Stories from the Landscape

During academic year 2016/17, Carousel have secured funds from Heritage Lottery Fund to deliver ‘Stories from the Landscape’, an ambitious community heritage project in partnership with Stoke Canon C of E Primary School and National Trust Killerton.

The project will look at features in the landscape of the Killerton estate, focusing on the traditionally managed orchards, the Iron Age site of Dolbury Hillfort, and Killerton gardens with its collection of plants and trees from around the world.   All three sites reveal important and exciting stories about the local heritage and are examples of how the landscape has been shaped by people in the past.  The sites will be explored in three six week projects, one per term, through site visits, workshops, living history activities and events.

The project launched in September 2016 when the Year 2 pupils spent six weeks investigating the importance of Killerton’s orchards which not only produce apples for cider and apple juice, but also make an important home for wildlife.  Through a range of creative workshops, including a bioblitz, wildlife web and trip to Clyston Mill, pupils, teachers and parents celebrated life in a traditional orchard.  They even made their own special cider (apple juice), harvesting, squeezing and pressing their own apples as well as seeing the 200 yr old press in action.  Lou Prideaux, Education Volunteer at Killerton summarises the Orchard work below.

“Encouraging children to engage with the land, the outdoors, and nature is a key vision for the National Trust. The Killerton Orchard project provided the perfect opportunity for Year 2 pupils to discover the outdoors for themselves. Through exploration, art, education, and imagination these children touched, smelled, heard, and reproduced the environments around them. As a volunteer with Killerton I had the privilege of enabling this engagement. One of my highlights was seeing how quickly the children worked out how grain is processed at Clyston Mill.  They were given a stone and some grain, and encouraged to think through the process for themselves. Their joy in understanding and learning was wonderful.

While this and the other activities educated the children in creative ways, the whole project had two further functions. Firstly, it was clear that many of the children grew in social and communication skills as they worked consistently in small groups. Teamwork was essential, and a positive outcome of these burgeoning skills was self-confidence. I witnessed quieter children take a little more initiative each week, and those who were naturally more extrovert became more focussed in their energy and their attention.

Secondly, the project promoted an ethos of care for the environment which went beyond the level of education. Children who know they should care for the landscape may grow up to do so. Children whose imaginations are caught by the magic of the countryside will want to work for a healthy and more beautiful natural environment.  In partnership with the National Trust, the Killerton Orchard project achieved these goals in a short space of time. As a teacher and education volunteer I learned a great deal from it, and I very much enjoyed being a small part of the project.”

After Christmas, we’ll be moving onto explore the Iron Age site of Dolbury Hillfort with pupils from Key Stage 2, then Summer will see the reception children enjoying six weeks exploring the Victorian Gardens, including the famous Bear Hut.