Future Archaeologists at Work

Kilcoe National School Fourth Class - archaeologists of the future!

Kilcoe National School Fourth Class – archaeologists of the future!

A joint post by Robert and Finola, with additional photographs by Kilcoe National School.

Out of the blue this week came a message though the Roaringwater Journal Facebook page: The pupils of 4th class in Kilcoe NS have completed a history project for Discover Cork: Schools Heritage Project, on Archaeology in their local area. Their model and project book are on display tomorrow Tuesday January 20th from 2-3pm in the school hall. They invite you to come and see their work as you already do so much wonderful research on the area.

Delighted, we headed off to the school and were quite bowled over by what we saw. The students had been on field trips to several different types of monuments – a standing stone, a stone pair, a holy well, a cairn, a fulacht fia, a cillín and a ringfort. They had recorded their visits, their questions, and what they learned about each site. The formal archaeology was of interest to them, but also the stories and traditions about each site. They interviewed elderly community members and landowners and looked up the records for their area from the National Folklore Commission.

Once they had gathered all their notes and photographs they constructed a model showing each of the sites, a scrapbook of their records and drawings, another one showing what they had learned about the prehistoric way of life in West Cork, and a large photograph album charting their progress through the whole project.

Impressive as the work was that the children had put into this project, even more striking was their bubbling enthusiasm for what they had done and learned. Each table was manned by one or more of the students, ready to chat with us, show us the model or the photos, and explain everything. And how articulate and open and bright they were! Smiling and cheerful, but also earnest about their subject and falling over each other to add bits of information. It was totally captivating.

They had hiked up to a cairn – a large and mysterious feature on top of a prominent hill. It was said that you could see 15 churches from it. However, the cairn is now surrounded by tall trees as a result of a forestry plantation and therefore there is no longer any view from it. Local people had protested the plantation at the time, concerned that this cairn and its views should be preserved intact, but had lost the battle. In this write-up, I was touched to see a a photograph of my old friend, Bernard O’Regan, the local amateur archaeologist who, 40 years ago, had taken me to see several of the rock art panels in West Cork.

Visiting the Holy Well

Visiting the Holy Well

What a great project these children undertook – hats off to their teacher and the supportive community. The future for conservation and archaeology in West Cork is in safe hands! A huge thank you to Kilcoe National School for the invitation, and to their official photographer for sharing with us the superb photographs of the field trips.

11 thoughts

  1. Great work you young ones! Even if you don’t grow up to be professional archaeologists you’ll at least have a working knowledge of and respect for prehistoric history that not all young people have.
    In my schooldays we were trusted enough one term to split into teams to do a project on a local site of interest. Our team of three just treated it as free time and only panicked and wrote something down on the last day!


  2. This is just excellent way to teach the younger generations about why and how they may learn that there are many reasons to appreciate the land around them.

    Liked by 1 person

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