On Wednesday 26th April Years 3 and 4 accompanied by some parents visited the Chiltern Open Air Museum at Chalfont St Peter to experience life in the Stone and Iron Age.
Each class participated in two workshops. Year 4 began with the Iron Age house and learned some of the skills necessary for survival in that time. The house itself is built around a round wooden frame. The walls are then built up of daub - a mixture of clay, water and animal dung. A hole would have been dug out of the ground and then the children of the tribe would have mixed the daub using their feet, tramping it down into a useable material. Luckily for Ladbrooke the museum did not need any additional building work carried out!
Inside the house were wooden frames for sleeping on. These would have been padded out with hay and then covered with animal skins for warmth. The house had a fire pit in the centre, which not only gave warmth, but was used for cooking. The fire was not allowed to go out as this was very important to the tribe. A metal trivet was hung from above and supported an iron pan. They also had a griddle for cooking bread. A 'fridge' was made by digging a hole in the earth and covering it with a wooden lid, this enabled them to keep meat and perishables cool.
Each class had a go at making clay pots, churning butter, weaving fences, grinding wheat and making dough for the bread.
The Stone Age workshop showed children the skills that people of the day needed to have. Stone Age people were nomads, moving to wherever there was food. The children made shelters comprising of a wooden frame covered with animal skins. They also learned how to mark out the camp to keep away evil spirits, how to make fire using twigs and dandelion fluff, how to weave twine and how to cook food using the open fire.
The children were encouraged to find roots that had been hidden around the forest for them to cook. These roots were actually parsnips which were placed underneath the fire itself, left for about 30 mins, after which time they were taken out. The skin had thickened - rather like a banana skin - and so could be peeled back revealing the soft, warm skin of the roasted parsnip. It looked delicious, but sadly we were not allowed to share it!
Stone age people used the nature around them to survive. Every part of an animal killed was used, apart from the obvious, skin and meat, brains were used to soften the animal skins so they were comfortable to wear. Horn was used for making horns to call the tribe together and warn of danger, but also for drinking utencils, toggles to hold clothing together and even needles to sew with. The use of all of the animal showed the tribe's respect for its sacrifice.
The trip coincided with the sudden return of the north wind and thus a high of only 8°c, but in fact this gave us an even greater appreciation of what life would have been like in those days. Despite the cold, both classes really enjoyed their time at the museum as you can see from the slide show below.