What did they eat? How did they cook?

We discovered a possible answer to two more of our questions in our current guided reading book. The Neolithic people ground flour from seeds, mixed in with water to make a dough and cooked the bread on stones heated by fire. We were excited to try this in our Neolithic archaeology experiment!

It was the best bread that some of us had ever tasted even if we were a bit dirty afterwards!It must have been so much work just to make one little piece of bread!

Guided Reading: Stone Age Style!

We are looking at this book in our guided reading sessions.

We noticed that the front cover seemed to be a real stone age picture and we looked at the contents to find out more about the art of the Stone Age. They used their art to tell stories, keep their history and express themselves like we use books to now. So we had a go at telling our own Stone Age stories:

Update: Did the houses have roofs?

We returned to our experimental model houses after a few days to see if they had survived the weather. Here are our results:

Things that went well

  • The roof sticks stayed in the ground as we had made sure that they were pushed in well.
  • Some of us had used leaves to cap off the roof. These stayed on because they were spiked onto the wood.

Things that didn’t go so well

  • The grass we used had mostly blown away. It was hard to attach it to the wood.
  • Some of the houses had not been tied tight enough and came untied

Conclusion

We have decided that loose dead grass is not the way. Although the leaves worked, it might have been hard to find leaves big enough for a real sized house.

Bella-Rose found a picture of a reconstruction where they had put material over the sticks.

We also now think they put dirt over the top of this a grew grass over like this…
We are starting now to make a model of Skara Bare using our ideas.

Pictures to follow.

Did the houses have roofs?

One of our questions was about the roofs of the houses that were built into the ground. We talked about the fact that it was so long ago that much of the house may have rotted away. We looked at how they may have constructed the roofs with wood.

Now we have a design that we think will work we have constructed our own house to experiment with how they were covered. We think they may have used grass and leaves.

More updates to come.

Foraging and Gathering

Now that we have chosen to investigate our questions using experimental archaeology, we have begun to set up our site.

First, some our our archaeologists set up make shift shelters using the string and furs that the Neolithic people would have had at the time (we didn’t have furs so we used waterproof sheets!).

Meanwhile, the other investigators spent some time seeing whether it was possible to forage enough food from the surrounding area. Despite finding plenty of things we could eat, we decided that it would not last us very long.

This meant that the people of Skara Brae must have had something else that gave them food other than gathering as their ancestors did.

Questions…and Answers

We decided to categorise the questions we came up with about Skara Brae…

Questions about the houses of Skara Brae…

  • Did they have roofs?
  • Did they know how to make house they were not underground?
  • Why were the houses underground?
  • Were the houses comfortable?
  • How many builders were needed?
  • Where did they have the toilet?
  • Did the houses have doors?
  • How did they make the bricks?
  • How did they move the bricks?

Question about the Neolithic lifestyle…

  • What did they wear?
  • How did they make weapons?
  • What was the weather like?
  • How did they protect themselves?
  • What did they eat?
  • What animals were around them?
  • Did they have pets?
  • How did they cook?
  • Did they travel?

What’s next…?

We have decided to do some experimental archaeology in order to answer some of our questions. We will try to be like the Neolithic people that settled Skara Brae to find out more about how they lived their lives and why the village looks like it does now.

West Earlham Junior School
Scarnell Road, Norwich NR5 8HT

Telephone: 01603 454569
Email: office@westearlhamjunior.norfolk.sch.uk

Headteacher: Mrs Catrin Parry-Jones
School Business Manager: Mrs Beverley Savage