• York Rotary

Archaeology for Everyone – New Ideas to Engage People in our Past

Graham W reports..

On January 7th, we heard Sarah Maltby’s zoom presentation on the ways in which the York Archaeological Trust was bringing archaeology into the community.

Sarah’s 35 years in the attractions business, ranged from being an enabler at the Eureka Museum in Halifax, through to her present role as Director of Attractions for the Trust. When the Trust’s Jorvik Viking Centre and its other attractions were closed due to the Covid pandemic, her width of experience gave her the opportunity to be innovative in the ways that archaeology’s educational message could be delivered - an opportunity she grabbed with both hands.

Delivering over 400 online presentations – "Virtual Vikings" - to schools throughout the UK and beyond, at a time when she and her staff were themselves coping with the pandemic, was remarkable. The need to run the popular annual Viking Festival on-line was a challenge but was met with Sarah’s usual enthusiasm and can-do approach to bringing archaeology to a wider audience.

Taking over an empty city-centre shop and shop window to provide a museum quality display, available to passers-by 24 hours a day - showed great initiative and has potential for pop-up displays elsewhere.

Who would have thought of Archaeology on Prescription – but the therapeutic effect for some, from getting involved in archaeological investigations is proving to be of great benefit to those in need of stimulation.

Expanding the range of the Trust’s touring exhibitions to meet increased demand across the UK and offering archaeological walks were further examples of how to turn the restrictions imposed by the pandemic into new opportunities.

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