The Celts: Daily Life

Before Viewing

  • Discuss family structures with the children and the most suitable way to represent the different family members to someone who did not know who was who. Teachers might wish to use their own family, or make up a typical family. Use photographs to match to captions, e.g. ‘father’, ‘mother’, ‘grandfather’ etc and arrange in a family tree. Introduce the four characters from ‘When the Romans came to Wales’ and arrange in a similar way.
  • Locate the Iron Age/Celtic times on a class timeline and develop and introduce some key concepts of chronology. The amount of detail will be dependent on the age and ability of the children. With younger children this could be approached by using and sequencing pictures of key people from different times in the past with which the children are already familiar and discussing when they lived in relation to each person and to ourselves in the present, e.g. “Queen Victoria lived about 150 years ago, but Queen Elizabeth I lived about 450 years ago; Queen Victoria lived before us but after Queen Elizabeth I”. Having established a basic chronological structure, introduce the character of Buddug explaining that she lived about 2000 years ago. Place an image of Buddug in the correct position in relation to the other pictures. With older pupils, the same approach could be used, but the children would be able to work with more periods and people, and develop more precise time vocabulary. In addition, teachers might wish to discuss the concept of AD and BC with the children.
  • Discuss with the children the way in which we find out about a time when not very much was written down. How would we know about the people? Explain the work of an archaeologist. This can be modelled by providing some ‘clean’ rubbish from a hypothetical dustbin. What can the children discover about the family?
  • Familiarise the children with the location of the Silures and other Celtic Iron Age tribes on a map of Wales.

During the Programme

After viewing the ‘What’s the Story?’ section, explain to the children that they have been watching actors pretending to be living in the Iron Age and that the village is a modern reconstruction (in other words, the whole story is an interpretation of history). Help the children to think of some questions raised by the story, which would form the basis of further enquiries to help them understand further the idea of interpretation in history and which could form the basis of further enquiries, such as:

  • Why do we think that Celts lived in roundhouses, and not square ones?
  • How do we know what kind of clothes the Celts wore?

Ask the children to write down some of their own questions and explain that they must now listen and watch very carefully to see if we can find any answers in the rest of the programme.

After viewing

  • Review the questions, which you and the children have identified during the programme. Were the questions answered? If some questions were not answered, how might they find out more?
  • Simulate an archaeological ‘dig’ by filling an aquarium, or other suitable container with sand or potting compost and burying objects in it for the children to discover using a trowel and paintbrush. To illustrate the concept of ‘the further we dig down; the further back in time we travel’, place artefacts, such as broken pieces of flower pot, crockery and copies of coins from different times against the glass of the aquarium at different depths. Cover in different coloured layers of sand, peat, sawdust, etc to represent the different layers of soil. Talk about which are the oldest artefacts and how old they might be, based on the rule that it takes 100 years to lay down a 1cm layer of soil.
  • Check with your local museum to ascertain whether it has any Iron Age artefacts on display (a growing number of museums are developing handling collections to use with schools). The children could draw and label the artefacts and if the museum’s interpretive labels can be hidden, they could try to identify what the artefact is and its use.
  • Ask the children to write a recipe and set of instructions for making ‘Celtic’ bread. Compare with a modern recipe and methods. The same might also be done with instructions for making a ‘Celtic’ cloak.
  • Follow David Petersen’s suggestion at the end of the programme by using an Ordnance Survey map of your local area to identify Celtic hillforts. Draw a series of concentric circles at various distances from the school and plot their location and record distances from each other and from school. If possible, visit the site of a hillfort. What clues remain? Are there ditches and banks? Can their height and depth be measured and recorded? Can the children draw a plan of the site? Can they draw a picture of what they think it might have looked like in Celtic times? Find illustrations in books, museum post cards and the internet of artist’s reconstructions of hillforts and compare with the children’s versions. Is there a published plan of your local hillfort – try your library’s local history section?