A recent school visit – Rock Art & Artefacts

Archaeology in the City were invited back to a primary school on the edges of Sheffield and had a great afternoon session with the Key Stage 2 kids supporting their prehistory module.


The children had already visited Creswell Crags and learned the basic timeline of prehistory. They had made some very cool cave paintings of various megafauna, like the Lascaux cave art, but hadn’t seen much of the pecked or engraved rock art which is so common in Yorkshire.

Activity 1: Artefact investigation. The children were divided into small groups, and each group was given a selection of artefacts including large hand-axes, pottery fragments (Roman, medieval and post-medieval), animal remains (bone or oyster shells) and some other miscellaneous field-walking finds from the University of Sheffield Archaeology Department. The kids were asked to line up the artefacts from what they thought was the oldest to what they thought was the youngest. The Archaeology in the City demonstrator then talked through the timeline with the groups and set out an accurate timeline.

Activity 2: Artefact drawing. The children were then asked to pick an artefact and record it on a simple “Small finds” form, including a simple drawing, and info on the colour, material, any marks on the artefact, and what they think it is.

Activity 3: All about Rock Art. After a quick slideshow Yorkshire engraved rock art and a Q&A about the differences between rock art and cave paintings and how they are made, the demonstrator asked the kids what they thought rock art was used for. After a quick break for school photos, the kids came back and drew their own rock art panel with an interpretation of what they think their particular piece of rock art would mean.

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Bonus: The son of a PhD candidate at the Department is a big Minecraft fan and made an “Ancient Egypt Minecraft” poster for his history class, which now graces the pinboard in one of our PhD offices. He very kindly let us take it in to the school and it was, hands down, the most popular part of the activity. The teacher suggested the children try to make a stone age scene in Minecraft as some fun homework – we look forward to seeing the results!

Published by archinthecity

Archaeology in the City is the student-run volunteer outreach programme from the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sheffield.

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