Historic Scotland Placement: Dunfermline Abbey and Beyond

Posted by in Education & Outreach, Placement, Uncategorized

I have now been on placement with Historic Scotland for over 5 weeks working under the supervision of the Central Region Learning and Development Officer (LDO), Fiona Davidson. Whilst I have had the opportunity to visit a wide range of Historic Scotland properties, the main site of my placement is Dunfermline Abbey and Palace. Born and bred in Dunfermline this has been a wonderful opportunity to get to know my local site better and to get further involved with local heritage, focusing on heritage education.

Dunfermline Abbey. Copyright M.Beattie

Dunfermline Abbey. Image copyright M.Beattie

Door of nave. Image copyright, M.Beattie

Door of nave. Image copyright, M.Beattie

My placement has thus far largely consisted of shadowing various education activities across sites such as Stanley Mills, Aberdour Castle and Dunfermline Abbey. Shadowing (and often helping to set up) these sessions has given me a brilliant insight into the types of education programmes run by Historic Scotland as well as enabling me to learn some of the tricks of the trade for delivering such sessions. I have also had the opportunity to gain some insight into the responsibilities of Fiona’s job as an LDO and two weeks ago I was also given the chance to meet with Jane Gaze, one of the Local Learning Officers based at Melrose in the South region. This was not only useful in terms of learning about her job role, but Jane also developed the Abbey Life handling box (which I am focusing the rest of my placement on), so it was great to hear from her about what she had achieved using this resource and how she would suggest using it.

View of Abbey Nave from refectory window. Copyright Historic Scotland

View of Abbey Nave from refectory window. Image copyright Historic Scotland

In the last few weeks I have also begun to consult with primary schools in  a five mile radius of Dunfermline Abbey in order to try and determine why many are not making use of this free resource right on their doorstep. So far I have created a survey which has been sent out to all primary schools within a five mile radius of Dunfermline, which should hopefully provide us with some valuable feedback. Within the survey I am also offering the opportunity for a free Continuing Personal Development (CPD) session with teachers and a free, facilitated handling box session for classes at the end of June. As part of our placement we are to develop and deliver our own activity and I am choosing to concentrate mine on the Abbey Life Handling Box available at Dunfermline Abbey. Whilst I wait with baited breath for responses to my survey I will be working on content for possible activities which I can deliver using this resource.

Objects from Medieval Abbey Life Handling Box. Image copyright, Historic Scotland.

Objects from Medieval Abbey Life Handling Box. Image copyright, Historic Scotland.

At the beginning of this week I was given the chance to deliver a short Victorian Mill Workers activity at Stanley Mills. I delivered two sessions but as they were only 35 minutes each, this opportunity was the perfect way to ease me in to delivering activities to primary schools classes. I really enjoyed myself and think it was generally well received by my audience (aged 9-10).

So far the placement has been an invaluable insight into the world of heritage education and I am really looking forward to the coming weeks, getting even more involved, delivering activities and promoting developing activities at Dunfermline Abbey.