Earlier this year, 60 excited nine and 10-year-olds from our primary school as well as pupils from three other local schools took part in an archaeological dig in our school field with the hope of uncovering part of Roman Wetherby, aided by West Yorkshire Archaeological Services.
The children's first job was to dig two-metre square trenches under the supervision of archaeologist Dave Wheldrake. While half a class dug the trenches and scraped the surfaces looking for finds, the other half worked with staff from the British Museum examining finds the children had brought from their gardens. As the week went on, the children were involved in more digging, scraping and find work. Another highlight of the week was a visit from "Roman royalty"; teaching students from Leeds Metropolitan University came to the school and led an entertaining role-play session. Leeds Met also played a large part in the organisation of the event, which is usually held on the university campus.
Nobody had any idea what, if anything, would be uncovered. This was a real archaeological dig for the children and they were really being archaeologists. During the first session Victorian pottery and stones were discovered with great enthusiasm. As days went on, the large river cobbles that the children had at first dismissed started to become significant. It turned out that this was an old road, maybe from the Roman period, but as little was found around it, it was difficult to date. As well as the hands-on work, even children usually averse to putting pencil to paper also produced some fantastic poetry, recount writing, art and map work. It was an exciting, enjoyable and productive week.
Year 5 teacher and humanities co-ordinator, Deighton Gates Primary School, West Yorkshire