Category Archives: Education

VM_365 Day 364 Curator’s Favourites: Ges

VM 364Today’s penultimate post for Day 364 of the VM_365 project features a selection of favourite images from our Curator, Ges.

One image that is particularly important to me is the newly minted VM_365 logo which we posted on Day 1. When we launched the project it was difficult to know how much work it would involve, and to anticipate where the threads of each days posts would lead us.

I am particularly pleased that like any other Museum we have been able to share events with you, like last year’s Archaeology for You, our table top Beaker burial for a school prehistoric study day which was posted on Day 228 and our recent friendships and fallouts workshops at Bradstow School which was the image for Day 354. The three images are shown from left to right in top row of the composite image, after the VM_Logo.

We have also been able to share our knowledge of the work and archives of the Heritage pioneers who first investigated Thanet’s archaeology, like Howard Hurd who recorded so much archaeology in Broadstairs and featured in a post on Day 40. We also acknowledged the inestimable contribution of people like our old friend the late Dr. Dave Perkins on Day 250. These two pioneers are shown from left to right on the second row.

New evidence has emerged from the more recent archaeological field work and analysis we carried out ourselves, supplementing the records of discoveries made by the pioneers. A particularly good example is the excavation of a small Roman cemetery at Ramsgate, where a picture from one of the graves was posted on Day 58 and is shown in the centre right of the middle row, confirming the discoveries documented by Ramsgate Surgeon Robert Hicks in the late 19th century, which featured in the post for Day 57 shown on the middle row, far right.

Archaeological research has been carried out for nearly 300 years in Thanet and we want to keep that tradition alive and thriving. We have tried to include some images that have challenged the conventional ideas of what archaeological investigation is concerned with. Our posts have ranged from artefacts associated with the Dreamland site like the knife pictured on Day 95, shown in the bottom left corner. Bottles from local soda water manufacturers, such the Phillpot plant in Ramsgate which featured on Day 348 reflect another aspect of the industrial archaeology of the Isle.

VM_365 Image sets also looked at the character of our ancient hidden hamlets and the impressive medieval parish churches like that at St. Peters which featured on Day 325. There were also VM_365 posts on the historic landscapes around the Isle of Thanet.

Reaching the milestones of the first month’s posts, or the first hundred posts or the unimaginable heights of the three hundredth posts were significant, but there was always so much ahead of us, not always with a rich stream of ideas of what the next post would be. On occasion the last desperate attempt at a post produced one of the most creative and popular articles.
It has been interesting to see some of the daily posts begin to evolve into long and related series with cross links and shared themes growing, albeit spread out over time. The story of the burial of a woman in an abandoned storage pit at North Foreland reproduced in the bottom right corner, which began on Day 43, is one that evolved to create a detailed description of the burial over several posts.

We have been able to update some cross links as we went on and the VM_365 project will be a network of information and references which we hope will stand for much longer than the 365 days of the project. We will draw on VM_365 to illustrate our work in the future. We are particularly proud that we have managed most of the processes to create the VM_365 posts in house, from managing the web pages to the production of most of the images we have used.

It has been a welcome relief to have had supplementary material from some great guest curators to lighten the load of producing a daily post for a whole year. Nigel Macpherson Grant’s contribution was celebrated yesterday on Day 363 and that of Steve Willis on Day 362. Much of the success of the posting depended on the photographs originally created for the Virtual Museum by Paul Hart. All these people gave us a tremendous body of material to draw on when our own knowledge was lacking or our time was short. We’ve also been able to interweave some solid factual information alongside some more contemplative posts.

I would like to thank our good friend Nicki, who once mentioned in conversation that she had done a 365 photo project herself, and so the creative wheels started turning at the Trust. Thanks for following and commenting throughout the project as well.

Most of all I would like to thank Emma, who shared her favourite images on Day 361, for keeping the project going when the project initiator (!) often wished that the project hadn’t been initiated. It is perhaps worth considering that each VM_365 post has taken around two hours to create and cross post each day. That’s 730 head-scratching, clicking and typing hours over the year.

VM_365 was carried out by us entirely on a voluntary basis, in addition to our usual work. I ask our colleagues who didn’t arrive home until late over the year because we had to ‘quickly’ post a VM_365 piece before leaving the office to forgive us, we hope they agree it has been for the greater good!

The project more than achieved its aims in adding many people to our community of archaeological friends, but the success also imposed an unexpected destruction test on our website at the last minute. Regular re-tweeters, likers and commenters have supported the project throughout, and among many solid supporters were Andy Mayfield/Archaeology in Kent and Sophie Adams/Tactile Archaeology who could be relied on for a late night like, share or retweet. Our good friend Maggy is a bloggers dream reader, posting kind and encouraging comments and helpful reminders to all that the VM_365 posts were cross platform and there was often more information elsewhere.

VM_365 is ultimately a labour of love, because we love the history and archaeology of the Isle of Thanet and we’d love you to love it too!

VM_365 Day 355 Farewell to all that

VM 355

Today’s post for Day 355 of the VM_365 project features a series of images behind the scenes at our Friendships and Fallouts, Waterloo to World War One TimeTunnel, which has featured in the last four days of VM_365.

Day 351 took you through the first stage of the Tunnel, exploring Britain at the time of Waterloo, Day 352 took us to the Victorian period and the Crimean War. The industrial era and the age of Inventions in the 19th century featured on Day 353 and we entered World War One on Day 354.

Today’s picture shows how we built the flats that featured in the Time Tunnel and some of the scenes along the way, as well as some of the lighter moments of setting up and running the Time Tunnel experience.

Once again we had great fun at Bradstow School and we hope that we gave an interesting and educational experience to our travellers through time.

It all over now, and it isn’t even Christmas

VM_365 Day 353 Waterloo to WW1 event. Stage 3

VM 353The VM_365 post for Day 353 shows the third two stages in our TimeTunnel, built for four days of school activities at Bradstow School in Broadstairs in which we trace the changes in British society from the end of the Napoleonic Wars with the Battle of Waterloo to the beginning of World War 1.

Yesterday’s post for Day 352 of the VM_365 project followed the accession of Queen Victoria to the throne, her marriage to Prince Albert, the expansion of the British empire and also took a brief look at the Crimean War.

In today’s image you can see the third two stages of our journey through the TimeTunnel into the Industrial Age. Using our specially constructed chimney, shown on the right, (which includes real smoke) we introduce our visitors to what life might have been like in our Industrial towns as more people were now living in towns than in the rural countryside. Coal was being burnt to produce steam power which in turn allowed more steam powered machinery to be used, leading to higher volumes in manufacturing of all types of goods.

Our visitors then explore where coal comes from and we emphasise that children as young as ten had full time jobs working in coal mines, often for long hours so that they could contribute to the family wage. Our modern day visitors then have an opportunity to pass through our short section of coal mine, avoiding the coal carts running on rails within the tunnel which is shown in the image on the left.

After exiting the coal mine safely (we hope) our visitors are then shown some of the major inventions of the industrial and early modern age which include the car, the zeppelin and the aeroplane; machinery that was later put to use in World War I.

Our visitors are also given a taste of the Boer War where Khaki uniforms and trench warfare are used for the first time. The circumstances of the establishment of Germany and the insecurities that the development of such a potentially powerful state caused among the other countries in Europe are then explained. The creation of new allies and friendships against the threat from the newly formed Germany are briefly introduced as well as a new fallout in the Royal family between Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and King George V, King of England, who were first cousins and both grandsons of Queen Victoria.

Tomorrow we will explore the last stage in our Time Tunnel and find out what happened in World War I and where the most important friendships were made………



VM_365 Day 352 Waterloo to WW1 event. Stage 2

VM 352The VM_365 post for Day 352 is of the second two stages in our TimeTunnel, built for four days of school activities at Bradstow School in Broadstairs in which we trace the changes in British society from the end of the Napoleonic Wars with the Battle of Waterloo to the beginning of World War 1.

Yesterday’s post for Day 351 of the VM_365 project followed the early years of the 19th century from the French revolution to the Battle of Waterloo to what life was like for rural Britain at that time.

In today’s images you can see the second two stages of our journey through time. Using the easel shown in the image on the left we introduce Queen Victoria who came to the throne in 1837, and her marriage not long afterwards to Prince Albert, a prince from a small German state. The German origins of the British royal family are explained and also Queen Victoria’s familial relationship to many of the European Royal families. We also highlight Prince Albert’s promotion of liberal reforms and new industries and innovations from across the British Empire.

In the second vignette shown on the left we introduce the Crimean war which began in 1853 and ended in 1856.  We highlight that Britain was now allied with France as well as Sardinia and the Ottoman Empire against the Russian Empire. We emphasise the harsh conditions in which the allied troops were fighting particularly in terms of the cold winters and poor medical care and describe the contributions made by Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole to improving and professionalising nursing of wounded soldiers. We highlight that although the two women were from very different parts of the British Empire both travelled to the Crimea to help.

On a lighter note,  in this second vignette we also introduce another item of clothing, a knitted full face covering which was designed to protect soldiers faces from the bitter cold and show the many ways in which it could be worn. This item of clothing was later named the Balaclava Helmet after the battle at which it was first worn.

More stages in our travel in time from Waterloo to World War 1 tomorrow………..



VM_365 Day 351 Waterloo to WW1 event Stage 1

VM 351

The VM_365 post for Day 251 is of the first two stages in our TimeTunnel, built for four days of school activities at Bradstow School in Broadstairs.

In the Tunnel we trace the changes in British society from the century following the end of the Napoleonic Wars at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 to the early years of World War 1. The journey focuses on friendships and fallouts between nations, population and families.

In the first two stages of the trip through time we have two vignettes where we explain the ideals and the effects of the French revolution and the reaction of the other nations of Europe, which culminated in the confrontation with Napoleon’s Army at Waterloo. The local connections with Wellington’s Army and Thanet’s ports are part of the story told at this point in time and a lighter note is introduced deciding whether the Duke of Wellington lent his name to a form of waterproof boot or to informal running shoes. Anyone heard of the Duke of Trainers?

The second station explores the way of life of most of the people of Britain in the early 19th century,  at the time of the Battle of Waterloo. The majority of the population lived in rural communities or small towns and industry in our region was concentrated on manufacturing of supplies for the Navy such as the production of Gunpowder in the Faversham area. We explore methods for preserving and transporting country produce  in barrels and casks and the innovation of sealing food in cans which transformed the preservation and transport of food in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Canning started as an experiment with the Napoleonic French Army and was taken up with enthusiasm by the British Army. The theme of canned food is taken up again later in the TimeTunnel in the trenches of the Western front.  Bully Beef for Tommy.

The final theme in this pre-industrial era is to point out that the principal sources of power remained that of the muscle power of humans and animals, especially horses. Now is it possible that we were able to get two fully grown horses into the Time Tunnel? Follow the journal posts this week to find out…


VM_365 Day 350 Virtual Museum TimeTunnel for School Event

VM 350

Today’s image for Day 349 of the VM_365 project was taken as the Trust set up a Virtual Museum TimeTunnel, ready for four days of workshops for schools to be hosted at Bradstow School in Broadstairs from the 15th to the 18th of June 2015.

The Heritage Lottery funded event ‘Friendships and Fallouts, from Waterloo to World War One’ will see as many as 500 children pass through the workshops and activities in the grounds of the school. The event commemorates both the bicentenery of the battle of Waterloo and the continued marking of the hundredth anniversary of the First World War.

The TimeTunnel will take children on a journey through the changes that took place in British life in the hundred years from the defeat of Napoleon to the outbreak of a conflict that reached every part of the world.  The TimeTunnel visits  a series of scenes that explore the changes from industrialisation to the great inventions of the early 20th century which created the means to make global conflict possible.  As the journey through the tunnel takes place, the friendships between nations, families, working people and soldiers are investigated and the fallouts that provoked conflict between people and nations are revealed. The journey through the TimeTunnel ends in the battlefields of the Western Front with the fate of all the travellers left undecided.

Journal articles over the next four days will reveal the secrets of the VM TimeTunnel and follow the progress of the event.

VM_365 Day 265 Art inspired by the Lord of the Manor prehistoric archaeology

VM 265

The image for today’s post on Day 265 of the VM_365 project is an illustration by the Trust’s first Director David Perkins, inspired, as much of his work was,  by the landscape and prehistoric archaeology of Lord of the Manor Ramsgate.

The archaeological excavations that were carried out to explore the many features that were revealed by aerial photography in the area near Lord of the Manor were very significant to understanding the scale of prehistoric settlement in Thanet.

Using their experience of digging several of the major sites  revealed in the Landscape, both Dave Perkins and Len Jay used their artistic skills to record their activities and to interpret the sites they  were uncovering.

The coloured drawing  by Dave Perkins recreates a scene associated with the insertion of a new burial into the mound of one of the prehistoric round barrows located at the crest of the hill, an event that was attested in the archaeological record.

The stark white of the chalk that lies  at a shallow depth below the soil are visible in the cut of the ring ditch and the central mound where it was cast over a primary burial located at the centre. Baskets and shovels show that the ditch has been newly cleaned to refresh the surface of the chalk. The scene shows the mound as having been partly removed, so that another burial can be inserted within the circuit of the ditch. The later burial is perhaps that of a member of family who wishes to be close to a relative, or perhaps a clan member who wants to remind his followers of the source of his power. The burial may be of an unrelated individual who want to claim a connection with the glories of a bygone age. Grieving family members, along with warriors and perhaps elders of the clan are shown outside the ring ditch, while the person to be buried is carried across the ditch to the new grave.

Although the drawing reflects  the archaeological facts that were established from the sequence recovered from the ground, the truth of the scene’s representation of Bronze Age culture can never be known as there are no records to guide our interpretation with certainty.

VM_365 Day 264 Cropmarks record ancient Ramsgate landscape

VM 264Today’s image for Day 264 of the VM_365 project shows an aerial photograph of one of the most impressive groups of crop mark groups in Thanet’s historic landscape. The picture was taken in the the late 1970’s, from an aeroplane flying over the downland ridge at Lord of the Manor, Ramsgate overlooking Pegwell Bay.

In the photograph, which is facing south east toward Ramsgate, a chalk ridge extends from the lower right corner of the picture toward the top left. The ridge is isolated by the dry valleys that flank it on the right and left hand sides, affording spectacular views over the coastline to the south .

The overflight to photograph the cropmarks took place before several major developments in the road network in the immediate area took place, preserving a record of the  landscape despite the considerable changes  that have happened in recent years. The linear markings and circular shapes that can be seen through the variations in the colour of the crops growing in the field, indicate the locations of buried archaeological features and sites, which have been investigated in many phases of archaeological investigations that were guided by the location of the crop marks since the photograph was taken. The effect of buried archaeological sites  which produced the variations in colour in the growing crop was explained in a drawing produced by Dave Perkins in our VM_365 post for Day 252.

At the junction between a road and a railway cutting that can be seen at the top right of the picture, one of the earliest published archaeological investigations was conducted by William Rolfe, Thomas Wright and Charles Roach Smith, when an Anglo-Saxon cemetery was disturbed by the railway cutting in 1846.  A drawing made of one of the graves was shown on VM_365 Day 225. The Saxon cemetery and the more ancient Bronze Age ring ditches that had occupied the ridge, continued to be investigated in several stages in the later 20th century.  Images of some of the excavations of the Anglo-Saxon cemetery that were carried out in the 1980’s were shown in the VM_365 posts for Day 216 and Day 217.

The three concentric ring ditches of a multi-phase monument, which was first constructed in the Neolithic period and was renewed in the Beaker and Bronze Age periods, can be seen in the bottom right part of the image. A view of the partial excavation of the three ring ditches in 1976 was shown in the image for Day_21.

Archaeological work in this landscape has continued to be carried out with the ditches of an Iron Age settlement being explored in 2012 and in a  training excavation carried out as recently at 2013.


VM_365 Day 252 Crop and Soil Marks

How Crop and Soil Marks are formed illustrated by D. R. J. Perkins.
How Crop and Soil Marks are formed illustrated by D. R. J. Perkins.

Today’s image for Day 252 of the VM_365 project is an illustrations produced by Dave Perkins to explain how crop and soil marks, indicating the presence of buried archaeological deposits, form in the growing plants in Thanet’s agricultural fields. These cropmarks are usually identified by aerial photography.

Pits or ditches that have been cut into the bedrock retain moisture in dry spells and crops planted above them grow taller and darker (A) and (a). The intensity of the cropmark vary, shallow features give only faint marks (B) and deeply buried remains can produce nothing at all (C). Buried masonry,  where there is less moisture and soil for  the crop to grow, produces a negative mark, where the crop is shorter than the surrounding area (D).

Soil marks result when ploughing brings different coloured material from ancient deposits to the surface of a field (E).

Crop and soil marks have been a valuable resource for plotting archaeological sites over very large areas of agricultural landscape, particularly in the central agricultural areas of Thanet outside the main towns. The presence of mapped cropmarks has helped to predict what archaeological features may be found before excavations have taken place. However although they have been a good indication of the scale of buried sites, excavation has often revealed considerably more detail and complexity which was not present in the cropmarks.

VM_365 Day 240 Reconstruction of Roman cremation burial at Thorne

Reconstruction of 1st century Roman cremation at Thorne
Reconstruction of 1st century Roman cremation at Thorne

The image for Day 240 of the VM_365 project is of an artists reconstruction of the child’s grave, containing cremated remains and accessory vessels, based on one (Grave 5) excavated on a gas pipeline near Thorne, near Minster in Thanet, which was shown on Day 239. The painting is by Len Jay whose work reconstructing images from the Anglo-Saxon archaeology of Thanet, which he helped to discover, have featured in previous VM_365 posts on Day 216 and Day 217.

The image shows the rectangular pit being prepared to receive the pot containing the cremation, with the accessory vessels already in place. The grave has been excavated with a wooden shovel, strengthened by an iron blade added to the tip. On the left of the pit there is a heap of chalk from the geology that has been exposed below a thin covering of soil.   Human bones are present in the chalk, reflecting the many thousands of years that the landscape was used to create funerary monuments and the fact that successive generations often disturbed the remains of those that came before them, accidentally or deliberately.

On the left of the group of figures  surrounding the grave, a child is about to add a plate of food to accompany the vessels. Organic remains like food are something which we can not now detect through archaeology except in the rarest of circumstances, but the vessels imply that such perishable things were placed with the remains. The girl is comforted by a boy to her right and a dog howls into the air.

The burial of the cremated remains takes place on the crest of the ridge which forms the backbone of Thanet’s chalk landscape,  in the top right a sailing vessel is shown in the Wantsum channel  which is overlooked by the ridge. In the top right small figures tend a flock of sheep on the crest of the ridge. The prevailing wind that swept the open downland ridge, blowing the hair of the group to the left is still notable in the present day.

A cremation burial is simply the gathered ashes of a burnt body, that was arranged with vessels and other objects according to prevailing beliefs and sealed below a covering of soil, forming a lasting memorial to the person buried. The burning of a body is taking place in the background of this image on the crest of the ridge, using the wind to accelerate the wood fuelled fire so it could reach the temperatures that were necessary to reduce the body to ashes.

The landscape in this picture is recognisable to anyone who knows Thanet well, although it has changed considerably in recent years. However the details of the scene may reflect accurate archaeological data, it is still evocative of a distant time and of the human stories behind the objects that we recover as archaeological artefacts.