Kids to try farming in the Iron Age

Children taking part in the Iron Age farming project at Gorgie City Farm. Picture: contributed
Children taking part in the Iron Age farming project at Gorgie City Farm. Picture: contributed
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CITY schoolkids are to be transported back to the Iron Age to learn how our ancestors worked the land.

After planting seeds which will be used to make the sort of basic gruel and bread our forefathers lived on, the kids will plough the soil with deer antlers and use millstones to grind the flour.

All of the ancient farming techniques are carried out exactly as they would have been 2000 years ago – when Edinburgh was just a few small huts – said Melissa Viguier from the School of Ancient Crafts. Thanks to a £10,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant, she is currently ensuring children get a chance to learn about the agricultural techniques that helped us thrive.

She said: “Through these hands-on workshops, kids really get an understanding of history and what their ancestors had to do to survive.”

Entitled The Iron Age Farming and Fashion Project, ancient seeds have already been planted at participating schools including Broughton Primary, Craigour Primary and Cramond Primary. Gorgie City Farm is also taking part.

In August – wearing Celtic costumes – they will harvest their crops to make bread and porridge. They will also be growing dye plants such as woad, and having a go at dyeing sheep’s wool.

Melissa said: “This project was inspired by the Iron Age remains in Holyrood Park, and I hope everyone involved in the project will enjoy learning how to make bread, porridge and dyes the Iron Age Way.”

The School of Ancient Crafts works with young people in Edinburgh teaching them the skills and crafts of the past. Through this practical approach to history, pupils learn about the day-to-day lives of our ancestors, and also make wonderful replica objects to take home.

City councillor Paul Godzik, education convener, said: “It’s great that three of our primary schools are getting the chance to take part in this fantastic Iron Age project. I’m sure the pupils will really enjoy making the bread and porridge from the actual seeds they have planted as well as dyeing the wool.

“There’s also an important educational part to the project which fits in perfectly with Curriculum for Excellence as the children will also learn about the rich history of Edinburgh’s past and just what it was like living here 2000 years ago.”

Colin Mclean, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund Scotland, said: “We are delighted to be able to offer this grant so that The Iron Age Farming Project can embark on a real journey of discovery.”