This week Wessex Archaeology’s Alix Sperr made a visit to the newly renovated Nonconformist chapel in Sheffield General Cemetery, for a workshop with pupils from Dronfield Henry Fanshawe School.
The Nonconformist Chapel exists in the heart of the Sheffield General Cemetery in the district of Sharrow, Sheffield. Commissioned by the General Cemetery Company and designed by Samuel Worth in the 1830s, the Chapel served as a place for friends and family to remember their loved ones before burial. Dormant since the 1950s, the Chapel has been recently renovated to provide a unique venue for public events.
Wessex Archaeology was very excited to be one of the first organisations to be invited to use the space to present a workshop as part of Sheffield Festival of Science & Engineering 2017.
After an introduction to how science is used in archaeology, the pupils were tasked with analysing the clues given from archaeological remains discovered during excavations of a burial by Wessex Archaeology. Working in teams they had to decide which pieces of evidence may give clues about the identity of the individual buried. Some clues offered more information that they bargained for, and some were just red herrings.
As well as evidence cards, grave plan and burial photographs, the pupils were shown a reconstruction of the burial using beautifully handcrafted replica artefacts and a life-size plastic skeleton. Seeing the skeleton laid out surrounded by some of belongings offered a new insight into the practice of burying the dead and got the pupils thinking about how the individual was laid to rest and why they were buried with so many belongings.
After a great discussion on who the burial belonged to, the pupils were given a guided tour around the cemetery by local historian and heritage interpreter Janet Ridler from Sheffield General Cemetery Trust.
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(photos courtesy of Janet Ridler from Sheffield General Cemetery)