Heritage series, Article 5: Preservation through education

Our aim in this article is to emphasise the underlying theme of ‘preservation through education’ by highlighting interesting, exciting and relevant projects that can be easily undertaken from your home, school, community centre or local youth café.

Heritage series, Article 5: Preservation through education

The projects, 10 in total, can be done individually or as a series.

The first step is to log onto www.itsaboutime.ie to download the details, additional information, hints and tips, and then experiment with the different recommended websites to see what you can find out about our heritage.

Among the menu of projects is — Studying the Archaeological and Historical Landscape of Your Area — here you will find out how to get information on your built heritage and how to record and report that information.

Combining this with the steps outlined in Project 8 Streetscape — An Historical Landscape and the methodologies provided by the Record Sheets in the Handbook you can design a “Heritage Trail” for your school and community.

Thematic trails can also be conducted if you want to focus on areas that are of particular interest to you and your group, like examining the industrial or maritime heritage of your town.

It is also a great way to advertise your community’s heritage — you could advertise the trail in your school, local shops or community centre or post details through social media.

Throughout the generations people have moved to countries all over the world, therefore, tracing our roots has become popular as people identify with a particular country or culture.

However, many people identify with more than one culture and see themselves very much as a mix of past and present generations from different cultural backgrounds.

If you choose, you could combine Project 8 Streetscape with Project 4 Commemorating the Dead leading to a possible “who do you think you are” outcome.

Consider the concept of commemoration — look at the commemorative places, streets or buildings in your town, interview your parents and grandparents and record stories about their lives, families and friends.

Interesting information about family names and place names, historical events and local traditions can be recorded.

You can add to this by carrying out a survey of the memorials in your local churchyard, record the names and ages of the people buried there and the symbols and decorations used.

Looking at memorials may lead you to discover the effigies and tombs associated with prominent local families that may have connections with a nearby castle. Using this information, review the Castles and Defences article in conjunction with Project 6 Build Your Own Castle.

The challenge is for you and your class to build your own castle, either as individuals or in small groups of 3 or 4 — try and take an example of each form of defensive structure outlined in the lessons. You will need to research, design, plan and build a castle (earthwork or stone) using anything from recycled cardboard, papier-maché or wood, to clay or cake mix — for that perfect motte and bailey.

You should also check online for examples of defensive earthworks or buildings in your area and find out more about their design — paying particular attention to form, fabric and function. Interesting sites include www.archaeology.ie,www.buildingsofireland.ie or have a look at the Offaly Castles Project atwww.gridppointsolutions.com/occ- castles.

You can generate interest in your community and showcase your creative talents by getting permission from your teacher or youth leader to hold an exhibition in your school or community centre with a display of all the different defensive creations you and your class/group have constructed as part of this project. You could even do this as part of Heritage Week (www.heritageweek.ie).

Finally, we recommended that you read Projects 9 and 10 in the Handbook — Archaeological Monuments of Ireland, as well as the Guide to Monuments and Artefacts. Aim to pick a single aspect of archaeological research and find out more about it — you can choose specialities like osteoarchaeology or pollen analysis, or techniques like stratigraphical excavation, geophysics or LiDAR survey.

You may want to focus on a particular type of monument, artefact or period in time or consider the work of a particular archaeologist and his/her contribution to our knowledge of the past.

In all cases it is possible to supplement the information in your project by reading the archaeological investigations available on www.excavations.ie.

Should you choose to base your project on monuments in your area, find out how they are represented on the 1st rd edition Ordnance Survey 6-inch maps, what they look like in aerial photographs and if they have changed over time by visiting (www.archaeology.ie;www.osi.ie).

Other sources of information such as the websites of private archaeological companies, the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland (www.iai.ie) and university and college websites also contain information on recently conducted research projects that may be of help and may also provide information on new scientific techniques being used.

Irrespective of which project(s) you choose to undertake, the aim of the Time in Transition programme and www.itsaboutime.ie is to make learning about our past and our built heritage interesting, relevant and enjoyable.

However, there are a few guidelines to make the process safe and easy. These are outlined fully on the itsabouttime website (pages 44-47 of the handbook) so take the time to read them and incorporate them into your projects — and remember to have fun!

Finally, as illustrated in the previous articles Ireland has a wealth of archaeological monuments and a unique and diverse heritage resource which needs to be both protected and promoted, not just for the people who visit our country every year, but for future generations so that our story can be told for centuries to come.

Our heritage series has focused on Pilgrimage, Commemoration, Castles and Defence, and Working as an Archaeologist.

We have created analogies linking our past to our present and have explored how archaeology and history continue to influence our world.

In discussing Pilgrimage, analogies were drawn between present-day travelling football supporters or music fans with the medieval pilgrims making their way to Santiago de Compostela.

Similarly, in the article on Commemoration, modern celebrations like birthdays and festivals were linked to the commemorative monuments of our past.

In the article on Castles and Defence we examined the development of castles in Ireland highlighting parallels to modern defence strategies, showing how changes in weaponry resulted in a shift in architectural style and the types of buildings constructed.

Working as an Archaeologist demonstrated how archaeological studies link the past and present, the importance of protecting our archaeological heritage and the role that archaeologists play in heritage protection, education and promotion.

All of these articles were aimed at supplementing the recently revised second edition of “Archaeology in the Classroom, Time in Transition”.

The resource offers a comprehensive range of engaging lessons across a series of three themes: Worship and Commemoration; Lifestyle and Living; and Archaeology at Work. All the lessons are targeted (but not exclusively) at students who are undertaking the Transition Year Option I.

All of the projects outlined here are available in detail in the Time in Transition Handbook where supporting documentation, notes and field sheets can be found. It is recommended that this article be read in conjunction with Themes 1-3 of the Time in Transition programme, as well as the accompanying Handbook, available on www.itsaboutime.ie.


DO inform your principal, teacher, youth leader, and parents and get permission.

DO adhere to all the health and safety guidelines.

DO plan well, ie weather, proper clothing, equipment, time schedule including breaks.

DO always observe sensible standards of behaviour and respect other people’s property.

DO get permission to enter private property.

DO recruit a parent, teacher or youth leader to help out.

DO always bring emergency information, first-aid kit and mobile phone.

DO observe conservation regulations and heed all warning signs.

DON’T damage other people’s property or be disrespectful.

DON’T litter.

DON’T leave gates open or block access ways to properties or farmland.

DON’T bring dogs with you — even on a leash.

DON’T enter unsafe buildings, underground passages or caves.

DON’T rush — enjoy the experience!


Look out for archaeological societies and heritage groups around the country — they may be willing to give a talk or host guided tours of the archaeology in your area during the year. Why not join one and find out more?


It is important to remember that churchyards and burial grounds are sacred places and they must be respected and treated with care, so follow the guidelines and memorial record sheets set out in the handbook on www.itsaboutime.ie.


Interested in photography and art? Get your camera out and record the built heritage of your area, or use the monuments and buildings around you as your models for an art project — then you can exhibit your work as part of the third project.

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