After a three month break the Dolbury Hill Fort project resumed with an exciting session looking at archaeological site formation processes. In other words, the children learned how archaeologists discover what used to exist on an Iron Age site.
With the objective of “understanding the landscape” we looked at what Iron Age hill fort settlements may have looked like and talked about why people would have chosen to build on a hill. Killerton’s Dolbury Hill Fort, which is a scheduled monument, would have provided both protection and an important meeting place for the community. Following our discussion, the children had the opportunity to recreate a mini-settlement using playdough for the ground, sticks for a palisade fence, wood for the posts of a round house, and other resources such as gems, clay pots, and weapons made from Fimo. Each settlement looked unique and some children had built elaborate rubbish tips outside their round houses! Once the settlements were finished we imagined that the Romans were on their way, and the settlers had abandoned the hill fort taking with them anything that could be used again.
Left bare and uninhabited, the settlements would have collected layers of soil which archaeologists would have to excavate to discover what would have existed on the hill fort. The children reproduced this process by removing all the structures from their models, leaving the post holes and stones behind, and covering the playdough with a layer of soil.
After swapping their models with each other the children used brushes and trowels to excavate the settlements and discovered the post holes and other evidence of Iron Age life. Through this practical activity, the children began to understand the landscape of an Iron Age Hill Fort in preparation for our exploration of Dolbury hill next week.