Recent events

--- YorNight ---

On Friday 26th September York YAC took part in YorNight: European Researchers' Night in York. This was a fantastic opportunity to showcase our Tactile Mapping Project with a 'pop-up' exhibition kindly hosted at the King's Manor by the Department of Archaeology. We shared the story of how we made our maps, who we consulted, and why. Members of the public were invited to 'touch' our maps and explore Roman and Medieval York. The use of simulation specs and blindfolds helped to develop understanding of visual impairment too.

September 2014

It was back to our Tactile Mapping project this month with our maps starting to take shape. The leaders created bases from insulating board and cut out the river (Ouse, Foss and Tang Hall Beck) in advance. Members then traced key features onto the board and painted the rivers with a poster paint and pva glue mixture. We then assembled the components that we had created at previous sessions ready to be stuck into place. We discussed our forthcoming 'pop-up' exhibition: how to best show off our maps and tell the story of their creation.

August 2014

This month we had a splendid time exploring the site of the Guildhall Hutments in York with AOC Archaeology. We had opportunity to take part in the community excavations underway as well as to help wash some of the exciting finds. We honed our trowelling skills whilst keeping eyes peeled for features and finds. It was a great opportunity to take part in 'real' archaeology and get our hands dirty! We found lots of animal bone, pottery and building material and the team from AOC archaeology very kindly shared their knowledge of the site and the wider history of York. We hope we're invited back for their next community dig!

--- Festival of Ideas ---

York YAC took part in the Festival of Ideas in June with a 'pop-up' exhibition on our Tactile Mapping Project at the King's Manor. We shared details of our planning: of the consultation undertaken with the blind and partially sighted community; our training on visual impairment with the Wilberforce Trust; and the 'research & development' undertaken into what to depict and how. It was a great opportunity to get feedback from students and staff at the University of York Department of Archaeology and members of the public. 

June 2014

York YAC took a break from our Tactile Mapping Project this month for an informative session on historic buildings conservation led by experts at the University of York. We learnt a terrific amount about lime: what a wondrous material.

Wielding a variety of trowels (!) we put our mortaring skills into practice with the Churches Conservation Trust at Holy Trinity Church, York.

May 2014

It was 'Research & Development' this month as we worked on the York Tactile Mapping project at The King's Manor. First, we revisited the training we received from The Wilberforce Trust back in Feb on visual impairment. In particular, the helpful mantra of: bigger, BOLDER, brighter! We nipped over to the Minster for a quick critique of the bronze tactile map. Constructive points included issues of scale and space between items, as well as how best to provide a key.

Back at The King's Manor - home of the University of York, Department of Archaeology - we learnt about The Wilberforce School for the Blind, which had formerly been based here. Then, it was back to the drawing board with the three period flat maps we created last session. Taking each in turn, we experimented with a range of materials, textiles and colours to find the most suitable for each of the 3D components across all three maps. 

We'll be displaying our progress at the York Festival of Ideas in June!

April 2014

We had a really productive session this month in which we cracked on with our Tactile Mapping project.

Pouring over historic maps of the city we picked out key aspects to depict on our own 3D maps and experimented with different textures, exploring how we might distinguish themes of activity.

We found that the City has evolved considerably over the Roman, medieval and post-medieval periods ... although not everything has changed!

March 2014

*Early break for Easter*

February 2014

This month we learnt lots from The Wilberforce Trust with a training session on Visual Impairment as part of our Tactile Mapping project. It was great to be based in The King's Manor ... onetime home of The Wilberforce School for the Blind and now the University of York, Department of Archaeology

And what did we learn? 

a) VI is 'uncorrectable' sight loss
b) that very few people with VIs are entirely blind
c) VI can be from birth and/or onset through life
d) VI can be in one or both eyes
e) VI can affect part or all of the field of vision

2. How can we support the needs of VISUALLY IMPAIRED PEOPLE
a) provide information in Bigger, Brighter, BOLDER formats
b) supply tactile sources of information
c) provide clear audio information
d) provide concise information to avoid stress on limited vision
e) employ contrasting colours to 'code' information

January 2014

*Christmas Break*

--- 2013 ---

December 2013

Merry Krampus one and all! 
In our Christmas session we learnt of an alternative festive tradition, that of the Krampus creature of Alpine folklore. We made suitably gruesome cards depicting the creature. Taking a 'darker' twist on Christmas we also played pass-the-parcel-plague-baby (a green jelly baby and you're out: you've got PLAGUE!) and weeping angel statues (thanks Dr. Who). We scoffed tasty fare, including, on a Germanic theme, a festive ginger bread house. There was also a spot of 'Call My Bluff' and even some story telling. 

November 2013

With that infamous son of York 'Guy Fawkes' in our thoughts this month we followed a trail around the City to develop our understanding of Catholic York. We started at the Bar Convent Museum where we discovered a church hidden from external view replete with a priest's hiding hole and learnt about the convent's foundress Mary Ward. We also discussed the religious artefacts on display and, in particular, how they might 'signal' belief, each choosing a display to talk about with the group. A favourite was the alter that could be hidden in plain sight as a bed head and the pedlar's disguise that could be donned by itinerant priests. We also learnt of the fate of Catholics under Protestant Tudor rule and we followed the story up by visiting the shrine of St.Margaret Clitherow on the Shambles. We discussed religious persecution and tolerance and linked in with our past session on Jewish York. We finished our trail with a visit to St. Wilfrid's Catholic Church built in 1864 following the Roman Catholic Relief Act of 1829 and re-establishment of Catholic Dioceses in 1850.

October 2013

This month we lent our support to the 'New YAC Dolls' relay team, who ran the York Marathon to raise funds for the national Young Archaeologists' Club. The team - which included our branch leader together with colleagues from the Council for British Archaeology - raised the fantastic sum of £2,350 and giving continues post-marathon:

A HUGE thank you to all for your encouragement and sponsorship!

September 2013
This session the group went on a Bulgarian archaeological odyssey. We developed understanding of this eastern European nation's heritage from early prehistory through to the current post-communist state, by way of the Chalcolithic, Thracian, and National Revival periods. We were especially interested in the early prehistoric pottery and crafted our own host of Chalcolithic creatures: watch out Antony Gormley!

It was a great opportunity to learn about another culture: past and present. We looked not only at 'tangible' but also 'intangible' heritage and reflected on our own, in terms of dress, dialect, food and other traditions.

August 2013

Another brill York YAC session in which we really looked at the unseen landscape of the familiar: pursuing a heritage trail around the city, replete with Romans and Vulcan flyover! We started at Dig! and worked our way through the streets and across time, taking in Roman, medieval and industrial York, ending at the Minster. Clues were all about us, on the very pavements we trod and inscribed on the buildings we past. Stories of people and past events were our companions for a very pleasant few hours of discovery! 

July 2013

We returned to York Cemetery this month, having last visited in June 2011; how time flies! Our focus in this session was on learning techniques of graveyard recording. We discussed the fascination of archaeologists with death and burial as well as the ethics and emotions involved. Armed with our CBA practical handbook on Recording and Analysing Graveyards, we drew, described, measured and mused upon a range of graves and funerary monuments from Victorian to more recent times. 

June 2013

In which York YAC go down t'mine ... This month we jumped on a coach and nipped down the M1 to Wakefield, where we spent a super day at the National Coal Mining Museum. Continuing our focus on industrial archaeology we donned safety helmets and lights and explored below ground. It was fascinating to learn, quite literally at the coal face, how mining changed over the past 200 years. Our knowledge was brought up to the 1980s, when the pit closed, and beyond, with a discussion of 'alternative' sources of energy.

May 2013


April 2013

From rubbish to drains ... ! In our April session we wound the clock forward to focus on Industrial Archaeology and ironwork in particular. York's streets are filled with a wealth of information about the city's post-medieval iron-working industry in the form of railings, grates and drain covers. These are the product of local foundries for which other archaeological or archival records are limited. This is a resource that we're in danger of losing as items are periodically replaced by the council or, as we frequently hear about in the news, stolen by metal thieves!

So, we put our keen observation skills to the test and took to the streets of York to record evidence of surviving iron 'street furniture' as part of a project developed by Rachel Cubbit of York Archaeological Trust. Makers' marks - location and legend - were recorded and photographed, building up a database of evidence for 'C.W. Kirk Iron & Brass Founder York' and for 'Adams Hydraulics Ltd of York & London'. Thanks Rachel for a brilliant session!

March 2013

Archaeology is rubbish (!), well often it is, so we looked at the history of refuse and recycling this month. We learnt that 'waste not want not' all kinds of materials have long been reused and recycled. Remarkably, even dust was a commodity in the past: collected and used, for example, in the production of bricks! We spoke about nineteenth and twentieth century rag & bone men as well as recycling during the Second World War. We followed this with a spot of 'Garbology' - looking at several 'assemblages' of modern rubbish and testing our deductive powers. We asked what can rubbish tell us about people and how can we avoid stereotyping? We discussed how different materials survive and thought about how what we throw away is biased. 

Just for fun, we finished off the session by making up rubbish assemblages for the Cluedo characters and played 'guess who?' 

February 2013

This month we learnt about the practice and ethics of osteoarchaeology - aka the study of human bones in archaeology. We started with a look at the excavation of skeletons and discussed some of the reasons why we might wish to study the remains of past peoples. We followed this up with a 'naming of parts' using a teaching skeleton; in small groups we matched names to the major bones and completed individual worksheets to take home.  Our resident expert showed us how specialists can tell how old an individual was, if they were male or female, and how 'healthy' they had been during life. We learnt how to estimate the height of an individual from their long bones and tested it on ourselves, measuring head to toe and finger tip to finger tip.

Before looking at a collection of excavated skeletons we discussed whether we should study human remains, what we thought about skeletons being 'on display' and stored away in museums, together with issues of reburial. We then looked at two collections held by our hosts, the Yorkshire Museum, from the Roman and Medieval periods; it was particularly interesting to see the 'pathologies' and read from the bones how hard life had been for these individuals. Topically, we finished with a discussion about the excavation of 'Richard III' at Leicester and the factors that indicate why it may (or may not) in fact be him. 

 January 2013

*Christmas Break*

--- 2012 ---

December 2012

We hope that everyone enjoyed our Christmas Quiz at which we tackled the superstition surrounding 2013 - will it be ominous or auspicious?! What of the end of the Mayan calendar? What's the origin and history of 'Triskaidekaphobia' (the fear of the number 13). We learnt about charms from the past and other cultures and we even created our own charms for good luck and to ward off bad luck. We followed this with a festive scoff of tasty food, played 'Call my Bluff' and had a round of competitive mummy-wrapping! 

A big thank you to our hosts, the Yorkshire Museum, and we look forward to seeing you all in 2013 for more adventures with the Young Archaeologists' Club in and around York. 

November 2012

Our session on Archaeological 'show & tell' started with a look at the recent BBC radio series A History of the World in 100 Objects. The whole series is available online together with details of all 100 objects, so do take a look if you haven't already! We focused on things and the stories we can tell about people in the past; after all, it's the people not the pots (for example) that we're really interest in. We learnt about early collectors and the establishment of some superb Museums - the Ashmolean in Oxford, the British Museum, the Soane's Museum in London, and the Yorkshire Museum. We spoke about collecting, provenancing and classifying things - from our own stamp, coin and sugar packet (!) collections through to coins and metal hoards uncovered by metal detectorists. We learnt about the Portable Antiquities Scheme and hope to follow this up with a session with the Finds Liasion Officer at the Yorkshire Museum next year. Thanks to Lucy and her Dad for bringing in their coin collection - it was fascinating to learn what a penny could buy at various stages through time! We then set about recording and displaying our objects, creating our very own  'cabinet of curiosities'

A big thank you to York Archaeological Trust for kindly providing a loan box of archaeological goodies for us to discuss and add to our temporary museum!

October 2012

 This month we celebrated the 40th birthday of the national Young Archaeologists' Club ... with lots of cake! We had a stall at the annual York Archaeology and History fair, run by York Archaeological Trust and held at the Guildhall. Candles were lit, *Happy Birthday* sung and quantities of cake consumed. Fantastic! 

We followed this up with a crafting session where we learnt about weaving and pot making, two very important skills for the first farmers of the Neolithic period. We made clay coil and thumb pots and decorated them with seeds and other plant material, just as our ancestors did. We also wove a sample of fabric using a simple card loom with beautiful results. 

September 2012

We returned once again to the Roman site at Broughton where we've been digging for a number of years now. We got stuck in to the practical side of archaeology, developing our excavation and recording skills. The weather was with us and we had a splendid day. We're looking forward to returning next year! 

August 2012 

In August the focus was on the Cold War when we visited the English Heritage Cold War Bunker in Acomb. A family session we were joined by mums, dads and grandparents. Alex, our resident expert, introduced us to what the Cold War was as well as training us in a spot of aircraft recognition. Although we didn't quite earn our gold stars (which took the chaps of the Royal Observer Corps some 25 years to achieve) we didn't do too badly in identifying friendly from foe  aircraft. Having learnt that the Cold War era was a frightening time we were able to appreciate how lucky we are today. Symbolic of this were the pieces of the former Berlin Wall that one of the Dad's kindly brought to pass around. 

July 2012

A session in two halves. First we visited the King's Manor where postgraduate researchers Pat Hadley and Emily Hellewell introduced us to the Mesolithic. MesoWHAT? Hunter-gathers: how long ago was that? Well, we saw exactly HOW LONG AGO when we constructed a ribbon timeline from today all the way back to the Mesolithic. What fun - thanks Pat and Emily! In the second part of our session we wound the clocks forward dramatically in a walking tour of Bootham that took in aspects of the built environment from the Roman period through to today. How two hours fly!

June 2012

Holgate Windmill ahoy! What a terrific session we had this month with our visit to the newly restored windmill in York. The inner workings were fascinating to explore and we learnt all about the process that saw grain turned to flour.  We saw how wind, steam and electric power had all been used at this site over the course of its long history from the eighteenth century through to the 1930s. We're very grateful to the members of the Holgate Windmill Preservation Society who kindly showed us around and shared their expertise. We finished by relating what we'd learnt to the present day by discussing modern sources of energy, including windfarms, and their impact on the environment. 

May 2012

This month we tackled some tough questions concerning history. Should we learn about horrible things that happened in the past? Yes, absolutely, so that mistakes aren't repeated! We started our session at Jewsbury and followed part of the York Jewish History Trail. We learnt about the excavation during the 1980s of the medieval Jewish Cemetery at the site of the modern-day supermarket, as well as a little about the massacre at Clifford's Tower. Then we visited the Richard III Museum and saw how history is written by the victors and discussed the problem of biased evidence.  

April 2012

*Easter break*

March 2012

What an adventure! This month we were in search of evidence of the Roman road through Acomb (or, more specifically, through Ian's allotment). We had a range of prospection tools to hand that comprised Ground Penetrating Survey (GPS), resistivity survey and, not least of all, good old fashioned excavation! We didn't find proof positive for the road but we learnt a lot about the range of techniques that archaeologists can employ and found a rather pretty bone domino piece. 

February 2012

Well, despite the snow we were in the City visiting the Conservation Labs of York Archaeological Trust. We were very lucky to have a 'behind the scenes' tour of the labs with Principal Conservator Ian Panter, who showed us a range of materials that had been excavated from below ground and from beneath the sea! This included First World War rifles from France and medieval canons recovered from sunken ships. From closer to home we also had a privileged view of jet artefacts from YAT's dig at Hungate in York.  

January 2012
Welcome to 2012 already! We saw the New Year in in style with a fantastic session on the Ancient Egyptians based at the Yorkshire Museum. We had a terrific handling session that allowed us to touch a selection of real artefacts, including scarab beetle amulets and Canopic jars. We learnt about mummification and even had a go ourselves (on an apple, not on each another!).  We also made paper out of real papyrus reeds all the way from modern Egypt, as well as writing our names and secret messages in hieroglyphics. We also gathered up all your entries to our YYAC logo competition. What a lot of great ideas you've come up with - judging will be a very difficult task! We'll let you all know next month when we unveil the new logo and give out the prizes. See you then!
--- 2011 ---

December 2011
Well, we had a very jolly time at our Christmas quiz held at the Yorkshire Museum, with mummy wrapping, call-my-bluff, guess the leaders' teddy, archaeological hang-man and a name-that-site round. As well as tasty Christmas nibbles to boot!
We hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and we look forward to seeing you in the New Year.
November 2011

What a super time we had at Leeds Armouries when we visited on our annual trip. Last year we visited Hull Museum, where we focused on Roman and Medieval archaeology with a pottery handling session. This year we learnt all about armoury through the ages, not only worn by warriors, but by their horses and even elephants! Plus we had a very interesting handling session, in which we had the opportunity to get to grips (literally) with gauntlets,  helmets and chain armour.

Ideas for next year are always welcome. Where would you like to visit?

October 2011
Our session on hunter-gatherer wildfood foraging at St. Nicholas Field's Nature Reserve was much fun. We learnt how to identify a range of fruits, berries and trees and discussed how different food would have been preserved in the past. Although we didn't eat anything we picked, we did have some yummy natural snacks at tea-break, including dried fruit and liquorice root. I think we may have  learnt also the natural source of itching powder... but I much prefer rose hips as a sweet syrup ;)
September 2011

We had a super time digging out at the Roman site at Broughton and we're looking forward to returning next year! We processed all sorts of finds recovered from the site and discussed what the range of pottery, animal bone and metal waste indicated about past occupation: a farmstead with a little metal-working is what we're currently thinking. Most exciting, perhaps, was the opportunity to get stuck in and excavate features and finds. Discoveries were made and these included a flint implement that suggests that pre-Roman activity at the site is yet to be uncovered: how exciting!

See you same place same time next year to find out more.

August 2011

We hope you enjoyed the **summer break** and are looking forward to another exciting year of activities with York YAC.

July 2011
In July we had a fascinating behind the scenes tour of the National Railway Museum, here in York.
We had a practical demonstration of how steam locomotives work, completed a trail around the higeldy-pigeldy collection of the open stores, and learnt how conservators work on carriage restoration. And all in just 2 hours!

June 2011

York Cemetery is a terrifically interesting place, full of lots of interesting information on our ancestors and the history of the City. It's also something of a nature reserve and we spent an enjoyable few hours on our walking tour of the grounds.

May 2011

Conservation techniques at the Yorkshire Museum

April 2011

Come fly with me: aerial archaeology at the Yorkshire Museum

February 2011

Historic clothing & crafting at the Yorkshire Museum

January 2011

An introduction to pottery at the Yorkshire Museum