Outreach and community involvement is a crucial aspect of our project and over the last few days, our project team have been extremely busy coordinating various different outreach programmes each containing many different activities. As well as having our usual youth group and school visits we also undertook activities for another village open day, and this year we organised a children’s festival day for two of our partner schools; Trinity and Oakington Primary.

The first of these was Saturday when our archaeologists took part in their final village open day. The day’s events focused on a number activities and tours. The open day has always been an exciting time for our project team, and offers us the opportunity to continue one of the projects crucial elements, outreach. In order to prepare for this one of our site directors Faye, gave a seminar to the students on the history of public and community archaeologies and their importance both on small and large scales. Our project at Oakington served as an important example of how, when done right, outreach can bring both communities and the archaeology together and facilitate the sharing of knowledge between both groups.

We began Saturday with a team photo, which started as we meant to go on, with spirits running high.

Our activities included:

  • Our intrepid outreach team who were on hand throughout the day to offer site tours to the public. These tours included showing people around our current trenches and discussing the exciting history of Oakington’s archaeology.
  • We also offered numerous arts and crafts activities for the children; including making your own swords and brooches, as well as the opportunity to get slightly muddy and help our team wash some of the finds.
  • Unique to this year visitors were able to witness the building of a wooden boat using traditional methods.
  • Finally, we had a previous year’s skeleton on display in the hall to show people what archaeological bones look like. Alongside this, we had a number of artefacts from this year and in 2011. One of our most recent finds, the Henry II silver coin, proved to be very popular, and audiences also enjoying the similarities between the medieval sickle we found and a modern one. Throughout this, the public were able to ask questions of our specialist team of finds experts and skeletal specialists or talk to Richard and Duncan about the project.

As always the end of day party was a great fun as village and archaeologists danced to a local blues band in the events marquee. Some archaeologists were amongst the last up.

The second event the children’s festival took place on the 25th June, and with HLF funding, we were able to facilitate two school groups: Trinity and Oakington Primary school. The morning session of the festival proved a huge success and was a chance for the pupils at Trinity to show off what they had learnt over the last two years; they displayed their archaeological diaries and used picture boards illustrating their visits to Sutton Hoo, West Stow, and the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. We were also able to offer the students a modern spin on some historical cuisine in the form of a Hogs roast, fortunately there was enough for our archaeologists who happily helped clean up the leftovers.

On hand to provide activities for both of our school groups was a food historian who provided many dishes based on an Anglo-Saxon inspired recipe book (these included different spreads such as honey butter and cream cheese with rose water), and some friendly Anglo-Saxon reinactors who discussed weaponry, magic and traditional remedies. Additionally, the children were able to see the progress on the boat project and ask questions.

During the afternoon, Oakington primary made clay pots, and saw a skeleton lead by one of our skeletal experts who talked them through human anatomy.

After two weeks we are now halfway through the project and still have many more school and youth visits booked in to see the site, they will undertake different arts and crafts activities, and have tours. Additionally, we encourage anybody to come down to site for a day and try their hand at archaeology, or even just have a tour of the site and experience some of the exciting work we’re doing in our trenches.

-Bones without Barriers