Last week, the Heritage Heroes project delivered 3 days of outdoor learning with S1 pupils from Hawick High School at Stobs Camp, near Hawick. The project had previously engaged with close to all of the primary schools in and around Hawick, so the sessions gave us the opportunity to reconnect with the pupils after they have made the transition to secondary school.
Stobs Camp was one of Scotland’s largest Prisoner of War camps, being home to thousands of (mainly German) captives during WWI and WWII. The camp had a profound impact on the local area and its name still lives on in the memories of local people today. The name is also familiar to the school children of Hawick, being the site of numerous personal connections such as dog-walking, camping, horse-riding and scout trips. However, for most of the pupils, the history and archaeology of the site was still to be explored. The site has many challenges, from roaming livestock, asbestos filled buildings to its sheer size and scale (as demonstrated in the picture above!), but once these had been mitigated, it made an incredible backdrop for enlivening festival of outdoor learning.
Over the three days, 158 S1 pupils came up to take part in outdoor learning sessions. The ethos behind the project is to try and involve local people and groups in the school’s learning, demonstrating the value of community connections. As a result of this, we were lucky to be joined on site by a range of experts, individuals and groups across the three days, all chipping in with their enthusiasm and knowledge, making the sessions both vibrant and engaging. To try and make the sessions as worthwhile as possible, each class took part in a number of activities whilst on site;
In their classes, pupils and their teachers investigated the last remaining wooden hut on the site, studying it in the context of maps and plans. Working in small groups and armed with an investigation sheet, the pupils walked round the perimeter of the hut, assessing its condition, whilst also looking at how it matches with the huts shown in the photo from the 1940s. The pupils also discussed risks to the future preservation to the hut as well as ways in which it could be protected. Ideas for protecting the site were far-ranging, from legal protection, site interpretation and restoration, to CCTV, barbed fire fencing and even armed guards!
Led by Claire Druett (a creative storyteller) and Jared Squirrell (founding member of the Borders Family History Society), pupils listened to, retold and created their own stories about the Camp, examining how people fit in to the archaeology that the site holds. Creative storytelling gave pupils a platform to develop their speaking and listening skills, sharing their ideas and encouraging those around them.
The sessions were designed to allow the sharing of knowledge from different local groups and volunteers, allowing for a co-authored examination of the site to help boost our shared understanding of it, fostering a sense of community at the same time.
Local archaeologist Andy Jepson (@theandyjepson) designed basic measured drawing sessions to show pupils some of the tools used by archaeologists to produce basic site plans. This involved the pupils drawing and measuring out what they saw in front of them, adding in compass points and headings, whilst theorizing about what they believed the structure to be and why. The sessions demonstrated the immense dexterity of archaeology as a tool for learning; utilizing a wealth of skills such as numeracy, drawing, speaking etc.
On Wednesday, we were lucky to be joined by David Hill from Hawick Museum and Hawick Archaeological Society. David has a considerable knowledge about the camp (and specifically about the amazing collections material that the museum holds in relation the site, and was therefore able to lead pupils on an exploration of the site’s forgotten cemetery.
Also joining us on Wednesday was Kelsey Jubin (Creative Learning Assistant from Scottish Borders Council), Tim Abbot (a teacher in training), Ian Lowes (Ex-president of the Hawick Archaeological Society) and Derek Robertson (Hawick historian and creator of an amazing website about the site which can be found here). It was particularly engaging for the pupils to meet Derek, whose website they had looked up in school and in their own time before coming to the camp, showing just what can be done with a passion and knowledge for a local area.
The pupils finished the sessions by discussing the sites history and archaeology, recording each other talk about if they think the Camp is important and why. The recordings can be heard by using the links below.
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Jared Squirrell, who has been involved with the project in both its primary and secondary school phase, articulated what he felt he has gained from the project this far.
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Archaeology Scotland would like to thank the teachers and staff at Hawick High School for their support and assistance throughout. Thanks also go to Andy Jepson, Claire Druett, Jared Squirrell, Kelsey Jubin, David Hill, Tim Abbot, Derek Robertson and Ian Lowes. Lastly, we would like to thank the pupils of Hawick High School whose natural inquisitiveness and sense of adventure made the sessions enriching and rewarding for all who took part.
For more information on the camp;
Stobs Camp – http://stobs-camp.bizhat.com/
RCAHMS – http://canmore.rcahms.gov.uk/en/site/86444/details/stobs+camp/
Other useful links;
Scottish Srtorytelling Centre – http://www.tracscotland.org/scottish-storytelling-centre
Hawick Museum – http://www.museumsgalleriesscotland.org.uk/member/hawick-museum-gallery
Borders Family History Society – http://www.bordersfhs.org.uk/
Hawick High School – http://www.hawickhighschool.co.uk/
Hawick Archaeological Society – http://www.airchieoliver.co.uk/