YAC Leaders' Weekend 2018: Brilliant buildings in Bedford
For more than 40 intrepid YAC volunteers, the weekend of 19th and 20th May was not about the Royal Wedding, or even the FA Cup final... it was YAC Leaders' Weekend time!
Every year, the Council for British Archaeology (which runs YAC) organises a weekend for volunteers to come together to share ideas and learn new archaeological activities to try out with their YAC members at their local YAC clubs. This year's weekend, based in Bedford and hosted by Albion Archaeology, was all about brilliant buildings archaeology!
Listed buildings and Lego!
Our YAC volunteers were challenged to work out which buildings and structures from a selection of pictures were listed. A listed building is one that is protected by law, and people are not allowed to make changes to it, or demolish it, without special permission. The volunteers were surprised which buildings were listed... they included a car park, a swimming pool, a bank, and even a water tower!
After deciphering the clues and matching listed buildings with their official 'listing' description, our volunteers had a go at recording a building constructed out of Lego! They learned that the skills of observation needed to create drawings and descriptions of a Lego building are exactly the same as the skills used to record buildings archaeologically.
Exploring St Cuthbert's Street
Having practised their recording skills on the Lego buildings, our YAC volunteers had a go at the real thing! They headed out onto St Cuthbert's Street in Bedford, to become buildings detectives and track down clues for how the buildings had changed and developed through time.
Armed with specially designed recording sheets, the volunteers spotted blocked up doors, changes in roof height, extensions and new windows.
If you want to record your local buildings archaeologically, you can download our recording sheet and have a go yourself!
Recording churches and graveyards
On Sunday morning, with the sun still shining, our YAC volunteers had a tour of St Mary's Church in Bedford, which is now home to the offices of Albion Archaeology. They were challenged to spot different features of the church, including places where the building had been altered or extended over time (this happens in lots of churches, and you might be able to spot clues in your own local church!). The YAC volunteers also learned how different window styles in churches can help you to tell how old different parts of a church are. They drew the tracery of the windows; tracery is the name given to the carved stone that breaks a church window up into different shapes and patterns.
Meanwhile, in the graveyard, other YAC volunteers were busy recording the gravestones and memorials. About 20 million memorials are thought to exist in churchyards across the UK. Recording and analysing the information found on these gravestones, markers and other memorials provides a huge wealth of evidence about the lives and deaths of people in the past.
If you want to record the gravestones in your local churchyard, you can download our recording sheet and have a go yourself!
If you are recording buildings or graveyards archaeologically, you must always take an adult with you, and you must make sure that it is safe! Some buildings and graveyards can be dangerous, so ask an adult to check before you visit, and remember to ask permission if you are going to places that are not open to the public.
Our final treat on the YAC Leaders' Weekend 2018, was a special trip to explore the National Trust's Willington Dovecote and Stables. The volunteers were able to explore these awesome Tudor buildings, which are not regularly open to the public. We were lucky enough to see inside too!
Huge thanks to everyone who made the 2018 YAC Leaders' Weekend possible, through sponsorship and invaluable help. Our partners included:
• Albion Archaeology
• The Higgins Museum & Art Gallery in Bedford
• Council for British Archaeology: South Midlands
• Morris Homes Ltd
• Whitmore Plant
• Bedford Borough Council
Download our FREE resources
If you want to find out more about brilliant buildings archaeology, download our free resources booklet now! The booklet is packed with information about buildings archaeology, and includes lots of activity ideas.
You might want to share the booklet with your teachers - buildings archaeology would be a brilliant way to explore your school! Or perhaps you're looking for a project to do with your Cubs, Scouts, Guides or Brownies?!