West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village and Museum Education Skills Sharing Session
Join West Stow in a Q&A Education Skills Sharing Session on Twitter from 15:00-17:00 on Thursday, 25th June
West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village and Museum is a reconstructed early Anglo-Saxon settlement built upon the original site alongside a museum displaying Anglo-Saxon artefacts from the excavation and from other contemporary sites nearby and an Archaeology Gallery displaying artefacts from the region from prehistoric to the end of the Roman period.
The site predominantly tells the story of every-day life and death from the early 5th to the end of the 7th centuries. Visitors can enter and explore the majority of the reconstructed buildings which include a hall, houses, a forge and covered bread oven, as well as explore experimental crop plots.
In 2017 the Anglo-Saxon museum was refurbished through an Arts Council grant. Artefacts were redisplayed and reinterpreted and a focus was given to making the museum more ‘interactive’ with hands-on activities and a touch screen interactive display. This was replicated in the village with opportunities for self-directed ‘have-a-go’ activities. We have therefore focused upon offering a more ‘hands-on’ experience through physical engagement with objects and activities.
West Stow Learning Offer
The majority of West Stow’s education visitors are Key Stage 2 groups and for the year ending March 2020 we hosted over fourteen thousand school visitors.
Before the lockdown we accommodated up to 120 pupils per day, dividing this number into two groups of 60 pupils who alternate between visiting the reconstructed village and museum. One member of staff overseas these visits, often assisted by another member of staff giving demonstrations in the village. On occasion we are lucky enough to have a volunteer reenactor occupy one of the buildings, giving craft demonstrations.
The school visit is based upon the pupil as historian, actively investigating the clues to Anglo-Saxon daily life. Pupils are encouraged to ‘talk’ to artefacts, formulate their own questions and explore potential answers.
Our winter programme caters for only 60 pupils each day which enables us to offer an additional educational experience of either ‘Tales in the Hall’ (the story of Beowulf told by a costumed story-teller in the reconstructed Hall) or our ‘Creative Curator’ experience in which pupils create their own interpretive table top museums using replica objects.
Events and School Holidays
West Stow often play host to re-enactment groups, enabling visitors to explore the buildings while they are inhabited and engage with reenactors as they display crafts, cooking and reconstructed costume and artefacts. We also host a series of events throughout the year, including the very popular Dragon Fest – a weekend of all things Dragon through hands on activities and crafts, puppet theatre …. and dragons! We also offer weekly hands on free family activities during the summer holidays that include pot making, weaving and den building, alongside a variety of trails.
The museum is set in a 125-acre country park in which visitors can explore walks and trails through woodland, along the river and around the lake. This is the setting for the Beowulf and Grendel Trail which tells the Beowulf story through a series of sculptures, including the beautiful Heath Dragon.
As museums prepare to reopen, our Education Skills Sharing Session will explore the following topics:
- What innovations and strategies can be used to adapt a physically interactive learning experience for schools and the general public into a Covid-secure one?
- How can we incorporate digital support without endangering physical visits?
- How can we embark on a digital collections’ engagement programme without the associated cost?