Introducing our Moors and Valleys YAC
On a chilly February morning, Moors and Valleys YAC based in the beautiful North York Moors National Park opened its doors for the first time. The new YAC is open to anyone aged between 8 and 16 years of age,and has an exciting series of events and sessions planned, exploring everything from skeletons and pottery, to stratigraphy and henges.
The first session, held at The Moors National Park Centre, Danby, North Yorkshire, was run by Marie Woods, of Heritage Adventures. She introduced our group to British archaeology. Here, the new YAC leaders explain what they got up to…
What’s archaeology all about?
With 14 new YAC members, and a host of leaders in tow, the group set about getting to know each other. Although a little shy at first (though perhaps just a little sleepy!) we were soon all into the swing of it and were busy discussing the tools and techniques of field archaeology. We thought about what we might find, how we might find it and what these things could tell us about people in the past. All of this was wonderfully helped along by Marie’s excellent (and delicious sounding) stratigraphy cake! With everyone fully sold on the idea of archaeology being the understanding and recovery of ‘stuff’ from people of the past, we began our first activity: rubbish detectives.
Marie developed a fantastic introductory activity, getting our YAC members to hunt through bags of rubbish (it was clean we promise!) to find clues about the people who would have thrown it away. With five different people and lifestyles to identify, the hunt for clues began.
Everything from food and drink packages, receipts for expensive jewellery, perfume bottles, hamster treats and takeaway menus were in the mix – but who did they belong to?
With our YAC members happily split into groups, each group set about working their way through the rubbish and profiling the kind of people who might have thrown that item away and why. We had everyone from a teenage boy eating takeaways and sweets, to an elderly couple who liked biscuits and whiskey. We had people with pets, some with expensive tastes, some who did gymnastics and others who liked DIY. It was a fascinating task, which really got the YAC members to talk about and engage with ‘rubbish’ and what it tells us. Afterwards the whole group had discussions about the type of people the rubbish belonged to; it seemed like everyone had established fantastic profiles for the people – not such 'rubbish' detectives after all!
After a small break (Jaffa Cakes are always essential!) the YACers got to do some hands-on work with real archaeological artefacts and replicas. An array of finds from pottery and jugs, to Egyptian charms and a gas mask packed the table from which they could each select objects. They were able to handle and take away their objects, looking at them and drawing them.
By drawing the objects, the members were able to appreciate that there is always so much more detail to an object when you look closely. With some stunning works-in-progress, everyone was absorbed in their drawings until the very end of the session.
With budding archaeologists and artists all around, star prizes were super tough to award; so tough in fact that Marie couldn’t pick just one but two! What a fantastic start to what is going to be a wonderful new club!
Our next session, ‘Down to the Bare Bones’, will be held at Teesside University, Middlesbrough. If you would like to get involved check out our YAC page or email email@example.com. Booking is essential.