New Group has Taster Session  in Doncaster

What is archaeology?
That was the opening discussion at a taster session for the WEA’s Inclusive Archaeology Education Project held at Milton Court in Doncaster on Monday 12 November.

At Milton Court, the group of mental health service users, some with learning difficulties, discussed what they already knew about archaeology and what they wanted to find out. I began with a visual presentation about archaeology exploring what archaeology is and isn’t (no dinosaurs I’m afraid!), and we even watched a video clip of underwater archaeology. Everyone then had the opportunity to take part in a range of different archaeological activities. ‘Now and Then’ compared old objects with new ones that do the same job. The group considered whether they looked similar or not, and whether or not they would like to use the old objects nowadays which generated a lot of interesting debate! ‘Eating, Drinking and Sleeping’ looked at artefacts, food, and housing. There was the opportunity to draw and describe artefacts, and to find out how archaeologists discover what people ate. A very popular activity was ‘Digging for the Past’, which utilised the newly acquired WEA iPads and the Museum of London app. The interactive nature of this completely absorbed some learners, who located finds on a map of London and then used their finger to ‘excavate’ them. They then recorded their finds and said what they liked about them.

Course organiser, Sheila Smith, was present, as was project coordinator, Victoria Beauchamp, both of whom engaged with the learners and activities and were able to answer questions about the project. We were also lucky to have a volunteer attend, who had already completed the project and was able to share his personal experiences with the group. By the end of the taster session there was a lot of interest in the prospective course to be offered the group in the New Year. Everyone completed a feedback form expressing interest in the course, and highlighting anything of particular interest to them. I am looking forward to teaching on the project, and sharing the progress with you all.

( You can read more of Sarah’s blogs at

Fieldwork Sessions

Church window at Brodsworth.

The Bentley group has undertaken 5 weeks of fieldwork alongside the Goldthorpe and Maltby Groups. They visited Hickleton Hall and were very quick at laying out their fieldwalking grid and identifying the finds.

At Brodsworth Hall the group particularly enjoyed their visit to the church and exploring its history and architecture before visiting the hall itself.

As with the other groups everyone enjoyed building the round house at Heeley City Farm. This tied in really well with the theme of the Bentley Sessions which was the archaeology of the house. One learner is keen to return to the farm to volunteer on a more regular basis.

Detailed drawing of some of the artefacts at Sheffield Manor

At Sheffield manor, learners made some really detailed drawings of the artefacts found at Sheffield Manor and then undertook a tour of the site with the Goldthorpe Group. This was really successful as the Bentley learners were able to help support the Goldthorpe Learners in looking at the structures.

Finally at the celebration event in Maltby the Bentley Learners  were able to help all the learners in the quiz and some expressed their desire to volunteer in future groups within the project.

The Bentley Library Group had a very successful launch on Friday 3rd February. Dr David Mercer and the learners welcomed Councillor Richard Cooper-Holmes to their session. The learners at Bentley are focusing on the archaeology of the home. As part of their course they will be visiting Conisbrough Castle and Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery. They will also be attending the Dearne Archaeology Day organised by Elmet Archaeology on the 25th February.  There will be an article in the Doncaster Free Press on the 9th February about the launch event.


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