The project has now come to an end after a successful two years working with schools and communities to explore local heritage. The project worked with over 900 pupils, giving them outdoor learning experiences that they will forever remember. With an inter-generational outlook on history and archaeology in rural areas, people have come together to learn from each other. The project also spanned the difficult transition years for school students involving them in a common theme both in separate primary schools and together once at secondary school.
Through both classroom based and outdoor learning, visiting places of historic importance on their doorstep, core skills such a numeracy, literacy and problem-solving are enhanced as well as improvements to all-round sense of health, well-being and pride of place. Continuous Professional Development for teachers has also encouraged the use of archaeology as a tool for delivering the Curriculum for Excellence in a way which engages children with practical life and work skills.
We began in 2012 in South Lanarkshire touring primary schools delivering practical and engaging workshops to Primary 7 pupils. The sessions involved mock excavations, map work and artefact handling with input from local enthusiasts from Lanarkshire Family History Group and Biggar Museum Trust. From there we moved over to the Scottish Borders again targeting Primary 7 pupils just before they made the transition to secondary school. With help from the Scottish Storytelling Centre, Borders Family History Society, Hawick Scottish Borders Council, Hawick Archaeological Society and local people who just fancied joining in, we engaged 400+ children and 30 adults in a series of outdoor sessions in the Borders.
Workshops varied depending on accessible heritage close to schools. For example, children from Strathaven visited a local historical graveyard, using numerical and spatial skills to record the standing gravestones whilst local experts could explain the carvings and tell stories about some of the families buried there. A similar visit was arranged to an ancient graveyard near Jedburgh. One of the biggest, logistical exercises involved 181 year 1 pupils from Hawick High School all visiting the same site over three days. Stobs Camp lies just outside Hawick and is the remnant of the most important WW1 training and internment camp in Scotland. Local enthusiasts brought the site to life for the children as they learned how to use manual and digital recording techniques to survey the standing and semi-buried archaeology.
The project has given hundreds of pupils tailored learning experiences that they will never forget whilst giving teachers the confidence as well as the resources to undertake outdoor learning with future classes. Lastly, it has given a platform to community groups and volunteers to share their incredible knowledge of local heritage, fostering a wider sense of well-being and community in rural Scotland.
The project has helped establish a framework for how Archaeology Scotland delivers outdoor learning, and we are keen to carry out similar work in the future. For now, keep up to date with the latest AS learning resources on our website here, or all our projects here.