The Dark Ages - Saxons & Vikings
We offer a choice of workshops for Viking and Saxon-age Britain (click the link for each listing):
- An in-school day in which the children help either the Saxon King Alfred or the Viking King Guthrum prepare for battle
- Virtual workshops in which the children become residents of either Saxon Wintancaester or Viking Jorvik
The year is 878, and the Vikings under King Guthrum have taken over England. The Saxon King Alfred has gone into hiding and wants his kingdom back. Which side will prevail?
Off the Page’s Dark Ages Day puts your children in the midst of the action as either Vikings or Saxons, based on your preference. They take on everyday tasks in a 9th century village — including weaving, pottery, metal working and candlemaking — as rumours swirl of the coming battle between Alfred and Guthrum.
The afternoon looks at the Dark Ages from a historical perspective, with the children using archaeology to understand how we have learned about the historical tasks they performed in the morning.
How You Contribute to the Day
To make the most of your children’s day, please help us with the following:
- Adult helpers: The number of children participating determines how many work stations our Teacher brings. Please recruit a corresponding number of adults (teachers, TAs, parents) to oversee the activities and the afternoon session. (Your booking form lists the exact number needed.)
- The school hall: Please reserve the school hall for the full day (it is not a problem if it is used for lunch).
- Costumes: Please encourage the children to dress up in simple costumes. It helps them feel the part.
Please note that we still require adult helpers for in-school days. If this conflicts with your schools coronavirus policies, please let us know — a virtual workshop might be a better option for your school.
What to Wear
Costumes need not be complicated — we suggest the following “homemade” alternatives:
- Boys: A simple belted tunic, with or without sleeves; a cloak fastened on a right shoulder with a brooch (optional); trousers, either tucked into long socks or with sting or braid crossed round the lower legs; boots or old leather laced shoes.
- Girls: AA long dress, skirt and blouse or tabard; headscarf; A cloak (mantle), fastened on the right shoulder with a brooch (optional).
For those who prefer, we offer a bespoke costume service through History Off the Peg. We sell inexpensive costumes for both children and adults.
View costume options and pricing on our website, www.historyoffthepeg.co.uk. Place an order by sending an e-mail containing your name, your school, the date of the event, the topic, your child’s age and your child’s size to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Virtual Workshops — Saxons & Vikings
Unlike our in-school day, which your choice of sides in the same story, our virtual workshops offer two different (but still parallel) narratives:
It is a busy day for our host Cuthbert, a Saxon metalsmith. Vikings are attacking another settlement — despite their defeat by King Alfred, the Danes still raise trouble from time to time. This means taxes may need to be raised. The shire reeve is visiting Wintancaester tomorrow, so a folkmoot has been called to discuss laws and settle disputes. There is much to do to prepare.
The topics covered during the workshop include:
- A brief history of Winchester from Roman to Saxon times
- Saxon defense strategies, including the construction of walled burghs
- Saxon culture and lifestyle
- How Saxons and Vikings interact
- Saxon beliefs and educational practices
Meet Frode, a former Viking raider who now serves as a successful trader in Jorvik. The year is 885 AD, and Frode and his fellow Vikings are preparing to attend a public assembly, or Thing, tomorrow. There is much work to be done before the Thing — the children must be prepared to take part!
The topics covered during the workshop include:
- A brief history of Jorvik from Roman to Viking times
- Viking culture and mythology
- The Viking lifestyle, including travel, raids, farming, family life and grooming
- How Vikings interacted with Anglo Saxons
How Do the Workshops Work?
The new workshops consist of two key elements:
- A box packed with individual activities kits for each child in your group (plus a few extra, just in case). The kits contain up to six activities, which the children can do at their own desks.
- A pre-recorded video made by our knowledgeable teachers that leads the children through the narrative and gives purpose to the activities they do along the way.
The workshops can take place in your own room at your own pace – we give you access to the video for several days, so you can rewind, replay, or break up the activities as you see fit.
Our school trials so far indicate that they can fill up to half a day.
For a small additional fee, you can also choose to add on an hour of “live” teaching time with one of our qualified teachers. This extra time, which takes place via video conferencing software, is a chance to add extra engagement to the day – the children can prepare questions, take notes from the answers, discuss artefacts and explore the materials used to make them, and generally probe further into the learning.
What Activities are Included?
As mentioned, each child will receive an activities kit to match the video. There are a few basic supplies such as PVA glue, scissors, and pencils that the school will need to provide, but otherwise the children will receive the necessary materials to make five projects:
For the Saxon workshop:
- Writing in Old English script
- Coins made of silver foil
- A draughts game set
- A woolen braid
- A fletched arrow
For the Viking workshop:
- Writing in runes
- A Thor’s hammer or Christian cross amulet made of gold foil
- A hnefatafl game set
- A woolen braid
- A clay pot
The workshop will also come with an information sheet for teachers, which will detail the learning outcomes, extra supplies that might be needed and possible follow-up learning.
How Much Does a Virtual Workshop Cost?
The pricing scheme is straightforward. We charge £300.00 for the first 30 children, plus £6.00 for each additional child (the costs are inclusive of 20% VAT, which the school can claim back.) Shipping is free.
The optional hour of video conferencing with one of our knowledgeable teachers can be purchased for an additional £60.00 (incl. 20% VAT).
How Do I Book a Workshop?
Please feel free to contact us by form, e-mail or telephone. Let us know the week you would like to use the workshop, and whether you would like the optional live teaching time, and we are happy to help.
Since the virtual workshops do not depend on our diary, there is no limit on when they can be ordered. Once full payment is received, we can turn them around and get them into schools within days. (Or they can be ordered well ahead and delivery scheduled – it is very flexible.)
Photos of the In-School Day: