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Schools projects: Children’s accounts of the experience from Port Charlotte Primary School

Giant’s grave, by Tilly | 31.8.16

On Monday the 29th of August 2016 me and my class of p4,5, 6 and 7 went to the Giant’s Grave. We came into school and did the register then the p7s and the p6 boys came on the first bus. I sat next to Fiona and Tom on the bus. It took about 5 minutes to get there and then a further 15 minutes for the p6 girls and the p5s and 4s to come on the next bus.

When everyone was finally here it was time to start walking. We started walking and past Dolan’s house and saw Morse the hoarse. Then we saw Seamus’s dad who went to make sure that the cows were ok. We walked with Mrs Mitten for about 20 minutes then we took a break and we ended up at the front of the line. I talked to Grace for a bit about the Hunger Games.

About an hour later we arrived and raced to a tent full of chairs and had a snack. I had carrots sticks and mackerel pate it was yummy. Then Steve told us about the Giant’s Grave and that it used to have lots of rubble on the top of it and that is why it collapsed.

Then we were told that we would get a chance to be an archaeologist for a bit. I was with Tom and Shay and we started with drawing.

Archaeologists draw for evidence and measurements. I drew first and Tom and Shay used the tape measure. Then Shay drew and we took over the tape measure. Then it was Tom’s turn.

While we were drawing Fiona, Katie and Hannah were doing photography with Sara. Archaeologists take photos for films, documentaries and movies. Sara had a tripod for taking over head shots. The camera cost £15,000!

Katie, Melody and Catriona were doing geophysics the machine was shaped like an H and it detected the magnetic field of the rock so they didn’t have to dig everything up. Every meter the machine beeped.

Kaylagh and Aleesha were on model making with Bunny. They had to imagine what the burial ground would look like. Archaeologists make models to show what they have found.

Everyone else was digging. They had to use a special tool called a trowel. We had to dig carefully because the rocks where very crumbly. One of the archaeologists was called Hazel. When you dig you are looking for tools that the Neolithic people may have used.

After that we all swapped over and I, Tom and Shay moved over to digging with Hazel. We learnt about the different thing Hazel had to do in university.

After lunch we started walking back and it was all downhill. We were about half way and I stepped in a in a muddy patch and I left my welly behind and almost put my sock in the mud! We stopped and had a break. Then about an hour later we ended up with about five beetles.

We finally got to school comical from tiredness. The moment I got home I got into a hot bath and then bed.

Giant’s Grave, by Tom | 31.8.16

The big climb was exhausting. But the climb was also beautiful because we had to walk through streams that were really deep and I bet that it was really cold if I had let it in my welly boot! We also had to walk through the forest it was so tiring and it didn’t help that it was a really warm day it’s just my luck that it’s a scorching hot day when I want a nice cool breeze but I’m sure that Heather was cool because she kept on falling into ditches and muddy puddles so I guess the walk wasn’t all bad. But I’m sure that everyone was relieved when we got to the place we were going to… the Giant’s Grave!

We wanted to go to the archaeologists dig on Monday the 29th of august. I was overjoyed to see an archaeologist because I want to be one of them when I’m older. I was amazed by what they use to map the rocks. They used two measuring tapes to do a really important job! I would love to be an archaeologist but I would hate to be the one paying for the archaeologist’s equipment because one of their cameras costs 15,000 pounds I’m surprised that they let us hold the camera I know I wouldn’t trust us. I have always wanted to be an archaeologist but now I don’t know if I want to be one because there is so much drawing.

The digging was really difficult and tiring. But it was still really fun and I also got a piece of quartz from Hazel and it was so sparkly and I also found a rock with quartz in it by troweling. The tools that we used were trowels and the tools that they use are trowels, brushes, pickaxes, sponges and spades they used the sponges for draining the water from the dig site after the rain or if they dig into a small pocket of water. And they used the trowel for scraping all the dirt away from the rocks so that they can see the rock underneath. They use the pickaxe to hit the rocks away from the ground. And they used the spade to dig up all of the dirt that was in the way of the rocks and sometimes even charcoal and they usually find rocks among the dirt and someone is standing up the top sorting the things into buckets. Below the normal soil the soil starts to change to a different colour one minute you could be digging up yellow soil. The different soil colours are different layers of the ground.

Lots of people wanted to do the geophysics. The first people that did geophysics were Katie MacKay, Melody and Catriona. And then Heather and Grace were doing geophysics and they used a machine that told you what was under the ground by measuring the magnetic field of rocks underground the geophysics machine was big and square and it is put on to bag straps to help you carry it . Sadly I didn’t get to try the geophysics but I got told about it by people that did do it and according to them it was really fun.

I really wanted to build a model of the cairn. Lots of groups got to build what they thought was the cairn before all the stones fell down and they also used the evidence that the archaeologists found before and they looked at the stones now and through that they determined how it looked like originally. I would have loved to be one of the groups that did that activity but sadly I didn’t get to.

Climbing down the hill was fun. Climbing down the hill was less tiring but it was still really tiring everyone was looking at grace’s beetle that shay and I found and we named it sir beetle the first. While we were going down the hill Tilly lost her welly boot in some mud! When we were climbing down a steep hill graces beetle fell off her arm but when we were on our way out of the forest I looked down and I saw a beetle and gave it to grace and guess what she called it yes it was… Sir Beetle the Second! But when were out of the forest Grace had to put her beetle away in the woods. Then we were out of the woods and while p4/5 and p6 girls we were all exploring the graveyard and I sat on the most comfortable bench that I have ever seen but we were all overjoyed when the school bus came.

Period: Prehistoric, Historic, Medieval

Islay Heritage icons

Location: Islay

Project status: Active

Category: Education

Schools projects: Children’s letters from Keills Primary School

Dear Professor Mithen and team,
Thank you for helping me learn more about archaeology. Thank you to you and your team for giving up your time and letting us help with the dig. I am looking forward to seeing a model
Yours sincerely,
Amy McMillan

Dear Professor Mithen,
Thank you for taking time off to show us around the Giant’s Grave. I had so much fun. I loved digging with the trowels. Fergus was my partner. We were using sponges to soak up the water. We then put the water in a bucket. I could see the geophysicist but I did not get to do that. I would have liked to of done that.
Yours sincerely,
Brett Wilson

Dear Professor Mithen and team,
Thank you so much for taking us up the hill to the dig. It was really fun going up and stomping in the mud. When I saw the site I thought it looked really interesting especially when I saw the giant stones.
When you started telling us about what it was and what it was used for I found it really interesting because I had never seen anything like it before or new a lot about it.
When I went to do the digging I was so excited especially when I knew my hands were going to get all mucky. It was so fun. I wish I could do it every day of my life!
When I went to help the photographer with my partner Eilidh I found out how much fun being a photographer is. It was also fun when Eilidh and I had to interview each other. I loved zooming in and out with the camera.
I enjoyed looking at the quartz tools and the whisky bottle! I thought it really funny that you had found the whisky bottle.
The best thing that I learned was the information and facts you gave us about the Giant’s Grave.
I was really sad when we had to go but happy because I had a brilliant day. Thank you for everything.
Yours sincerely,
Catherine Thom

Dear Professor Mithen,
Thank you and your team for letting P5-7 experience an excavation in progress! I am really thankful to you for giving up your time to take us to the Giant’s Grave. The walk was quite an adventure. I never thought that we would go into the woods.
The best thing about the trip was working with real archaeologists. It was really interesting learning about the tools that were being used. I thought there would have been more technology (apart from the geophysics).
It was really muddy when I went into the chambers. It was interesting how Mike got the mud out of the chambers. I never thought that there would be an artist there! I was quite surprised at what you found at the excavation especially the whisky bottle.
Over all I had a great experience and I’d love to go again. I would like to thank everyone there for helping me.
Yours sincerely,
Charlie Swales

Dear Professor Mithen,
I would like to thank you and your team for showing us the site.
It was really muddy and boggy I nearly lost my wellie! It was very exiting when we arrived. We saw lots of people working. The quartz tools you found were amazing. It was amazing holding tools that Neolithic villagers would have used.
I really enjoyed the geophysics. It was amazing seeing how it worked and learning how the electrical current went through the machine. I also enjoyed the digging, I liked the tools we used and how we used them. I learned how to use a trowel properly.
I learned lots about what archaeologists do and about the Giant’s Grave. Thanks again.
Yours sincerely,
Connor MacGregor

Dear Professor Mithen,
Thank you for the very interesting trip to the Giants’ Grave. It was fun helping you and your team.
I learned about the different sections of the burial tomb. Some of the information, like it was a Neolithic burial tomb, I already knew but the information about being the biggest one on the island I didn’t know.
My favourite part was when I got to get muddy. It was fun. Also the photography was really fun because I got to help take pictures and interview my partner.
One of the things I most enjoyed was heading to the site because I had always wanted to go to a place like a Neolithic burial tomb.
I also used my listening and questioning skills to gain information about the site.
It was fun talking to archaeologists and I can’t wait to tell my mum about it.
Your sincerely,
Eilidh Maclellan

Dear Professor Mithen and team,
Thank you for giving up your time and teaching us all about the Neolithic people and the burial tomb. It was so amazing to see all the stones. They were so massive. I wish I could have seen what it would have looked liked 5000 years ago. Thank you for guiding us up the hill it was an amazing walk. The trees were so pretty.
I would like to thank Darko for telling us about the Giant’s Grave too. I didn’t know it was the biggest burial tomb on Islay. It’s amazing! I did the digging and drawing with Rebecca. I really loved the digging with and drawing. If I had got to do some photography, I think I would have liked it too. The archaeologists I worked with were Scarlet and Nick. They were so nice. I hope I can go with my family next time. I can’t wait to see the model of the burial tomb.
Yours sincerely,
Erin Marshall

Dear Professor Mithen and team,
Thank you for helping me learn more about archaeology. Thank you to you and your team for giving up your time and letting us help with the dig. I really enjoyed digging and getting my hands dirty! I am going to tell my family all about the trip and the digging part too. I am looking forward to seeing a model of the Giant’s Grave.
Yours sincerely,
Fergus Green

Dear Professor Mithen,
Thank you for taking time off and showing us around the Giant’s Grave. It was great fun getting our hands muddy. The archaeologist that I worked with was called Nick. I liked working with Nick. I enjoyed the digging the most.
Yours sincerely,
Kyle Jamieson

Dear Professor Mithen,
Thank you for the very interesting trip. We got to see and learn loads about the Giant’s Grave. I loved all the information you gave us about it. I loved working with Tom. Charlie was my partner. We helped soak up all the muddy water with sponges. We used trowels. That was really, really fun. It was interesting looking at the quarts tool. There was a knife. Somebody even dug up a whisky bottle! I was so impressed with the stones. They were so big! Thank you.
Yours sincerely,
Oliver Bowman

Dear Professor Mithen and team,
Thank you for helping us get to the Giant’s Grave. It was a long walk but it was worth it when we got up there.
I really enjoyed digging and learning how to use a trowel with Scarlet. I also enjoyed drawing a stone with Nick.
It would be nice to see you and your team again. Thank you again.
Yours sincerely,
Rebecca Thom

Dear Professor Mithen,
Thank you for leading us up the hill to the Giant’s Grave and taking time off to help us understand what you and your team are doing and why. Thank you also for letting us dig and work with the geophysicist’s machine. I really enjoyed learning about what you and your team do. I learnt that geophysicists use grids to mark out the landscape. I wish I could have stayed longer but I know you are busy people and can’t work properly with children around! I hope you and your team are successful. I hope your model of the Giant’s Grave goes well. I hope you and your team are enjoying digging.
Yours sincerely,
William Epps