Laois Home Education

Interview with Mark Kelly from the School of Irish Archaeology

Hi Mark, tell us a little about what you are up to with the Laois Home Education every Thursday?

“Well, The School of Irish Archaeology is very excited to discuss our new Laois Home Education Heritage Project. We are doing a series of day long workshops weekly, every Thursday with the children from Laois Home Education.”  

Sounds great, what’s the overall purpose of this project?

“The purpose of this project is to bring the Viking world to life for the children, for them to learn about ancient crafts and technologies. We want the children to know how to create, make tools, clothes, utensils from experts in their field. There are a great group of kids taking part in this project. The main bulk of the project is to reconstruct a Type 1 Viking house. This is the type of house most people probably would be familiar with from the Wood Quay excavations, the houses that were found and excavated in the late 1970s and 80s in Dublin.”

“We’re going to reconstruct and build a Viking House, using natural materials, by coppicing, gathering and collecting these from the natural habitat and their local environment. We’re going to have to go out physically with the kids and their parents, and cut and coppice the raw materials. The children will be in their natural environment and they will learn how difficult it to carry out these task, but they will also experience how exciting and rewarding it is to build your own house using all the materials mother nature has to offer.”

“The children will learn all about the types of natural resources that the land would have provided for the Vikings. Learn all about the types of tools they used for construction, as well as the architecture. We are bringing the Viking world, their history and archaeology directly to the kids, letting them actually live it every Thursday, and we think that is pretty great!”

Amazing, will there be other activities besides the Viking House Build?

“Absolutely. As well as the primary activity, building the Viking House, there will also be loads of different types of cool and exciting workshops the likes of Bow & Arrow making (and using!). The kids are going to make leather shoes and shields for themselves. We’re also gonna have a specialist thatcher come down and show us how to thatch the roof, to learn those ancient techniques. To compliment this we will learn about the different types of foods that were available in the Viking period too.”

“We’re going to plant lazy beds, grow crops that would have been associated with the Viking period. And we’re actually going to use some of those crops that we grow and eat them from our very own cob oven which will also be built on-site, and in the end to finish the project, we’re going to celebrate by having our very own  Viking Fair day and feast. “

“Other weekly workshops will have specialist guests from the Heritage in Schools Scheme, who will come in and teach about textiles and weaving. We’re going to have wattle and daub workshops and hopefully the masterful craftsman Eoin Donnelly who built the reconstructions at Ferrycarrig in Wexford, the Viking House in the Botanical Gardens and at Harold’s Cross NS will visit and give us lots of useful tips and encouragement.”

A Viking Fair, wow! A thatcher is indeed very cool. What happens when this is all finished? Do you dismantle the house? Or?

“These materials that we’re going to create and make over the course of the project, well, we’ll kit them out in the kid’s Viking House. And this Viking house then will be used as an educational resource, a heritage hub, or educational space for the homeschool network.”

Sounds like a very active project. Is it just the School of Irish Archaeology involved?

“No no, we would not do it without the support of the parents and of course the kids. But most of all we would like to thank Catherine Casey, Laois County Council Heritage Officer, indeed the whole council, as well  the Heritage Council. We would not be able to do this without their help and we are very grateful.” 

If you would like to discuss this project for your own school, or education program please get in touch here – info@sia.i

Share this post