Remembering the days when Romans ruled the roost

13th February 2004 at 00:00
A superb resource pack available from the Museum of Antiquities in Newcastle allows any primary school to plan and carry out a rewarding study of Tribes and Romans in Britain. But it does much more and does it with clarity and zest.

The pack forms part of the Reticulum project from the museum which was recently shortlisted for the 2004 Gulbenkian Prize for Museum of the Year.

Its Northumbrian origins ensure a wealth of possibilities for local investigations. But even if your visit to what was once the troubled border of a vast empire is conducted only through a computer screen, there is much to attract the eye and stimulate the mind.

Three elegantly planned modules, each of four lessons, provide a richly imaginative approach to the topic.

First we go back into the distant past, creating a sense of many earlier generations and learning something of what vanished time actually means.

Then we encounter the Celts and the complexities of their civilisation, followed by the Latin-speaking invaders who bring a new militarised way of life.

At each stage of the exercises, there are thoughtful questions about evidence, opportunities for exercising thinking skills, suggested extension activities, links to websites and other useful resources. Texts from Caesar and Tacitus and anonymous writers of inscriptions provide a human dimension, vivid evidence from men and women who merely happen to be long dead.

Jan Gurney, from Warkworth Church of England first school, Morpeth in Northumberland, has used the materials twice with Years 3 and 4.

Furthermore, she has been able to apply the framework offered here to organise fruitful study of the Vikings and the Victorians.

Children from her classes have been able to visit the Museum, equipped with questions that make them effective collaborators with adult archaeologists.

"It does more than teach history - it brings history to life."

This Way to the Northern Frontier from Museum of Antiquities, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU. pound;25.00 (free to first schools in Northumberland). http:museums.ncl.ac.ukreticulum

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