The group has now finished the 15 week course. The learners have grown in their confidence at describing and discussing archaeological material, working together and mixing with new people. In fact meeting new people was one of the outcomes of the course that most learners highlighted as being most enjoyable.

The manager of the centre commented that ” everyone had a real feel good factor around these sessions and that they generated ongoing communication skills.”

Our aim is that these learners will be able to tell new groups about what they have done in a taster session in the autumn and that they will continue to explore their local heritage.


Our celebration:

Making posters about the places we visited.

The weather has not been kind to us this year. We had planned on doing a mini archaeological investigation in the gardens of the Addison centre but unfortunately this must have been one of the wettest days of the year. Instead we had a mini celebration event.

Learners from Bentley, Goldthorpe and Maltby came together at the Addison centre and we had review of all the places we had visited together. Learners had chance to add their comments about the visits and we made posters about all the activities we had done. We then worked together in mixed groups to do a quiz as a way of reviewing everything we had learnt and finally we had the presentations of the certificates.  The learners said how much they had enjoyed meeting up with the other groups. One of the Goldthorpe learners made a speech saying how much he had enjoyed the course and thanked all the staff involved.

A learner receiving his certificate.

Visit to Sheffield Manor

Practicing our excavation skills.

The visit to Sheffield Manor was  declared by the learners and support staff to be the best visit. After a brief intorduction to the site learners were able to undertake a ‘mock’ excavation, look around the site with education

Examining one of the kitchen fireplaces.

officer Peter Machen and visit the turret house.

In the excavation, a sandpit located in the cellars of the manor house, learners were able to practice troweling carefully and using their knowledge gathered over the past 13 weeks identify some of the finds and what they were made of.

Ladies and gentlemen walked up and down the long gallery.

On the tour of the other buildings on the site Peter Machen explained to the learners the layout of the buildings, what they were used for and brought to life some of the people who had visited the manor house including the Cardinal Wosley and Mary Queen of Scots.

With the help of learners he demonstrated how the long gallery was used and in the turret house Peter explained the differences between a feast and a banquet.

Experimental Archaeology

“The mud was very cold”

We spent the day at Heeley City Farm experimenting with different crafts used during the Iron Age. The learners were able to make coil and thumb pots, try to spin wool from the sheep on the farm  and have a go at weaving. We also helped with daubing the round house. At the end of the day we agreed we still had a long way to go before we could survive during the iron age!


The purpose of the day was to demonstrate to learners how archaeologists can improve their understanding of the artefacts they find by having a go at recreating them themselves.

Learner Comments:

“I was surprised by how big the house is”.

“I think the round house would have been very warm and cosy. I enjoyed working on the roundhouse”.

“I liked pushing the clay onto the roundhouse. The mud was very cold”.

Making a coil pot


The group have started their fieldwork. Last week it was woolly hats and gloves and this week suncream and sunhats!

Our first session was at Hickleton Hall where we had  fantastic day with Elmet Archaeology learning about laying out fieldwalking grids and the types of finds that we could expect to find. Due to the awful weather over the past few weeks we were not able to do ‘real’ fieldwalking but the exercise proved to be a valuable one. Learners learnt to use tapes supporting each other to make a 10 by 10 metre square. We then ‘hid’ finds in the grid while they were away at lunch and asked them to find them. At first many of the learners walked too fast and missed items but they soon got the hang of it. We then spent some time discussing the different material types and reinforcing what we had learnt in the classroom. The learners then shared their findings with the Maltby and Bently groups who had also set up grids and practiced their fieldwalking skills.

The second session was at Brodsworth Hall. Here we looked at the garden features and discussed why the owners might have wanted to include them in their garden. There was definitely a continental feel to the gardens on such a lovely day. The learners completed I spy Sheets to aid them in analysing what was in the garden. We also visited the church where the Vicar made us most welcome and pointed out the interesting features such as the grave of the grandfather of the person who built the Hall and the mouse at the bottom of the lecturn.

The learners were amazed at the beauty of the dining room in the house and the large billard table. Although the learners live only 10 minutes away none of them had ever visited before and it was a pleasure to show them round. The EH staff made us exceptionally welcome and chatted with the learners answering all their questions about the billard table, the paintings and the kitchens.


23rd March

The group, together with those from Bentley and Malby, visited Doncaster Museum and Art Galley to take part in the Villa in a Box workshop. Learners were able to handle real roman artefact including perfume bottles, pottery, coins, tiles, and the important roman invention of cement. They also got to try on some replica roman armour.

A fully equipped Roman soldier. “It was really heavy.”

After the workshop there was time for the learners to look round the rest of the museum and find out more about their local heritage.

In the 16th March we looked at what an archaeologist can find out from a burial. We discussed different types of burial and cremation and looked at Sutton Hoo and Egyptian burials in more detail. The learners then made their own ‘burials’ in a box lid and selected artefacts to go in them. Below are some pictures of the results.

We visited Conisbrough Castle on the 2nd of March. We had a great morning looking for architectural features in the castle and having a go at recording some of them by drawing and photographing. Learners discovered how the walls were built, the

A Learner recording his thoughts about the castle.

A Learner recording his thoughts about the castle.

various buildings that were located in the inner ward and greatly enjoyed their tour of the Keep with Dr. David Mercer and some of the learners from the Bentley Group. We also worked alongside learners from Maltby and their tutor Nicola Thorpe.

“I have had a really good day and I made it to the top of the keep” said one learner.


Eleven Learners have signed up to take part in the project from the Dearne Locality Unit. Mark Woodcock from the centre said, “It is all about our service users pursuing an interest in something out of the ordinary WEA supply something that no other provider does in this subject.”

Learners have been looking at the history of Goldthorpe. They discovered that the oldest building on the Barnsley Road was the Horse and Groom Pub. They also looked at the the demolished houses on Main Street. This is archaeology in the making. We found lots of pieces of old bathroom tiles, a tupperware box lid, a smashed sink as well as bricks and slates. The learners carefully recorded their finds by weighing measuring and drawing them.

The learners also visited the local church, possibly the earliest prefabricated concrete church in the country. “I really liked visiting the church” said on learner.

A learner carefully recording one of our finds.

In future week the group will be visiting Conisbrough Castle and the Museum and Art Gallery in Doncaster.  ” I’ve really enjoyed every bit of it so far” said a learner at the end of our launch.


4 responses to “Barnsley

  1. Conisbrough Castle – What an enjoyable day! This was only my second session with the Barnsley group and I came away from Conisbrough feeling extremely rewarded – as a volunteer and in many ways as a learner too.
    The day was very interesting with the various aspects of history and archaeology allowing me to interact with a mixture of learners. It was the perfect opportunity for me to get to know everyone!
    My slight inhibitions about being a volunteer for the WEA and the archaeology group were certainly put at ease by the learners and staff alike.
    I will be very much looking forward to up and coming sessions – Time Team watch out!

  2. Welcome aboard Beth! And thanks for all your help at Conisbrough.

  3. The Roman soldier is fantastic!

  4. Last week the Goldthorpe group got together with the Maltby and Bentley groups for a fantastic course finale. We looked at a slideshow of pictures from throughout the course showing all of the places that the group has been. We also did a quiz which reminded everyone how far they had come over the course – it got very competitive, but everyone got 10/10!

    We were hoping to do dig a test pit in the grounds of the Maltby day centre, but unfortunately the heavens opened as soon at Victoria put on her boots, and so we decided it was a bit wet. Despite this the learners had a great day doing activities indoors, and everyone was sad that the course was ending.

    As a volunteer it was really nice to see how far the learners had come and how much they had learnt throughout the course. Even though it was the only time that I worked with these groups, I was made to feel very welcome by both the staff and the learners. I’m now really looking forward to volunteering on the field trips with the Sheffield group.

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