New ways to explore old places – encouraging outdoor archaeological learning in Scotland

Photo collage showing small girl drawing a standing stone; large group of children watching solar eclipse; lego model of chambered cairn; group of children with exhibition boards

History has shaped us all and exploring evidence from our shared past can help us understand the world we live in. But archaeology is not just about digging trenches and filling museums. It is a methodology and a way of thinking that can help piece together clues from our shared past. Through observation and discussion, ideas and theories take shape. Using archaeological recording techniques at an historic site can be a great way to explore the past and learn in a truly cross-curricular context.

We've published this collection of articles and activities to encourage place-based learning. Through discovery, exploration and sharing, young people can develop their critical thinking skills, creativity, confidence and teamwork.

Outdoor Archaeological Learning bookletAn outdoor resource for teachers

This learning resource is full of great content, with advice and guidance supporting a range of activity suggestions, from time lines to graphic stories (the Celtic myth of The Sorrow of Derdriu and the Anglo-Saxon legend of Beowulf) and cut out models. It's all based around the idea of going to visit an archaeological or historic site, recording and discussing it, then creating an interpretative poster with both factual text and creative drawing and writing.

Outdoor Archaeological Learning (PDF 8.2MB) is intended for anyone taking groups of children to an archaeological site: teachers, youth group leaders and archaeological educators. Delivering Scotland's Archaeology Strategy and supporting Outdoor & Woodland Learning Scotland.

 

Na Clachan Aoraidh

The ‘four poster’ stone circle of Na Clachan Aoraidh is our cover star. An archaeological measured survey was recently undertaken of Na Clachan Aoraidh by terrestrial laser scanning, providing an accurate baseline record of the site and this fab 3D animation. The video helps demonstrate that what is square on the outside can appear circular from the inside! You can find out more by visiting the Archaeology InSites pages.


 

Photos (clockwise from left):

  1. Recording Scotland's archaeology at the Eagle Stone in Strathpeffer, a Pictish symbol stone around 1400 years old.
  2. Place-based learning can blend history with science. These schoolchildren are watching the solar eclipse in February 2015 at the Whitehills recumbent stone circle in Aberdeenshire, a late Neolithic ceremonial site over 4000 years old.
  3. Place-based learning can include a range of follow up work, creating models such as this fine LEGO chambered tomb, based on a Neolithic chambered tomb on Arran perhaps over 5000 years old.
  4. The Inverness Young Archaeologist Club at the hillfort of Torr Dhuin in the Highlands. Following a site visit, the children created a pop up exhibition of their archaeological reconstruction drawings, all based on an interpretative theme or illustrative technique.