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St Albans Cathedral Roman Festival

If you happened to be around the Cathedral last week, you might be forgiven for thinking you had stepped back in time, or may have been a bit surprised to find members of staff wearing Roman armour. Between 18th and 22nd September, the St Albans Cathedral Education Centre welcomed nearly 500 children from 10 schools across Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and North London.  The modern day Romans took part in three activities during their Roman experience days.  The first introduced them to the story of Alban, how he experienced life in Roman Verulamium and why we still remember him today.

The next activity allowed the children to channel their inner Indiana Jones as they took part in a ‘blanket dig’, peeling back layers of the past.  Underneath each layer artefacts from different periods could be found, from contemporary drinks cans and crisp packets on the top, through to items left over from the Victorian, Tudor, medieval, Roman and Stone Ages. Education Officer Steve Clarke said that this activity was about ‘peeling back the layers of the past, looking for what was lost or broken and giving children the opportunity to handle these artefacts and develop their investigative skills in the process.’ The children were also able to see professional archaeologists at work as they visited the dig currently being undertaken at the Cathedral. During these dig visits, the children were able to speak to the archaeologists and even see some of their most recent finds.

All that digging through blankets must have worked up quite an appetite as the final activity of the day was to enter the world of the Roman Triclinium (dining room) as they helped in the preparation of a Roman ‘cena’ or dinner party. This was then served to the children by the Education Centre team.  On the menu were Dates Alexandrine (stuffed dates), Dulce Domestica (fig balls), Mixtura (herbed, cheese puree) and Melcas (cheese sweetened with honey).

Once again the Roman Festival week was a huge success and, as Steve Clarke, Education Officer put it, ‘with the Romans on the National Curriculum nationwide in Key Stage 2, it was the perfect way to start the 2017/18 Education Centre term with a bang!’

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