Young Archaeologist Club

A selection of natural dye materials, including onion and beetroot

On 15th October 2022, the Harley Education Team hosted a group of Young Archaeologist Club (YAC) Leaders for a 1 day training event focusing on Medieval Arts & Crafts.

The Young Archaeologist Club is a UK-wide organization for 8–16 year olds, which allows young people to participate in real archaeology and discover why it matters. Leaders also deliver craft-based activities for the young participants based on archaeological periods and technology.

In this training session, the Harley Team’s craft skills, Lift Off Education Framework and the history of the Welbeck estate were all showcased. YAC Leaders were then helped to develop art activities for their clubs. The course was partially funded by Inspire: Libraries, Museums and Culture.

Our first focus of the day was on medieval textiles and dying clothes. Rural medieval women were often responsible for dyeing their own fabrics using natural substances collected locally. This was the inspiration behind the first workshop which was led by Maggie Smith. Using foraged substances, the leaders were given an overview of the medieval practice of bundle-dying, before getting the chance to participate in a hands on activity, dying squares of silk.

Young Archaeologist Club participant

We then looked at medieval manuscripts. Leaders took part in a practical workshop with Maggie where they made ink from acorn caps. Then using either dip pens, or quills which they hand-made, the leaders tried writing and drawing with their inks.

Museum Tour

Following this, Education Manager Fiona Calpperton took participants on a medieval focused tour of the Portland Collection museum. Leaders learned all about the monastic history of Welbeck Abbey and its estate.

They day ended with Fiona delivering a medieval tile making workshop. After learning about heraldry and creating their own heraldic designs, participants created inlaid clay tiles featuring their newly created devices.

Young Archaeologist Club tile example

At the end of the day, leaders were provided with copies of the Lift Off Education Framework, session plans for the activities they had taken part in and book recommendations for further research.

Funded by NCC

‘I just wanted to say a huge thank you for Saturday. I thought it was a great day and I really enjoyed it myself.’

Dr Jo Kirton – Delivery and Engagement Manager for the Council for British Archaeology