It’s been a busy month for the NAT100 project team pulling together all the different strands for the centenary exhibition, so rather than an insight from the archive, this month we’re sharing some of the work the Norwich Young Archaeologists’ Club (NYAC) have been undertaking to help curate part of the NAT100 exhibition.

The Young Archaeologists Club (YAC) is the only UK wide club where 8-16 year olds can participate in real archaeology and discover why it matters. Norwich YAC meet once a month to learn about Norwich and Norfolk’s past in fun, simple ways. With the help of their Branch Leader Sophie Cabot, we devised a 5 month programme of activities for the group to learn more about NAT’s history and sites, and also skills in exhibition curation. The young people are working towards their Heritage Hero awards which for bronze involves spending 15hrs on a project and Silver 30hrs.

As with any exhibition the starting point is research and understanding the subject. In October half term the NYAC young people spent the day at the Norfolk Record exploring items from the NAT archive, finding out about NAT sites, plus a behind the scenes tour of the Record Office, and started to look at the exhibition space that was available to them in the Long Gallery, and the themes they would like to cover. The next day they visited the Castle Museum, searching the display cases to see if there were any artefacts which were found at NAT sites. They found lots from Caistor Roman Town, but also loved seeing the watercolour of St Benet’s Abbey in the Fine Art galleries. In the afternoon they viewed some of the Norwich Museum Service artefacts that had been earmarked for the NAT100 exhibition. The small toy gun which was found at Burgh Castle inspired them to decide that one of their themes for the exhibition would be ‘children and NAT sites’.

On a very wet and windy day in November, the group braved the elements to visit St Benet’s Abbey. NAT volunteer tour guides Marion and Barry showed the young people and their parents around the site. The young people loved the stories of ghosts and spies! For our December session, held in their normal meeting place at Norwich cathedral, it was down to work planning in detail the content that the young people were going to put in the display cases. They settled on the themes of explaining who Norwich YAC are, young people and NAT sites and NAT sites in the World Wars. Whilst they were doing some of the research they found out that on that very day in 1940 a bomb had landed near the cathedral, what a coincidence!

There’s lots more to come in the New Year; finishing writing the interpretation text early in January, and visiting Caistor Roman Town in February to meet our NAT director and the Rural Crime Officer to understand how NAT sites are managed and looked after. February half term will be all about promotion so hopefully there will be a NYAC take over of our social media channels!

Come and see the fruition of the young people’s hard work when the NAT 100 exhibition opens at Norfolk Record Office on Tuesday 6th February, running until Friday 31st May 2024.