Young Archaeologists through the Generations
Look what's turned up in the Council for British Archaeology archives!
We've found scrapbooks made by the Young Rescue clubs - forerunners of today's Young Archaeologists' Clubs - from their summer trips in the 1970s.
Were you there? Do you recognise any of the names that show up?
Of course, young archaeologists in the 1970s went on trips to visit famous sites. Their impressive drawing skills left us with a good idea how some of our favourite places looked back then.
Check out this beautiful map of Avebury, created by sally Townsend and Joe Prentice in 1975
In 1975 the club visted Avebury and drew some beautiful maps of the area, while in 1978 the group went to Stanton Moor, Arbor Low AND Peveril Castle - what an exciting few days! YAC members of the current generation can still visit Peveril Castle and many other heritage sites and museums with the YAC Pass Card.
Just like today, the club got hands-on and found out how archaeology works. In 1977 the group went to visit an excavation of the Caerleon Roman Baths. Club member, Michael Spencer, wrote a section for the scrapbook about the trip, explaining what the pool would have looked like in Roman times, how archaeologists had found roof tiles all around the edge of the pool, and that the excavation would find a flagged stone floor at the bottom of the pool - a very instructive day, clearly!
The groups also got to practice surveying different kinds of historical archaeology. One year the young archaeologists learnt how to fill out recording forms for gravestones, another year they visited Haddon Hall and copied the heraldic symbols, and in 1977 the group even had the opportunity to record the many different shapes of the windows and arches of Tintern Abbey, as in this fabulously detailed set of drawings by P. Joiner.
The drawing shows the following:
door - outer parlour, window - kitchen, window - warm room
window - lay prayer, window - novice lodge, door - novice lodge
drain - under dining room
In 1975 Peter Burt took his visit to the Wiltshire Archaeological Trust very seriously and wrote up a full report (see image below) of all the ways that archaeological objects could be conserved. The cutting edge #archaeotech of the 1970s looks a little dated now (are pneumatic drills still the tool of choice for artefact cleaning?), but we're extremely impressed with Peter's memory for all the different techniques he had seen that day! We hope this early training stood him in good stead later in his career.
And it's not just conservation practice that moved on - we're not sure our Health and Safety team would have been very happy about one trip to King Arthur's Cave in 1977, judging by this club member's account!
"When we finally arrived, NO ENTRY, DANGER was found near the entrance, so we all went ahead inside.
"Surprisingly enough, there wasn't any water inside, so we all crammed into a tiny cave with just one mini pen torch, trying to see where the cave ended. In a separate cavern we found the remains of a primitive Victorian excavation, which was half buried in a rock fall, and outside we hunted for fossils and the like."
Some things don't change though - many of the Young Rescue club days out would be very familiar to today's YAC groups. We hope Butser Ancient Farm are pleased by this glowing review from Sarah Cullen in 1975! Happily, she was quite right and experimental archaeology has become more widespread since the archaeologists there showed how much we could learn by trying to recreate the past. 1975 definitely wouldn't be the last time young archaeologists visited Butser to find out about Iron Age living.
It's great to see how generations of enthusiastic Young Archaeologists have been inspired by the past - we know our YAC clubs today are busy developing their artistic, archaeological and scientific skills just like their predecessors!
If you were on one of these holidays, we'd love to hear from you. Did you use your skills later in your career? Do you have memories of the trips? Let us know!
And if you want to find out more about what Young Archaeologists get up to these days, check out the Young Archaeologists' Club's website and, of course, our Twitter.