Developing speaking and listening skills through Archaeology

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Heritage Heroes recently received funding from Paul Hamlyn, a fund which provides opportunities for young adults to develop their speaking and listening skills. The Primary 7 pupils from Hawick learning community were given the opportunity to work as an archaeologist. It was explained to pupils that archaeologists always work as part of team and clear communication was important throughout. Each pupil was given a role e.g.we had team leaders, investigators, curators and diggers. In their teams, they excavated an archaeological burial with human bone and artefacts. From the evidence the pupils had to come up with a theory on who this person was, is it male or female/rich or poor/ what job did this person have when they were alive and rather gruesomely how did they die! We’ve had some interesting theories from soldiers dying in battle to housewives falling over plant pots! To come up with these theories, the pupils had to listen to each others opinions on what the different artefacts might tell us about the life of the person buried below.
This session gave pupils the opportunity to develop essential transferrable skills for the workplace such as working together as a team and asking sensible questions to gain more information on the burial. Great debates were had among the pupils when deciding their interpretation. Why not have a listen to some of these theories and decide for yourself who this ancient person might be!

Drumlanrig Primary School

HLF Landscape EnglishPupils working on a burial


What’s in the field beside you? Biggar High school survey the ruins of Boghall Castle

Once Boghall Castle was one of biggest castle to be found in the Southern Scotland, today it is easy to pass right pass and not notice it at all. Senior 1 pupils from Biggar High school explored this site with expertise and help of Archaeology Scotland and Biggar Museum Trust. Pupils discovered looking at OS maps of the local area, found out why the Fleming family decided on this once marshy land. The hills behind the castle gave it great protection and the Roman road in front where Biggar town  grew provided a gateway for getting around South Lanarkshire. Pupils discovered that this castle was built for defence with it’s thick walls and round towers which would have protected the family and the locals if they were ever under attack.

Ed Archer who excavated the site with Boghall castle came to visit and told the pupils of his discoveries, including evidence of attack from the remains of lead bullets shattering against the walls!

The pupils did such great work they even ended up in the Gazette, check out the article here!


Strathaven Academy record the ghoulish symbols of the Old Cemetery in Strathaven

The Senior 1 pupils of Strathaven Academy took on the role of an archaeologist and explored one of the oldest sites in Strathaven; the old Cemetery as part of the Heritage Heroes Project This cemetery sits on a hill overlooking the town and the pupils discovered through researching old maps that there was once at church at the bottom of the hill called St. Mary’s built in before the 13th Century. The only clue to this church is that the oldest gravestone are still located in this area.

The pupils found out that a cemetery can tell the history of the town by looking at the surnames, jobs and how people died including some of the local legends such as James “Perlie” Wilson and the Covenators. As well, they inspected the wide range of 18th Century symbols on the gravestones some a bit gruesome such as skull and crossbones, the timer, a warning to us all that our time on this earth is short! Members from South Lanarkshire Family History Group were on hand to help them record these gravestones.

The pupils were also concerned about the conservation of the cemetery as many of the gravestones have been knocked over due to anti-social behaviour. They are currently working hard to highlight to the local community the issues surrounding the cemetery and the important history it tell can tell us all.

This project was funded by South Lanarkshire LEADER and HLFImage