Children at a North Yorkshire primary school have created their own mini museum, after receiving Roman artefacts discovered beneath their school by archaeologists.
When Norton Community Primary School expanded onto additional premises on Langton Road during 2016 to 2017, archaeologists discovered a wealth of important finds relating to Roman Norton and Malton. The town was the location of a large Roman fort and wider Roman settlement which grew up around it.
They included an unusually complete Roman cremation burial, known as a bustum, where the remains of the body were left undisturbed in the ashes of the funeral pyre. Archaeologists discovered that the person cremated had been a second to third-century Roman solider, presumably station in the nearby fort at Malton.
Another intriguing discovery was a burial containing two goose heads, the reason for which remains unclear. Other finds included jet jewellery, complete copper bracelets and fragments of a ceramic cockerel, potentially linked with the god Mercury.
The excavation, which was carried out by JB Archaeology, also uncovered traces of a number of stone buildings, including a corn drier/malting oven.
The most valuable and significant finds have been recorded and deposited at Malton Museum, but there is still a variety of other Roman material for school children to explore.
We have now shared some of these finds with local primary schools by producing education boxes tailored for seven to 11-year-olds.
The education boxes, produced by JB Archaeology, who undertook the excavation at Brooklyn House, contain examples of different types of pottery, including examples of amphorae, used for importing wine or oil from the Mediterranean and Spain, as well as material from local potteries and animal bones which reveal the types of food available to the people of Roman Norton. Included are information packs which provide schools with information on life in Roman Malton and Norton.
Norton Community Primary School has used the education resource to create a Roman museum in school.
Headteacher, Liz Parker, said: “The Year 4 children have really enjoyed seeing the artefacts and decided that they should make a museum to present them in.
“They spent time researching facts and making posters to advertise their museum for visitors from the rest of the school. It really brought the topic of Romans alive and made it even more special to know that the artefacts came from the grounds of their own school.
“With all the restrictions put upon schools and children this year, it was a welcome change to be able to visit the Museum and take part in educational activities to bring their learning alive.”
County Councillor Patrick Mulligan, Executive Member for Schools, said: “The artefacts discovered by archaeologists during the development of Norton Community Primary School’s Langton Road site, provide a significant and fascinating insight into life in Roman Norton and Malton.
“While the most important and significant finds are now housed at Malton Museum, we are pleased that we have been able to provide children locally with some of the other artefacts excavated. It has given them a fantastic opportunity to gain more understanding of their local heritage and an insight into how life in Roman Norton and Malton once looked.”
A publication looking at the finds and the insights into Roman life in Malton has also now been produced. Entitled Life, Death and Rubbish Disposal in Roman Norton, North Yorkshire: Excavations at Brooklyn House 2015-16 by Janet Phillips and Pete Wilson. Copies are available to read at North Yorkshire’s libraries in Malton, Norton and Pickering and at the County Council’s Historic Environment Record in Northallerton.