Hadrian's Wall can teach you a thing or two, North East pupils are being told.
A new schools’ learning resource for the monument, developed as part of the Wall Face project, is now available online.
Work on the project began last year alongside the Wall Face exhibition, which spanned 11 Roman attractions along the world heritage site.
The exhibition featured images from the National Portrait Gallery of pioneering archaeologists and antiquarians who recorded, protected and revealed the stories of the Hadrian’s Wall frontier.
The venues were Senhouse Roman Museum in Maryport, Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle, Birdoswald Roman Fort at Gilsland, the Roman Army Museum at Greenhead, Vindolanda, Housesteads and Chesters forts, Corbridge Roman Town, the Great North Museum in Newcastle, Segedunum fort in Wallsend and Arbeia fort in South Shields.
The £124,000 Wall Face project was organised jointly through a partnership of heritage organisations across the Wall - Vindolanda Trust, English Heritage, National Trust, Senhouse Museum Trust, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery Trust and the Hadrian’s Wall Trust.
It was funded through Arts Council England’s Renaissance strategic support programme.
Wall Face education consultant Yvonne Conchie said: “There are so many learning opportunities for all ages which can be based around Hadrian’s Wall.
“Romans are the usual subject studied on Hadrian’s Wall by schools, but we want to encourage teachers to remember that learning right across the curriculum and age ranges can be illuminated by Hadrian’s Wall world heritage site.”
The learning project has been working with Haydon Bridge High School in Northumberland, which holds a Gold Arts Mark plaque – the highest award a school can earn from the Arts Council – on developing and testing the scheme.
“Children are encouraged to consider their own identity and legacy by studying the people in the National Portrait Gallery Wall Face images and how they influenced our heritage and demonstrated the need for conservation,” said Yvonne.
The resource is designed to be used in the classroom and encourages visits to the Roman sites. It can be adapted to suit different age ranges.
Topics look at understanding the meanings and legacies people have sought to convey through choosing what to include in their portraits.
This uses images of the archaeologists and antiquarians featured in the Wall Face exhibition and Roman objects such as clay and stone sculptures, paintings, tombstones and coins.
Topics pupils also evaluate include the work of modern, and historic artists, and to help them create modern-day portraits of their own.
Anna Coulson, creativity lead teacher at Haydon Bridge High School, said: “It’s fabulous to have a funded project that gives our students opportunities and experiences that they would not normally have.”
The project has involved three artists working with the school.
Isla Jones, an award winning young photographer and current pupil at the school, is teaching digital portraiture techniques.
Ruby Dale is an emerging artist and former pupil of Haydon Bridge High School, who is to study fine art at Sunderland University.
She has taught the children pen and ink portraiture techniques and helped them explore themes around contemporary frontiers inspired by their visits.
Sculptor Ashley Hipkin said: “We learn a lot about ancient civilisations through the objects that have persevered through time, and how Roman people interacted with the materials in the world around them.
“It’s an exciting way for students to learn about a culture. Making objects is an important part of any society.
“It’s important that children learn to use their hands, making things with clay and plaster – which in turn connects them back with what the Romans were doing.”
Haltwhistle Film Project has documented the school’s visits to Roman sites, artist teaching and the resulting creativity work in school. Film maker Vicky Jones said: “I like the concept of Hadrian’s Wall as a whole. It’s not just about the Romans.
“For some of the students I’ve interviewed, the most interesting element was the contemporary resonance of empires, conflict and frontiers. It’s made them think about boundaries through time, and compare the impact of Hadrian’s Wall on the UK with the Berlin Wall and Gaza, for example.”
The work with Haydon Bridge High School is serving as a case study to show how the Wall Face resource can be used and features on the Arts Award website.
Nigel Mills, Wall Face programme manager said: “We are delighted that Wall Face has been a catalyst for generating high quality education resources that extend the scope of education opportunities for the world heritage site across the whole curriculum and all age ranges.”
The Wall Face learning resource is at www.visithadrianswall.co.uk/learning
The Wall Face exhibition was the first exhibition organised jointly by the partnership of heritage organisations across Hadrian’s Wall.
The partnership now includes Northumberland National Park Authority and is planning a major Wall-wide exhibition for 2017, called Hadrian’s Cavalry, with funding from Arts Council England’s museum resilience fund.