Pupils at St Michael’s Middle School in Colehill enjoyed assembly with a prehistoric twist on 9 March, courtesy of the new Wimborne History Festival.
It might have been the tales of bodies and bones, or perhaps the replica weapons, but the school’s 510 pupils listened enthralled as eminent archaeologist Julian Richards’ presentation brought the Bronze Age to life.
A team of children from St Michael’s ‘Forest School’ will be working with Mr Richards and volunteers from East Dorset Antiquarian Society (EDAS) and FOAM (Friends of Ancient Monuments) to clear scrub and vegetation from a Bronze Age Bell Barrow in the school grounds, enabling it to be viewed from the school buildings.
Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Wimborne BID and East Dorset District, Wimborne Town and Colehill Parish Councils, this project is the first of many to get underway as part of the new Wimborne History Festival, which culminates in a thrilling two days of events in and around Wimborne on 16 and 17 July.
Julian Richards, presenter of BBC’s ‘Meet the Ancestors’ is delighted to be involved with the project at St Michael’s, he noted, “There can’t be many schools that have over 3,500 years of history standing next to their playing fields. This is a great opportunity for pupils to help preserve their Bronze Age burial mound and to bring them face to face with the prehistoric past.
“We’re going to transform an overgrown scrub covered mound into something that the school can be proud of, a piece of prehistory, their very own Bronze Age burial site.”
Intriguing Bronze Age finds from the Priest’s House Museum collection in Wimborne will be used to show the children what might be found inside the barrow. With these insights the pupils will then work with Horrible Histories illustrator Martin Brown to design a unique interpretation panel giving future schoolchildren and visitors a better understanding of the barrow and its purpose.
The school’s Eco Club, with expert advice and assistance from local horticulturalist Jennifer Trehane, will be planting flowers appropriate to the period around the barrow and in the school grounds.
Work on the barrow is being undertaken with the kind permission of Historic England and Inspector of Ancient Monuments Keith Miller was present at the assembly on 9 March, together with Colehill Councillors Peter Scriven and K D Johnson, to launch the project and see what it means to the school.
St Michael’s Headteacher Ron Jenkinson believes “it is really important for young people to understand the heritage of the area they live in and it just so happens that here at St Michael’s we have physical evidence of that heritage going back 3,500 years! I am so grateful to the Wimborne History Festival for making it possible to restore this amazing piece of history to a more prominent presence in our school and enabling us to have the renowned Julian Richards work with our young people.”