and newspaper cuttings describing what happened. Eventually the Town Council designated a part of the fort as the 'People's Roman Remains Park' , saving the site to later become Arbeia Roman Fort.

Using this resource the groups have now decided on campaigns that they will run. I'm hoping to post updates on these and the work of the 3 groups at the Cumbrian end of the Wall in a separate blog -http://campaignmakeanimpact.blogspot.com/- so watch that space.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

It's a New Year

it's a New Year so a new skill - blogging. The aim of this blog is to let people know what I do for a living.
I'm a Freelance Heritage Educator, at least that's what I tell the Taxman, but it's quite difficult to describe what I do. Basically I try to link Museum and Archaeological sites and collections to adults and children. I do costumed interpretation. I devise and deliver workshops and series of workshops, aiming to
  • explore the past
  • discover what the significance is
  • and learn how this is important today
I've worked with English Heritage, Tyne and Wear Museums, North Tyneside's Gifted and Talented Summer Schools, Find Yout Talent, Northumberland National Park and the Head of Steam (Darlington Railway Museum) among others. Over the couse of last year I've
  • dressed as a Roman Soldier to lead Discovery Visits at Housesteads, Chesters and Corbridge
  • been involved in Burnside College's Wall to Wall project, investigating identity and heritage [ www.wall-to-wall.org ]
  • ran a Summer School where primary age children made film - Segedunum, it's the Fort that Counts - and found out about life in Roman times
  • was Victor the Beneficarius in Touching the Wall - a living history event run by the Tyne Team [ www.tyneteam.co.uk ]
  • ran an Advanced Learning Centre for North Tyneside's Gifted and Talented programme. Over 6 weeks Year 6 children discovered Archaeology and experimented with textiles and made their own pottery.
  • turned Medieval for a day, interpreting Harbottle Castle in Northumberland.

I hope this has given you a feel for the things I do, if you want to know more or have a project I could help with, drop me a line at rlwsn@btinternet.com

Over the coming weeks I'll add the things I'm involved with at the moment.