Year 6 Fishbourne trip
Sometimes it is easy to overlook what lies at our doorstep, even when that something is extraordinary. Fishbourne is one of those places.
The largest Roman villa in Britain excavated so far, we can only imagine how imposing and lavish it would have been on the basis of what is still visible on its site today. The sight of complex mosaics, underneath which earlier ones can be glimpsed, corridors and thresholds leading to courtyards, underfloor heating, dining areas and so on, filled Year 6 pupils with wonder and inspired many questions. We were able to see conservation in action and to ask questions of the staff carrying out a seemingly banal but crucial task, which made us appreciate even more the importance of these artefacts and the care required to preserve them.
The workshops were lively and full of activities: building arches, counting using an abacus, calculating the number of soldiers in a legion, completing mosaics, using pots to measure ingredients in a Roman kitchen and dressing up as a Roman, amongst others. One of the activities, measuring the size of a pot using part of its rim and chart, was not new to many pupils, as this was one of the activities they encountered last year, during the archaeology workshop held by Sophia Jundi in the Pilgrims’ Hall.
A video on the history of the palace and a tour of the museum, and more opportunities for dressing up, and hands-on activities in the palace itself, completed the full timetable. On such a sunny and warm day it was lovely to find shade in the garden laying on the triclinium under the shade of vines, and wandering through the small orchard, filled with herbs that would have been cultivated in the garden and used by its inhabitants centuries ago or playing under the shade of large trees. Looking beyond that, we were left wondering what secrets still lay underneath the nearby houses.
This sense of wonder and curiosity, as well as the insight we gained, hopefully will inspire Year 6 to explore and discover more about life in ancient Rome, visiting exhibitions or other sites, perhaps even this summer. Reading about it is a good option too, and a list of reading suggestions can be found in the Classics area of the Portal.