In May, we were pleased to welcome back the Jon Egging Trust to our Salisbury office, with a new group of students (12–13 years old) on the first year of their Blue Skies Programme. The programme aims to inspire young people to reach their full potential by engaging in exciting activities and experiences.
Although some of the students thought that archaeology would be a bit dull, our enthusiastic staff opened their eyes to the diverse and interesting nature of our work. All of them participated fully in the sessions and thoroughly enjoyed the day.
Kirsten Egging Dinwiddy set the scene by explaining what archaeology is – both how we do it and why we do it. Later in the day she also provided the students with a fascinating insight into what we can find out from the study of human remains.
The theme for the first year of the Blue Skies Programme is ‘teamwork’, a key element of Wessex Archaeology’s working practices that was highlighted throughout the day, and manager Si Cleggett held an inspiring session based solely around the issue. Activities were designed to get the students to work together, demonstrating their collaborative skills and assessing how each member contributed to the group. A lot of productive discussion and team-bonding ensued.
Vicki Lambert and Tom Harrison of the Coastal & Marine department devised a fascinating activity where the students learned about underwater archaeology, and completed a dive simulation exercise that demonstrated how vital working together is when diving.
The students relished the opportunity to get wet and muddy washing soil samples in our Environmental department, under instruction from Tony Scothern. While showing examples of materials recovered from samples, Tony explained how the Environmental department, and the evidence they find, contributes towards our archaeological projects.
Finds team members Sue Nelson and Erica Macey-Bracken provided a finds-handling session featuring artefacts of different materials and dates. They encouraged discussions about how different people may have contributed towards making an artefact, and how they would have worked as a team using the objects to achieve a common goal.
Any initial doubts about archaeology soon disappeared, and by the end of the day Phil Harding’s flint knapping demonstration earned him, and Time Team, a new generation of fans. He even let them have a go at using a flint axe to sharpen wooden stakes. The experience was met with such enthusiasm that people felt the need for Phil to sign their shirts!
We would like to thank Jon Egging Trust Youth Liaison Officer, Kaye Jackson, the staff from St Aldhelm’s Academy, and Drew Tallentire from the Southampton University Air Squadron for supporting the visit. As always, it is a pleasure to be able to contribute towards such a fantastic programme.