Discover Archaeology at Basing House
This is a fascinating and instructive day for KS2 students, giving them the chance to explore our past in a unique and interactive style. Find out what an archaeologist does and have a go at digging in our specially made pits. Handle and investigate genuine archaeological artefacts to learn about lives in the past.
Working together as part of an investigative team, pupils will examine a range of archaeological artefacts discovered at Basing House and work out what this tells us about Tudor life. They will also have the opportunity to work together in our digging pit, using techniques employed by archaeologists across the world, learning how to locate, handle and record artefacts on site. They will be investigating what survives in the archaeological record and what decays and what this means about our understanding of the past.
The session supports
- Learning about Tudors, including the differences between the lives of rich and poor
- Historical enquiry
- Historical interpretation and recognition of the importance of preserving the past for the future
- Learning Values: creativity, thinking skills, independence, interdependence
Length of Session 3 hours (but allow additional time for lunch, if required).
Cost £75 per class (a maximum of two classes can be accommodated).
For further information and to make bookings, please contact Linda Owen on 01256 403905 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note that the digging pits have been especially created for learning sessions at Basing House and are not genuine archaeological digs. They are designed to show how a real archaeological dig works and to give children an experience that is as close to life as possible. The pits are lined with fibreglass, filled with play pit sand and seeded with genuine archaeological artefacts that come from a variety of sources.
The timetable below is indicative only and can be adjusted to suit your travel arrangements. Two classes can be accommodated by alternating the two key sessions. Please divide each class into 4 groups before arrival and allocate one member of staff or an adult helper to each group.
- 10am – Arrival and welcome in the car park – walk to site
- 10.15am – Introduction to the day
- 10.30am – Session 1
- If required, a snack break can be built into the timetable
- 11.45am – Session 2
- 1pm – Finish and depart or stay for lunch and self-led tour of the site
You will be met on arrival in the coach park and escorted to Basing Grange, with a chance for the children to spot key features, such as the mill, river and fish ponds, on the walk. Once at Basing Grange, you will gather in the Great Barn for an introduction to the day and then taken, in your classes, to your first activity area (the Learning Centre or the digging pits near the ruins of Basing House). Toilets are available in both areas. Time has been built into this timetable to allow movement between the different areas of the site.
Session One – Tudor Archaeology at Basing House (Learning Centre)
A chance to discuss what archaeology is and why we use it. Explanation of how the session will run
Activity 1 – Interpreting Archaeology
Working in their smaller groups, the class will have the opportunity to handle genuine Tudor artefacts discovered at Basing House. They will use the skills of an archaeologist to investigate the materials, working out what the objects once were and sharing their findings with the rest of the class.
Activity 2 – Materials
Each group will be given a collection of replica Tudor objects to examine and will be asked to consider the materials they are made from. Why were these materials used and what do they tell us about life in Tudor times, especially the differences between rich and poor?
Activity 3 – Survival and Decay
The groups will then be asked to consider how the different materials would fare over time and, by comparing with the original Tudor artefacts, work out which would survive and which would decay. The objects will then be sorted by the whole class into different classifications and the class will discuss what this means with regard to our understanding of the past.
Activity 4 – The Dustbin Game
Each group will be given a ‘dustbin’ and asked to sift through the evidence to work out who would have owned it. Don’t worry – there will be no rotting food to go through!
Session Two – Digging Up the Past (The Digging Pits)
A demonstration of the techniques used by archaeologists and an explanation of how the session will run.
Activity 1 – Digging
Working in teams of three, children will have the chance to work in the digging pits. Each person will spend 5 minutes on one of the three tasks undertaken by the team; digging, investigating the spoil and recording finds.
Activity 2 - Working with Finds
While half the class are digging, the other half will be working with finds, both objects previously discovered at Basing House and objects recovered on that day’s dig. Objects will be recorded in a variety of ways, including detailed descriptions and scale drawings and information will be available to help interpret the finds.
Time to tidy up the site and to answer any questions about the finds.
Free coach parking is available at Basing House (use RG24 8AE for SatNav) and a free car park for anyone travelling separately. The site is very close to Junction 6 on the M3.
If you wish to stay on for lunch, packed lunches can be brought with you and stored in the Tack Room. Lunch can be eaten at the end of the sessions, or between the two sessions if you have a later start.
During warm weather, we recommend picnicking around the ruins of the house, where picnic tables and benches are available and the Lodge Museum will be open for visits. During cold or wet weather, we can provide covered seating at Basing Grange, with a visit to the gift shop if required. Goody bags can also be made up at pre-agreed prices if you would rather not visit the shop.
If the weather is good, why not have lunch in the Walled Garden and borrow our selection of Tudor games, complete with instructions? The King’s Game, skittles and shuttlecock are available
The Lodge Museum
The newly refurbished Lodge Museum, which tells the story of Basing House from Norman times to the present day, includes child friendly interactives, many of which are about the Tudor house. You are welcome to take your classes in their pre arranged groups into the museum over lunch time.
Explore the Site
Using the text panels arranged around the site at key points, find out more about the Norman, Tudor and Stuart history of Basing House. Discover the Civil War earthworks, the massive curtain wall and the impressive great well.
Toilets are available in the Learning & Community Centre, by the main gate to the site of the Basing House ruins and under the Lodge Museum. There are accessible toilets at both locations and a further accessible toilet below the Museum.
Hazard and Site Information
Basing House consists of the earthworks and ruins of the house which was destroyed in the Civil War. Please can you ensure that all people are wearing suitable footwear. Heels should not be worn, as they increase the hazards on the site and are unsuitable for exploring the ruins. Open-toed sandals are also inadvisable. Trainers, Wellington boots or walking boots are ideal.
Children should bring warm clothes, wet weather gear or hats and sun cream according to the weather. The site is very exposed and there is little shelter other than at Basing Grange. As your class is visiting an archaeological site, please make them aware that they must treat it with respect, by not climbing on banks or standing on any brickwork.
Your coach drops you off in the car park, where you will be met by a member of staff. From here you will walk to Basing House, which involves crossing a small road and walking alongside the river and fish ponds. Children are to walk carefully along this path, preferably in single file, being aware that there is water either side of them.
During the activities taking place in the Learning & Community Centre, children will be handling archaeological and replica objects. Guidance will be given on object handling and toilet facilities are available in the same block for hand washing at the end of the session. During the digging, children will be digging in sand and handling archaeological objects. Hand wipes and hand gel will be available, as will non-latex gloves for those who wish to wear them.
The digging activity takes place near the ruins of Basing House, which is on a separate site on the other side of the road. You will be escorted to a crossing point opposite the gates to Basing House and a teacher must lead all pupils over the road, which is a busy one.
When walking around the site please be aware of the natural environment (hills, slopes, uneven ground, long grass etc) and that the ground can be slippery when wet. The earthworks are out of bounds to all people and must not be climbed. If any of your children are likely to have allergic reactions, please ensure that inhalers, epi-pens etc. are brought with you; the pollen levels can be very high.
As Basing House is a large open site, we require teachers and adult helpers to stay with their designated groups at all times, which requires a provision of 4 adults per class.