Hands-on experience in Ancient Civilisations

By Chris Grocock, Teacher of Classics

Block 4’s Ancient Civilisations class had a hands-on experience during a rare sunny spell this week, when they tried to replicate the methods which were probably used by the Ancient Egyptians to lay out the base of the Great Pyramid.

It is less than 0.05 degrees off true north, apparently, and its sides do not vary by more than 5 centimetres in their total length of 230 metres! So, how was it done?

Well, with sticks (or in our case, pencils) and string, and a lot of patience. There was a great sense of teamwork and a bit of fun in the open air as well as a practical appreciation of just how impressive – and patient – the ancient monument builders were!

Block 4 visit to Avebury, West Kennett and Stonehenge

By Chris Grocock, Teacher of Classics

To complement what we can learn in class and from books and the internet, the ‘Famous Five’ who make up this year’s Ancient Civilisations BAC cohort visited the neolithic – and now World Heritage – sites of Avebury Stone Circle, West Kennett Long Barrow and Stonehenge itself.

The weather held fair – well, mostly – but the opportunities to ‘connect’ with these extraordinary monuments constructed 4,500 years ago were seized to the full! All the sites provoked thought and deep reaction – one student commented “I found it interesting that people put the rocks there and we don’t know why”. Stonehenge itself provoked mixed reactions, from “smaller than I thought” to “bigger than I expected”!

At Avebury, there were several expressions of making a ‘spiritual connection’ with the place, especially at a tree marked with ribbons by New Age devotees. Perhaps the most memorable experience was ‘being spooked’ by going into a 5,000-year-old tomb at West Kennett, and then eating lunch on top of it, with vistas spreading all around and fine views of Silbury Hill.