Young archaeologists uncover past

Members of the Young Archaeologists’ Club learn how to use a Magnetic Susceptibility Meter. Photo: Barry Pells, courtesy of The Auckland Project.

Children as young as seven, are getting hands on with history as founding members of a new Young Archaeologists’ Club. 

From the Roman era to the present day, the club delves deeper into the hidden past of Bishop Auckland.

Members meet monthly to explore different aspects of archaeology, learn new skills and see the past from a new perspective.

The new club has been established by The Auckland Project, the latest in a nationwide network of Young Archaeologists’ Club, co-ordinated by educational charity, the Council for British Archaeology. 

Sessions to date have included a visit to Binchester Roman Fort where the young historians got up close with Roman ruins, had a go at identifying archaeological finds and learned to write Latin phrases with Roman- style ink made from ash. 

At the latest meeting of the Young Archaeologists’ Club in January, children explored the archaeology of battlefields and had a go with a magnetic susceptibility meter, a piece of archaeological equipment used to learn more about the remnants and signs left behind on sites such as battlefields.

Over the coming months, the group will also investigate the lives of the powerful Prince Bishops of Durham, from leading armies to entertaining royalty at their former home, Auckland Castle.  

And as part of The Auckland Project, members of Young Archaeologists’ Club will have unique access to the latest finds and fascinating insights from archaeological excavations taking place there. 

Carys Harper, Learning Officer at The Auckland Project, runs the sessions alongside a team of volunteers with a wealth of experience in fields including archaeology, anthropology and forensics. 

Carys said: “Archaeology is a great way to spark young imaginations and help history come to life.  Archaeological finds, excavated from ordinary looking fields can tell you what people who lived hundreds of years ago would have eaten, how they dressed and how they spent their time. 

“And with the excavations taking place at Auckland Castle and Binchester Roman Fort, we’re really lucky to have new opportunities to learn more about our past and we wanted young people to be a part of that.”

Auckland Castle is currently undergoing a major programme of conservation, supported thanks to National Lottery players via the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). It will form the centrepiece of The Auckland Project, a visitor attraction being developed in the town. The Project has a dedicated Engagement Team which works with the community to deliver programmes for all ages, as part of a long-term aim to create opportunities for learning, employment and skills development. 

The Auckland Project Young Archaeologists’ Club is suitable for children aged between seven and 11 years old and meets on the second Saturday of every month, between 10am and 12pm.

The next meeting will be on Saturday, 9th February at the Learning Room, Mining Art Gallery, Bishop Auckland Market Place and will focus on art in archaeology, from creating their own prehistoric art to using modern techniques to analyse paintings.

All Young Archaeologists’ Club sessions are £2 each and places are limited so booking is essential. 

To book, email bookings@aucklandproject.org or call 01388 743 797.

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