23 Nov 2022

Scotland Online YAC: the first six months

In July 2022 we teamed up with Archaeology Scotland to launch the Scotland Online YAC club thanks to funding from Historic Environment Scotland. YAC Leader, Jane Miller, tells us all about the first 6 months and how the club is getting on.

In July we launched the Scotland Online Young Archaeologists’ Club and we have loved exploring Scotland’s amazing archaeology with some fantastic, curious and knowledgeable young people. Despite the online format, the group have gelled really well and there’s always plenty going on in the zoom chat with participants sharing their own experiences of places they’ve visited and objects they’ve found.

At the start of our first workshop, we plotted all our young archaeologists on a map of Scotland – we have participants zooming in from across the country; from the Isle of Lewis, Moray, Aberdeen down to Dundee, Glasgow, the Borders and beyond!

Our first workshop was an introduction to archaeology with presentations interspersed with games, activities and quizzes. Our Mystery Object quiz featured a spindle whorl, so we carried out some Experiments with Spindle Whorls, a great activity from AOC Archaeology.

Face masks on Stenhouse Pottery jugs inspired our creative activity that day. Stenhouse Pottery was produced in Stenhousemuir, near Falkirk, in the 14th and 15th century. Each face is unique and they have a lots of different expressions. Using modelling clay and salt dough we all had a go at making our own face masks.

Following that first workshop in July we’ve met monthly, apart from September when we met twice! We had an extra, special workshop in September to celebrate Scottish Archaeology Month.

Most workshops have included a live site visit and we’ve zoomed into digs and historic sites across Scotland. We’ve joined Archaeology Scotland’s archaeologists on site in Ardnamurchan, Wessex Archaeology at the site of the Union Chain Bridge near the English Border, National Trust for Scotland’s archaeology team at Brodie Castle in Moray and for our October workshop we zoomed into Greyfriars Kirkyard for a Halloween/Day of the Dead special with our Mexican Learning Assistant, Fernanda. We really appreciate the support of all the archaeologists who’ve let us virtually join them on their excavations where they’ve shared their knowledge and passion with the group.

We’ve had so many interesting sessions. In August we headed over to the beautiful Ardnamurchan Peninsula on the west coast of Scotland. A Viking boat burial was discovered at Swordle Bay in Ardnamurchan in 2011 during excavations carried out by the Ardnamurchan Transition Project. The first, and to date only, complete Viking boat burial on the British mainland. We explored site drawings, photographs of the artefacts, talked about the isotope analysis and made our own Viking Boats from kitchen foil!

Jack's Viking Boat: handmade silver foil boat with lego burial

It’s been great to get to know our young archaeologists and so rewarding to see them get to know each other, share their knowledge and creative endeavours!

We’re looking forward to a Christmas extravaganza with activities planned by Grace, an archaeology student placement from Glasgow University, and then in the new year we’re planning workshops based on the group’s interests. We’ll share that with you next year!

All the young people in the group are working towards a Heritage Hero Award. The Heritage Hero Awards are Archaeology Scotland’s wider achievement award, designed for history, heritage, and archaeology projects. We’ve created a bespoke booklet for our YAC members to complete and we look forward to awarding certificates at the end of March.

Front cover of the Heritage Heroes Booklet

Featured image copyright Falkirk Community Trust