Sunderland pupils investigate Roman murder mystery

Hastings Hill event
Hastings Hill event
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A GRISLY secret at a Roman fort has inspired primary school pupils to create characters and write their own murder mystery stories.

Up to 50 pupils from Hasting Hill Academy, in Thorney Close, visited Housesteads Roman fort, on Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland.

They took part in an interactive activity based around the 1930s discovery of two skeletons under the floor of a Roman shop.

It is assumed they are murder victims, and the children were given some storyline starters, brief outlines of characters that may have lived there in Roman times, and have followed it up by writing stories and poetry, creating characters through role play and producing large art murals.

Today, they will have a celebration assembly to share their experience with fellow pupils and parents before having the chance to showcase their work at an event in Northumberland’s Belsay Hall on November 29 alongside other projects involving schools and the heritage sector.

The project was initiated by Bridge North East, which helps to get young people involved in art, culture and media in the region and will result in the school getting a Discovery Level Arts Award.

It was led by Sheena Harrison, a member of the English Heritage site team at Housesteads Roman Fort, and Hasting Hill teaching staff Amanda Bell, Nichola Crosby and Jane Virabi.

Amanda said: “This was a unique opportunity to bring history to life. Hasting Hill Academy is an inner-city school and most of the children had never been to Northumberland.

“The Murder Mystery hooked the children’s, as well as our own, creative imagination, which led to accelerated learning about the Romans and their interaction within the local area.

“There was a buzz in the classroom, which inspired them to up-level their work and create outstanding piece of art work and creative writing.”

Helen Green, head of Bridge North East, said: “This project, is a great example of how schools engage with museums and heritage organisations in the region.

“Sheena, Amanda and everyone involved have inspired the youngsters at Hasting Hill Academy to take something from our history and turn it into pieces of creative writing that bring the Roman Fort to life.

“Museums and heritage organisations in the North East successfully engage with schools already and provide a great offer for children and young people, but they are less confident about developing Arts Award projects.”