Exploring the History of Mumbles Workshop : 19th October 2023
Our workshop with Whitestone School revolved around the intriguing discovery of a previously unknown ancient pathway across the bay, unveiled by Knights Brown. To commence this exploration, we joined forces with an archaeologist, embarking on a historical journey to unearth the secrets of these age-old routes.
To enrich the students' learning experience, a history student from Swansea University volunteered to document the day's events through photography and recording.
The Whitestone School students gathered at the beach, where they undertook the fascinating task of constructing their own trackway, harmonizing with the school's current "build it" theme. Their creations were not only educational but also visually striking.
Similar to our engagement with Llwynderw, Whitestone's theme centered on the History of Mumbles. We discussed the ancient trackway and its pivotal role in early trade, ultimately giving rise to oyster fishing and establishing oyster beds in the bay. Students employed a white sheet to mark and illustrate the locations of these historical elements while employing descriptive language to convey their significance.
All these activities unfolded along the seafront, near the original trackway excavations. Despite challenging weather conditions, the excursion was an unequivocal success, thanks in part to the gracious support of Dennis, the owner of 'Ripples' cafe, who generously provided us with an exclusive classroom setting and hot chocolate, offering refuge from rain showers.
As we ventured to the beach, archaeologists joined our group in creating a human timeline using artifacts spanning various historical periods, from the present day through the era of oyster fishing, all the way back to the Bronze Age and Stone Age. This interactive timeline allowed students to physically experience the passage of time, and they were delighted by the emergence of the sun during this engaging activity. Topics such as metalworking, trade, and depictions of the oyster beds and ancient trackway were explored.
During our discussions, we highlighted the use of dialect to describe Oysters, such as a "carpet bag," signifying a steak wrapped around oysters. Each student received a dialect dictionary, and we captured images of the dialect words displayed on the walls of Ripples cafe. Additionally, we discussed the seasonal Oyster fair, where children crafted and sold oyster-themed houses made from shells and candle holders. Teachers were equipped with tealights and a few shells to enable pupils to recreate these crafts at school.
Upon reaching the Bronze Age on the timeline, we introduced students to a bronze spear and its potential use by a significant warrior who likely navigated the bay using the trackway. A picture of the spear was provided to aid in the explanation.
Subsequently, students collaborated with the archaeologists to reenact a section of the trackway where it had been unearthed, walking on it to assess its efficacy in keeping their feet dry. Images of the ancient trackway, oyster beds, and skiffs were also shared to provide context for the students' work.
The students enthusiastically participated in a "geologising" activity, scouring the area for rocks bearing traces of iron, akin to the Celts on Kilvey Hill and the Romans on Mumbles Hill. This experience will contribute to a creative map in a future workshop.