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Roman artefacts help care home residents feel at home

Posted on 12 October 2021

A team from the University of York and the York Archaeological Trust took York care home residents on a trip through time to explore the city’s Roman heritage.

Chris Tuckley from the York Archaeological Trust helping Amarna House care home residents to imagine living in a Roman home. Credit: Romans at Home Project.

Using archaeological artefacts excavated from around York, replica items and a selection of smells like lavender and frankincense, Chris Tuckley from the York Archaeological Trust helped Amarna House care home residents to imagine living in a Roman home. 

The activity - known as ‘Romans at Home' - was designed by Digital Heritage MSc student Eleanor Drew, with funding from the York Impact Accelerator Fund and an Open Access award for bringing scientific research to the public.

The residents were impressed with the artefacts and expressed views that Roman life wouldn’t be easy. 

Dr Colleen Morgan, Lecturer in Digital Archaeology and Heritage from our Department of Archaeology, said: “Seeing Roman artefacts in the hands of people living with dementia, and the potential impact of heritage for outreach and wellbeing was extraordinary. It was one of the best uses of archaeological artefacts I’ve ever seen.

“The activity was designed to bring archaeological research and artefacts to people confined indoors, a common problem highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The idea is to bring museum and heritage experiences to a wider audience.”

Romans at Home forms part of the outreach programme for the OTHER EYES project led by Dr Morgan. This Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project aims to bring multisensorial experiences of the past to the modern day. 

Based on the success of the activity and recent research findings, Dr Morgan explains: “There are plans to expand the project, as a recent study suggests that museum object handling increases wellbeing in people living with dementia, particularly at early stages. This will be a key focus point for the future of this study.”

Notes to editors:

For more information contact:

Dr Colleen Morgan