Larkrise letters, asking questions

31 Jul

opening letters (6)

Anwen Cooper and Miranda Creswell have just finished a project at Larkrise Primary School in Oxford. An inspiring time for both the EnglaID team and two classes of Year 3 pupils and their supportive teachers : Miss Edris and Mrs Micallef.

The simple idea was to write a letter directly to an archaeologist working at University of Oxford, with a question, and get a personal reply back.


The background to the letters,  was a series of workshops led by Anwen and Miranda, where a comparison was made between the river valleys of the Nile and the Thames in the mid 2nd Millennium BC , with ideas on how to look and draw  landscape ( that covers objects and human traces that have been excavated ). Then came the questions and letter writing and drawing on the backs of the envelopes . What is it about the envelope that brings out such good ideas and questions ?IMG_6970






( Dear Chris, did they make mince pies in the Bronze Age ? Oliver )

The school seems to be transposed onto the table of the Institute of Archaeology Common Room through these modest pieces of paper , similarly the Institute arrived in the hands of the pupils at Larkrise School by way of the personalised answer to each question.

opening letters (1)

Here are some of the replies :



and one with a drawing of a viking ship by Letty Ten Harkel


A very difficult question : where do you get your ideas from ?, which was left to Chris Gosden .


IMG_7015IMG_7014 IMG_7020


The researchers spent a great deal of  time reading and  answering the questions .


Some interesting outcomes have been that ,because of the handwritten nature of the replies, some pupils who find reading more difficult , took greater care and crucially, longer, to read,( almost double the time , according to their teacher) and then found  the reading experience surprisingly successful ; also archaeology  was being talked about until the end of term, ideas had stuck through the letters. The researchers at EnglaID are, for their part, still thinking about some of the questions : mince pies, rivers, ideas.. Anwen and Miranda have been asked to continue this methodology next year at the same school.

A great many thanks for all the support of the teachers at Larkrise School, and to all the researchers for answering the questions, and for the pupils of  Eagle and Flamingo class, for sending such delicate and beautiful letters through the post.



One Response to “Larkrise letters, asking questions”

  1. Stuart Gould July 31, 2014 at 10:04 pm #

    What a lovely idea to get the children to engage, improve their communication skills and think bout archaeology. Well done.

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