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Children learn to appreciate heavy metal - and the ‘kings of bling’ of prehistory

24 May 2007

The current fashion for ‘bling’ is not just a modern day phenomenon, as schoolchildren taking part in an ongoing Historic Scotland education initiative are finding out.

The programme, specifically designed for Highland 2007, highlights how the development of metals changed prehistory. And in addition to discovering that metals became vital to the daily lives of people thousands of years ago - used to make everything from weapons and tools to a wide range of items in the home - the children are learning how popular jewellery was during the Bronze and Iron Ages and how highly prized it was as a statement of wealth, power and prestige.

Historic Scotland has been offering Primary 7 pupils from schools in the Highland region the opportunity to visit a local archaeological site accompanied by a costumed interpreter who shows them round explaining how the site was built and how prehistoric people used it. A second interpreter then leads a classroom session in which pupils can handle replica artefacts typical of the Bronze and Iron ages, including tools such as bronze axes, spearheads, hammers and anvils, and jewellery such as massive bronze armlets, and ‘gold’ lunula necklaces.

The children find out how, for example, a flint arrow could bring down a deer and how gold was made into jewellery over 2,000 years ago.

Tricia Weeks of Historic Scotland’s Education Unit said: "The aim of the initiative is to encourage pupils to take an interest in their local heritage by introducing them to prehistoric sites in the region and replica artefacts from the Bronze and Iron Ages. This teaches the children how such archaeological evidence is used to help us understand what daily life in prehistory was like.

The visits to, for example, brochs, cairns and hill forts, and follow-up classroom sessions enable the children to learn a great deal about a wide range of subjects and really get a good insight into this fascinating period of our country’s past. They gain an understanding of the technology of the periods and hopefully also an appreciation of the need to protect and preserve their local heritage for future generations."

Schools from Inverness-shire, Ross and Cromarty and Skye have already taken part in the Historic Scotland project and this week, it is the turn of children from a further five Skye primary schools – Glenelg, Kyleakin, Broadford, Elgol and Struan – to undertake visits to local sites such as Dun Beag and Dun Telve Brochs and the ongoing excavations at High Pasture Cave.

Further sessions will be taking place during September for schools in Caithness, Sutherland and Inverness.  There are still some sessions available and primary teachers interested in booking these for their pupils should contact Tricia Weeks on 01667 460208.

Notes for editors
Historic Scotland cares for 345 heritage properties and sites throughout Scotland, from the Highlands and Islands to the Borders, ranging from prehistoric dwellings to medieval castles, and from cathedrals to industrial buildings.

Visits to these historic sites can help bring Scotland’s past to life and the agency is committed to maximising the unique learning opportunities presented for all ages by the properties in its care. Historic Scotland’s Education Unit provides a comprehensive programme of initiatives, activities and resource materials aimed at encouraging children and adults to learn about Scotland’s history and culture. The unit has created a diverse range of imaginative learning opportunities to realise the educational potential of Historic Scotland sites.

The unit’s Schools Education Programme comprises a varied and colourful range of activities designed specifically for school groups.  These include themed tours, costumed role-play, drama, storytelling, re-enactments, art and design, traditional crafts, medieval music and dancing. The emphasis is on raising awareness in schools of Scotland’s built heritage – and encouraging children to appreciate its importance, both locally and nationally, in giving us an insight into our past and our cultural identity.

Historic Scotland’s mission is to Safeguard Scotland’s historic environment and to promote its understanding and enjoyment.

For further information

Kate Turnbull
PR Executive
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8959