Working with Stoke Cannon school

Adventures with a local primary school in Killerton, Devon

Killerton has joined forces with The Carousel Project and Stoke Cannon Primary School in a project which teaches Year 3 and 4 children about Killerton’s Iron Age Hillfort. Through a wide range of activities on the Clump and in the classroom, pupils will become young archaeologists and historians and learn about what life was like particularly for children during the Iron Age. 

Learning team volunteer Louise Prideaux will be writing a weekly blog about the project which is show on the timeline below.

Latest updates

22 May 17

Exploring the landscape

Today the Year 3 children (and us helpers) became archaeologists for the day as we explored the landscape of Dolbury Hill Fort. We underwent two “training” exercises initially: the first one involved looking at an old Ordnance Survey map to locate the Fort and other landmarks, such as quarries, on the Killerton estate. Afterwards the children played a game where they sorted pictures of artefacts found by archaeologists into their correct historical periods ranging between the Neolithic to the Modern era. This introduced the children to the types of items archaeologists would expect to find in their excavations. Following a climb up into the woodland, the children undertook two carousel activities in small groups aimed at exploring the site as an archaeologist. Both activities encouraged the children to wholly engage with their surroundings. In the first activity the children walked around the ramparts of Dolbury Hill Fort using the OS map. One child in the group marked this route on the map to document the ground they had covered. On the walk the children discovered ditches which corresponded to quarry marks on the map, but their most exciting discovery was a circle of post-holes which, as they learned last week, indicated the presence of some kind of Iron Age building. It was wonderful to hear them speak so enthusiastically and knowledgably as they put the classroom session from last week into practice on the site. The second activity required finding objects with different textures on the ground, sticking them to a record card, and using a colour-match card to show evidence of different colours in the landscape. Through this hands-on exploration of Dolbury Hill Fort, and the practical application of last week’s teaching session, the children are prepared for our final session which will be about responding to the landscape.

Students from Stoke Canon school studying the hill fort at Killerton near Exeter Devon

16 May 17

Understanding the landscape

After a three month break the Dolbury Hill Fort project resumed with an exciting session looking at archaeological site formation processes. In other words, the children learned how archaeologists discover what used to exist on an Iron Age site. With the objective of “understanding the landscape” we looked at what Iron Age hill fort settlements may have looked like and talked about why people would have chosen to build on a hill. Killerton’s Dolbury Hill Fort, which is a scheduled monument, would have provided both protection and an important meeting place for the community. Following our discussion, the children had the opportunity to recreate a mini-settlement using playdough for the ground, sticks for a palisade fence, wood for the posts of a round house, and other resources such as gems, clay pots, and weapons made from Fimo. Each settlement looked unique and some children had built elaborate rubbish tips outside their round houses! Once the settlements were finished we imagined that the Romans were on their way, and the settlers had abandoned the hill fort taking with them anything that could be used again. Left bare and uninhabited, the settlements would have collected layers of soil which archaeologists would have to excavate to discover what would have existed on the hill fort. The children reproduced this process by removing all the structures from their models, leaving the post holes and stones behind, and covering the playdough with a layer of soil. After swapping their models with each other the children used brushes and trowels to excavate the settlements and discovered the post holes and other evidence of Iron Age life. Through this practical activity, the children began to understand the landscape of an Iron Age Hill Fort in preparation for our exploration of Dolbury hill next week.

devon killerton aerial house parkland

13 Jan 17

Windy weather

Due to severe weather warnings our first session took place in the classroom rather than up on Dolbury Hill. We began by hearing the story of Noni the Blacksmith which is a short story by project leader Catherine Farnell. In the story we learn how all kinds of metal objects are made through building a furnace out of clay, making a fire from wood, and heating iron ore until it is ready for the hammer. A map in the book shows the geography surrounding a hillfort, as well as the journey that one would take in order to collect the precious resources of clay, wood and iron ore. After creating a human timeline to place the Iron Age in history, the class split into three carousel groups with one group making and decorating paper weapons, another group contrasting life in the Iron Age and life today, and the third group learning a song which tells the story of Noni the Blacksmith. Learning by rote would have been very important in the Iron Age as a way of communicating stories and information and in our plenary session the whole class sang Noni’s story together. Next week, weather permitting, we will be up on the Clump to investigate Dolbury Hillfort for ourselves.

Killerton is great fun for winter play