Sif, The Viking Trader

015

I will be in costume and in character as Sif, a Viking trader’s wife, and begin by introducing myself with a few words of old Norse, it’s not much, just “Hello, my name is…” I tell the class where to find my longship if they want to do some business later on and ask if they’d like me to teach them how to be Vikings.

 

I explain how much my clothing says about me as a Viking – knife for freedom, wealth, status etc – before teaching them how to dress properly by getting a girl and boy to come and dress up. This also shows the contrast between rich and poor.

 

Because the production of clothing was such an important part of the lives of women throughout history, we then go on to look at how clothing was made. The preparation of wool for spinning allows for a brief discussion of the importance of slave labour, then I do a little spinning (audience participation required), before asking for a couple of volunteers to demonstrate how my warp-weighted loom works. Food and cooking may also be discussed during this session.

 

As I am speaking I ask the children questions, firstly because this allows me to guage their level of knowledge and adjust my performance accordingly, and secondly because it gets them to make direct comparisons between their everyday lives and the equivalent aspect of Viking life. My performance is also interspersed with little anecdotes from history and mythology.

 

The second half is about wider aspects of Viking life.

 

In order to explain why the Vikings came to this country we would do some role-play.

 

Next we need a strong boy to come and be a soldier, demonstrating weapons, armour, and shield wall.

 

I usually pause for a while to allow an artefact handling session using the pieces we have been looking at so far – Thor’s hammer, drinking horn, armour etc. I prefer not to talk at this point because it’s nice to let the class discuss the objects for themselves.

 

Because the sagas are such a vital part of Viking culture we finish with a story – either Sigurd and the dragon or Beowulf.

 

Questions and answers to finish as time allows – I normally ask the teacher to choose who asks because that way you are in charge of when the session ends.

 

Time for each session is approximately two hours – however this is flexible to fit around your timetable for breaks, assemblies etc. Obviously for a half day some of the above might have to be omitted, so if there is a particular subject you want to focus on please let me know. Because the Saxons and the Vikings had so much culture in common these two subjects can be combined in one session if you so wish.

Posted in Viking | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Aefgifu, the Anglo-Saxon woman

014

I will be in costume and in character as Aefgifu, a Saxon lady, and begin by introducing myself with a few words of old Anglo Saxon, it’s not much, just “Hello, my name is…” I tell the class where to find my longship if they want to do some business later on and ask if they’d like me to teach them how to be a Saxon.

 

I explain how much my clothing says about me as a Saxon– knife for freedom, wealth, status, religious beliefs etc – before teaching them how to dress properly by getting a girl and boy to come and dress up. This also shows the contrast between rich and poor.

 

Because the production of clothing was such an important part of the lives of women throughout history, we then go on to look at how clothing was made. The preparation of wool for spinning allows for a brief discussion of the importance of slave labour, then I do a little spinning (audience participation required), before asking for a couple of volunteers to demonstrate how my warp-weighted loom works. Food and cooking may also be discussed during this session.

 

As I am speaking I ask the children questions, firstly because this allows me to guage their level of knowledge and adjust my performance accordingly, and secondly because it gets them to make direct comparisons between their everyday lives and the equivalent aspect of Saxon life. My performance is also interspersed with little anecdotes from history and mythology.

 

The second half is about wider aspects of Saxon life.

 

In order to focus on the importance of religion in Saxon England, I get one of the boys to come up and do some role play as a monk. As well as teaching the class some of the monastic sign language used by the Saxons, we get to treat the class for various medical ailments common in Saxon England, using cures from Bald’s Leechbook.

 

Once our new “Brother” has gone back to the monastery to pray we need a strong boy to come and be a soldier, demonstrating weapons, armour, and shield wall, in order to defend the monastery from Viking attack.

 

I usually pause for a while to allow an artefact handling session using the pieces we have been looking at so far – loom weights, wax tablet, armour etc. I prefer not to talk at this point because it’s nice to let the class discuss the objects for themselves.

 

I usually tell the story of Beowulf and Grendel as my grand finale.

 

Questions and answers to finish as time allows – I normally ask the teacher to choose who asks because that way you are in charge of when the session ends.

 

Time for each session is approximately two hours – however this is flexible to fit around your timetable for breaks, assemblies etc. Obviously for a half day some of the above might have to be omitted, so if there is a particular subject you want to focus on please let me know. Because the Saxons and the Vikings had so much culture in common these two subjects can be combined in one session if you so wish.

Posted in Anglo-Saxon | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Claudia, The Roman Centurion’s wife

001a

I will be in costume and in character as Claudia Marcia Capitolina, a real centurion’s wife whose husband was stationed at York . I begin by introducing myself in Latin – it’s not much, just “Hello, my name is…” before telling the class that I’ve come to Romanise the them (and having a little whinge about having to follow my husband all over the empire!).

 

I’m dressed as a Roman lady from Rome itself, so I explain how you can tell where someone comes from in the empire by the way they’re dressed, before getting some of the kids to come and dress as a Romano-British girl and boy, as well as Roman man from Rome. This also points out the difference between rich and poor.

 

Because the production of clothing was such an important part of the lives of women in the ancient world, we then go on to look at how clothing was made. The preparation of wool for spinning allows for a brief discussion of the importance of slave labour in the classical world, then I do a little spinning (audience participation required), before asking for a couple of volunteers to demonstrate how my warp-weighted loom works. Looking at the dyestuffs used to colour the clothing also leads to a discussion of Celtic life. Food and cooking may also be discussed during this session.

 

As I am speaking I ask the children questions, firstly because this allows me to guage their level of knowledge and adjust my performance accordingly, and secondly because it gets them to make direct comparisons between their everyday lives and the equivalent aspect of Roman life. My performance is also interspersed with little anecdotes from history and mythology.

 

During the second half we examine wider aspects of Roman life and the empire by looking at things the Romans did to spread their influence. Firstly we look at things they did for fun which also spread their cultural influences across the empire, focusing on baths and bathing. To do this we need a boy with a good sense of humour to come to the baths and be “Stinkius Maximus” as well as someone to be his slave.

 

Next we look at the army, so we need another volunteer to come and be an auxiliary soldier and dress in armour.

 

I usually pause for a while to allow an artefact handling session using the pieces we have been looking at so far – armour, strigil, mortarium, etc. I prefer not to talk at this point because it’s nice to let the class discuss the objects for themselves.

 

We can also have either a short or long story from Roman mythology.

 

Questions and answers to finish as time allows – I normally ask the teacher to choose who asks because that way you are in charge of when the session ends.

 

Time for each session is approximately two hours – however this is flexible to fit around your timetable for breaks, assemblies etc. Obviously for a half day some of the above might have to be omitted, so if there is a particular subject you want to focus on please let me know.

Posted in Roman | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Sabine Johnson, the Tudor Merchant’s wife

046

I will be in costume and in character as Sabine Johnson, a real Tudor merchant’s wife. Because the Johnson family letters survive this allows me to intersperse my performance with anecdotes from the Johnsons’ family life.

 

I begin by insulting the children – since any respectable Tudor person would keep their heads covered – and tell them I have come to teach them good Tudor manners.

 

Firstly I show what my clothing says about me – respectability and status – and then get a boy and girl to come and put on costume also. Because my clothing is relatively high status this allows us to see clearly the contrast between the dress of rich and poor in Tudor England.

 

As I am speaking I ask the children questions, firstly because this allows me to guage their level of knowledge and adjust my performance accordingly, and secondly because it gets them to make direct comparisons between their everyday lives and the equivalent aspect of Tudor life. My performance is also interspersed with little anecdotes from history and the Johnson family letters.

 

Next we use artefacts related to dress – purse, shoes, chamber pots etc – to explore various aspects of Tudor society, with particular reference what the streets were like in busy towns.

 

Once we are all properly educated in Tudor dress its time to move on to education in Tudor times. I make the children define literacy for me before dividing the group up into who would be literate or illiterate and exploring what this meant in context.

 

Then I get one of the girls to come and be a Tudor servant girl, and we “demonstrate” what Tudor toilets were like!

 

I usually pause for a while to allow an artefact handling session using the pieces we have been looking at so far – I prefer not to talk at this point because it’s nice to let the class discuss the objects for themselves.

 

We have a short or long storytelling session, depending on the time available.

 

Questions and answers to finish.

 

Time for each session is approximately two hours – however this is flexible to fit around your timetable for breaks, assemblies etc. Obviously for a half day some of the above might have to be omitted, so if there is a particular subject you want to focus on please let me know.

 

 

Posted in Tudor | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

niera, the ancient greek housewife

I will be in costume and in character as Neira, an Ancient Greek woman.

 

In order to point out that the Ancient Greeks spoke another language, I begin by introducing myself in Ancient Greek – its not a lot, just, “Hello, my name is…” This allows me to inform the children that they’re all barbarians, since our word “barbarian” comes from the Greek “barbaroi” which basically means anyone who doesn’t speak Greek.

 

The first half of the performance is all about everyday life, so I briefly explain what I’m wearing before getting a couple of the children up to get dressed as civilised people ought to.

 

Because the production of clothing was such an important part of the lives of women in the ancient world, we then go on to look at how clothing was made. The preparation of wool for spinning allows for a brief discussion of the importance of slave labour in the classical world, then I do a little spinning (audience participation required), before asking for a couple of volunteers to demonstrate how my warp-weighted loom works. Food and cooking may also be discussed during this session.

 

As I am speaking I ask the children questions, firstly because this allows me to guage their level of knowledge and adjust my performance accordingly, and secondly because it gets them to make direct comparisons between their everyday lives and the equivalent aspect of Ancient Greek life. My performance is also interspersed with little anecdotes from history and mythology, so for instance when we look at weaving I would then tell the story of Athene and Arachne.

 

The second half is about wider aspects of Greek life.

 

We can do some fun role play about how the Ancient Greeks interacted with their Gods, focusing on Asclepius, God of medicine.

 

I divide the class up into who would be citizens and who would be slaves, allowing us to explore the lives of different classes within society. We can also explore education, and how this differed according to wealth and gender.

 

Finally there is a discussion of weapons and warfare. For this year I have newly acquired a set of body armour, which I’m hoping it will be possible to get someone to wear at this point.

 

I usually pause for a while to allow an artefact handling session using the pieces we have been looking at so far – helmet, sword, dyestuffs etc. I prefer not to talk at this point because it’s nice to let the class discuss the objects for themselves.

 

Questions and answers to finish as time allows – I normally ask the teacher to choose who asks because that way you are in charge of when the session ends.

 

Time for each session is approximately two hours – however this is flexible to fit around your timetable for breaks, assemblies etc. Obviously for a half day some of the above might have to be omitted, so if there is a particular subject you want to focus on please let me know.Props

Posted in Ancient Greek | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment