Tag Archive for 'Iron Age'

Banquets and Battles

For our July meeting we joined forces with the YAC groups from North Wiltshire and Southampton for a day at Danebury Hillfort.

It was quite a spectacular scene – some people had gone to a lot of trouble with their costumes.

After a good feast outside the hillfort, we all paraded around the top of the bank.

Then we had a go at various Iron Age type activities – making slingshots, painting faces, giving ourselves tattoos and making string from nettles.

Then to battle… We divided into two groups and tested out those slingshots.

But unfortunately for us, our enemies had the wind behind them!

Lucky we made those shields last month!

Dressed for Danebury

This month at YAC members took at trip back in time. Dressed as Iron Age people they went to Danebury hillfort to see what Iron Age life would have been like.

On arrival the “tribe” marched up onto the ramparts, where they were impressed by the number of banks and ditches, as well as how far they could see! Then from this viewpoint they looked down into the centre of the hillfort. Below them would have been the actual roundhouses and they could imagine them nestling there.

The tribe then climbed down into the centre of the hillfort to have a go at some Iron Age activities. First there was weaving to be learnt, then as part of their initiation into Iron Age society, tattoos were designed and drawn onto their hands and faces!

Having learnt that the average size of a roundhouse at Danebury was 10m in diameter, some members acted as human posts so that everyone could see just how big or small it would have been to live inside a roundhouse.

Then, after some fun and games, they tucked into their Iron Age picnics. These consisted mainly of chunks of bread with ham or cheese, pork pies, apples and fruit juice. Crisps and chocolate were not allowed!

After lunch they clambered back onto the ramparts and completed a full circuit of the hillfort before returning to the 21st century.

Iron Age Antics

This month at YAC members visited the Museum of the Iron Age in Andover. They were set challenges to find out more about what life was like in an Iron Age Hillfort!

They saw lots of artefacts that archaeologists had discovered from over 20 years of excavations at the Iron Age Hillfort of Danebury. There was an impressive collection of pots that had been carefully pieced back together. Members had to choose one pot to sketch. Then they had to think about what might have been used to create any patterns on the pot and most importantly what the pot might have been used for. They did this by asking themselves a series of questions such as:

How big is it?
Would it only hold enough food/liquid for one person?
Would it hold enough food/liquid for lots of people?
What shape is it?
Are there soot markings on the outside?

They also learnt about all the foods that people did and didn’t eat in the Iron Age, as well as just how much time and effort was involved in making a loaf of bread!

1: Ploughing a field
2: Planting the grains of wheat
3: Weeding and tending the field
4: Harvesting the grain
5: Threshing – beating cereal plants to separate the seeds or grains from the straw
6:Winnowing – separating the chaff (waste) from grain by fanning the stalks in the air
7: Sieving
8: Transporting the grain from the fields either to underground storage pits or above ground granaries
9: Grinding the grain to make flour
10: Mixing the flour with other ingredients such as beer or water to make a dough
11: Baking it in an oven to produce a loaf of bread!

Members were just as fascinated about death in the Iron Age and they learnt all about how the people then disposed of their dead! They thought about what might have been believed about death and how this was shown in the way they treated their ancestors. The hologram of the body of the strangled Lindow Man was also very spooky!

Surveying Old Sarum

This month YAC members all met up at Old Sarum. The theme for this session was surveying – what can archaeologists learn about a site without doing any digging??

Members had a go at two different surveying activities: standing building recording and landscape archaeology.

Standing building recording

Members were taken into the Great Tower of the Norman Castle. Their task was to use a planning frame to draw a 1m by 1m square of the wall.

But their paper wasn’t 1m by 1m – this meant that they had to draw it to scale! They drew their elevations – the archaeological word for a drawing of a wall – at 1 to 10 (1:10). This meant that every 1cm on their graph paper represented 10cms of wall.

After they had drawn and labelled their elevations they had a go at using a dumpy level to work out the height of the top of their elevations.

Landscape archaeology

Members were taken on a tour around the Outer Bailey, part of the original Iron Age ditch, and had to visually survey – look at – the landscape. They had to look at the landscape today and try to work out;

  • What it might have looked like in the past?
  • What bits have changed?
  • What bits haven’t changed?
  • Why did the Iron Age peoples build their hillfort here?
  • Why was Old Sarum re-used by the Romans and Normans?
  • Members answered all of these questions and many more.

Iron Age activities and Roman replicas

This month’s YAC session looked at daily life in the Iron Age and the Roman invasion. Members were set the task of identifying a series of jobs that Iron Age people would have done.

Then they had to work out what archaeological evidence would be left and how they, as archaeologists, could use this to prove what people were doing in the past.

Having solved this puzzle members were then set the challenge of using their detective skills to interpret an archaeological site. Each team of archaeologists was given a site plan, some environmental data and access to real pottery and animal bones. From this they had to work out as much as possible about the people who lived on the site in the past.

Then half way through the session they were ‘invaded’ by Optio Lucius, a Roman soldier. He came along to tell them not only about the Romans, but to explaine how all the different bits of his outfit had been reproduced using REAL archaeological evidence from the local area!