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Mesolithic Studies Master's Student Runs Outreach Activity for Hertford Vale Primary School Pupils

Posted on 15 March 2019

Andy Langley instructed Key Stage 2 Students in Mesolithic themed hands-on experiments

As part of Scarborough Museums Trust continuing activities in working with local schools around the Mesolithic site of Star Carr, the Trust has commissioned a short film be made showing a number of Key Stage 2 pupils visiting archaeological sites and centres. To facilitate this, the students interviewed Prof. Nicky Milner about the excavation of Star Carr and Langley led them in a series of Mesolithic themed hands-on experiments to help them learn about prehistory.

At the end of January the pupils and the filmmaker arrived at the University of York to ask Prof. Milner their questions and visit the York Experimental Archaeology Research (YEAR) Centre, a small area of woodland on the edge of the lake at the Heslington West campus, used for research and teaching experimental archaeology.

The students arrived in full costume and listened eagerly to explanations of how Mesolithic people lived and made their tools. They were each given a small piece of shale which they then ground into a shape of their choosing using a coarse stone. As they ground their shale Langley explained that similar stones had been found at Star Carr and that they were probably used as beads. After grinding they then used a special flint tool called a mèche de foret to perforate a small hole in the shale and they were given a loop of cordage to create a necklace or a bracelet.

Finally, Langley gave a flint knapping demonstration, which prompted many questions about how flint tools were made and the equipment needed. The knapped flakes were shaped into rough scrapers and the students had a chance to briefly test them by scraping the bark from short sections of wood. Finally they had a chance to further explore the YEAR centre, looking at our flint nodules, sandstone and hearth. They took away their bracelets and pendants as well as some flint scrapers to keep for their classroom. Alongside the filming, the hands-on engagement with materials, along with making objects using period techniques, gave the students a clearer understanding of the Mesolithic and what life might have been like in the Stone Age, effectively supporting the delivery of Key Stage 2.