Banburyshire school children get unique history lesson with Time Team on the site of the Roman Villa near Broughton Castle

Children of a Banburyshire primary school have had the unique experience of a history class on the site of a Roman villa being excavated by Time Team.

By Roseanne Edwards
Monday, 27th September 2021, 4:08 pm

The year five pupils from Bishop Carpenter CE Primary School, which covers Broughton and North Newington, did not have far to go to reach the Roman Villa site which is on their doorstep on the Broughton Castle estate.

The villa excavation has been chosen as the legacy project for the iconic Time Team programme, once a Channel 4 production but now funded by crowd-funding on the Patreon site. The Banbury Guardian's report about the weekend's dig can be seen here.

The children are used to living near the historic Broughton Castle but realising there were the remains of a huge and stupendous Roman villa, set in stunning surroundings, has been a completely new education for them.

Time Team's expert landscape archeologist, Stewart Ainsworth, explains to Bishop Carpenter Primary School pupils the process of finding the ruins of the Roman villa and how artefacts are collected

They were given a tour of the site, shown the extraordinary sarcophagus (where the remains of a third century Roman woman are buried) whose discovery in 1963 eventually led to the villa being detected, and given information about the finds that the general public will not be told about until Time Team releases its first public video of the dig after Christmas.

Thousands of Patreon subscribers, who have funded the return of Time Team have been seeing exclusive coverage on that web page.

The children's tour with Time Team's legendary landscape archeologist, Stewart Ainsworth, started at the sarcophagus where they were asked if they could imagine what it was; their answers included a coffin to a coffee table and even a bathtub.

Head teacher Nichola Stevenson said: "The whole Time Team programme that we've had from Friday to today has really brought archeology to life for our children - and our year five pupils have been engrossed in finding out more from Stewart on his fantastic tour. It's given them meaning to using their imagination about what a Roman villa would look like, and with the pictures Stewart gave it really brought it to life.

Pupils try out their own examination and description of tesserae, or mosaics, from the Roman villa site with one of Time Team's small finds experts, Danni Wootton

"I don't think they could really envisage it when we talked about it but when Stewart walked them around the actual ground and walked the big square and they could see the corners of the buildings and the floors and he described the kind of landscapes that would have been created by the Romans I think in their heads they can now completely visualise it.

"That was the start of the journey for them today as from that point they could start to build up what the visual image would be, and they could start to make the correlation between the burial site and walking towards the villa, they could look back and see the burial site from the villa itself. It was really brilliant."

The children's involvement in the Roman villa started in earnest on Friday when Time Team's education liaison expert, Penny Lock, visited the school and gave a presentation about archeologists and what they do; what the different types of archeology are and how to do 'finds'.

"In the afternoon she brought some boxes of artefacts which had been covered over in soil and hidden, so the children could be archeologists and, using the tools and techniques that she had taught them, found different things such as pieces of mosaic. They loved it," said Mrs Stevenson.

Time Team founder and producer Tim Taylor (back row, wearing hat) joins the Bishop Carpenter children and teachers in a huge cheer for the project

The children will present an assembly for the whole school on Friday, using some of the artefacts they were allowed to take back to school from the site.