18th July 2017:

OA East is supporting a Heritage Lottery funded project to develop, promote and research Britain's lowest lying Iron Age hill fort, Stonea Camp, in Cambridgeshire

When Clemency Cooper, OA’s Community Archaeology Manager, attended a careers fair at Neale Wade Academy in March in Cambridgeshire as part of the project, she was asked by a governor of the school if we could offer a week of work experience to one of the school’s year 12 students. The student duly spent a week in the office, and also assisted at an open day at Stonea Camp, where year 4 students got a glimpse of life in archaeology. Here, the student describes her experience at the open day.

As beautiful as the location and weather was, I couldn’t help feeling that the most wonderful part of the day was the children’s obvious enjoyment. The enthusiasm with which they took on the activities was infectious, and as they threw hands into the air to answer questions, it became apparent that they were in fact no novices to history.

The events offered extremely impressive results. The Roman clay activity produced a table full of pots, figurines and amulets, and it was clear that the children had not merely followed instructions, but had made use of pre-existing and newly gained knowledge to influence their imagination. A Roman style nail and loaf of bread illustrated this. We had not mentioned either objects, but both were in fact accurate in design. It was an encouraging example of how engaged they really were in the topic.

Another activity discussed the nature of decomposition in different materials, and yielded an equally successful outcome. The children’s knowledge in this area was already fairly wide, but all appeared to be genuinely interested when faced with new information; sherds of pottery were handed round, and the replica Roman armour was an instant hit. From the first sighting, there were eager requests from all sides to wear the helmet, and the fascinated question: had we dug it up?

The hours flew by, and as we bid farewell to the school coach, I was able to come to a very confident decision that, for the sake of encouraging a potential future generation of archaeologists and historians, the sunburn had been worth it.