Young Archaeologists’ Club

The Young Archaeologists’ Club (YAC) is the only UK-wide club where 8-16 year olds can participate in real archaeology and discover why it matters. If you want to become a professional archaeologist in the future or just feel like taking up an amazing new hobby, YAC is the right place for you!

Last summer The Sill became host to a new branch of the Young Archaeologists Club for budding archaeologists of Northumberland National Park and we are looking forward to YAC hosting sessions later in the year.

As part of our #OutdoorsIndoors campaign we hear from Cheviot Hills Heritage Project Officer Rosie Thompson will tell you more about the YAC, what it means to her and what we have planned in the coming weeks for you at home.

Rosie Thompson Updating records on roman toilet instrumentsEver since a young age, I have loved the historical landscape immediately on my doorstep. Growing up in a small Northumbrian village just 3 miles from Hadrian’s Wall instilled a sense of pride and stewardship within me. I have always lived on the National Park’s border, and I still find it amazing that in one day at work I can see Prehistoric rock art, Iron Age hillforts, a Roman frontier, an Anglo Saxon palace, and medieval strongholds. (Thanks here to our Ranger Services Manager, who always delivers a fabulous induction day to our staff).

I can remember my A Level Philosophy teacher explaining the concept of a numinous experience to me. It derives from the Latin word numen, meaning “arousing spiritual or religious emotion; mysterious or awe-inspiring”, similar to the feeling a Christian may experience when entering a Church. To me, this is how I feel when I visit an ancient monument or historical site, and describes perfectly the immediate sense of connection I can feel with the past.

This has always been the case for me, and I was incredibly fortunate to be encouraged to develop this passion by my family and teachers, which led me to joining The Young Archaeologist’s Club at age 13. At the age of 28, I still keep my original members card in my purse, which conjures happy memories of free visits to castles with my parents during school holidays and the excitement of the YAC magazine arriving in the post.

Rosie and a volunteer on an historic site in the National Park

Currently, I am employed as a project officer focussing on archaeology and heritage. I studied Museum Conservation at university, and have volunteered in the sector from a young age, focussing on many things from Roman ceramics to the social history of the borders.

I am at the stage in my life, where I have had to write various applications in order to secure work experience, university places, volunteer posts and of course, the first steps into my chosen career. Something I have mentioned on all of these is the fact I received a Highly Commended award in YAC’s Young Archaeologist of the Year. The framed certificate sits proudly on my desk, and I have the magazine cutting buried in a scrapbook – it is better that the photo of me in my early teens stays buried and not on show!

If you are a young adult with the aspirations to work in history, or perhaps the parent of a budding archaeologist, I would strongly recommend joining your local young archaeologist club in the future. It is a fantastic opportunity to develop new skills, learn more about heritage and meet friends with similar interests. You can find out more about our own club at : https://www.yac-uk.org/clubs/the-sill-yac

Rosie Thompson conducting the Hadrian's Wall Annual Deep Clean of Artefacts

Because we have had to postpone this seasons YAC sessions, and because I have been working from home and missing visits to our monuments across the national park, I spent some time considering how we can still love our historic landscape from the safety of our gardens and living rooms. This was when I decided I would use my box of craft and art materials to recreate the different types of settlements which would have been found within the park, as well as a number of my favourite national park sites. As we bring the outdoors indoors, I will be posting step by step guides online to help our potential future YAC members make their own creations, and would love to see your finished pieces.

Tune in this Thursday to learn how to make a model of an iron age roundhouse, the first settlement of Northumberland National Park that we shall recreate!