Sheffield Blitz 75th Commemoration and Launch

The Sheffield Blitz Memorial Trust launched their two-year project with a bang on Saturday the 12th December. inHeritage are working with the Trust and its partners to remember and interpret the Sheffield Blitz to new audiences. We will lead on oral history training and interpretation, including the creation of a permanent memorial trail of key locations in the city centre.
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Excavating words, making books

The beginning of November saw Georgia with poet Matt Black  in Athersley, Barnsley, for 3 schools workshops.
Our sessions were the culmination of a 4-part series of visits in each school. To introduce archaeology, dig testpits, discuss the analysed finds and what they might reveal about each school site’s past, and finally to engage the children in interpreting their archaeological experiences and finds.

 “I learnt that archaeology isn’t only digging!”

 The children worked in groups. Each group excavated nouns from a themed shoebox of stratified tissue. The themes related to their finds, for example a Blacksmith box, a Coalmine box… The children added their own adjectives and verbs, then jumbled and played with their word ‘artefacts’, creating new juxtapositions and finding phrases that satisfied and fit, others that didn’t so well.
New words and blank word-cards were seized as eagerly as new finds, opening new possibilities for meaning.
Along the way we created a Palaeolithic dictionary in charcoal on a log, and navigated forests of hands reaching for a chance to perform the Ug haiku to classmates.
Eventually, each child created a layered book, with a phrase on each layer and hidden-away secret facts, images or riddles.

 “I loved making my book!”

They were packed and fast-paced sessions, with the children hugely enthusiastic about their books. Matt shared poems and writing tips throughout each session, often involving call and response or other active participation. The grand finale saw 15 young grannies lined up for the Granny Power Rap at Athersley South!

I dig digging

Poet Matt Black was inspired by the Athersley students to create this archaeology poem. Thank you Matt!
As the trowel works down
through layers
I love the pleasure
of sifting through the crumbly soil
so carefully –
actually, you don’t really dig,
you scrape, so you don’t miss, or damage,
the fragile treasure.
Look, is that a piece of glinting silver?
I dig digging.
That old penny, where did it come from?
Who did it belong to?
Who once spent it on liquorice, or beer,
at the end of a hard day in the woods,
or down the pit, or by the fire?
That person stood breathing,
laughing, perspiring, right here.
I dig digging
near the school,
where my grandfather dug before –
I played him once at pool,
his hands were weathered and wrinkly
as he showed me how to hit the ball.
Underneath his fingernails
this very soil.
I dig digging,
hunting, and sieving, and finding, and shouting,
O my God, look what I’ve found,
a skull, like an empty cave.
Though once, its mouth was full
of mashed potato and gravy –
Shaking this riddle,
this moonslip of bone in my palm,
working out the story.