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Planning outreach events and activities

December 5, 2010

PEACE Logo, by Matt Law


On Wednesday we hosted a training workshop for postgraduate students at Cardiff University called PEACE (Postgraduate Environmental Archaeology and Community Engagement).  A number of speakers – inlucing me – spoke about their experiences with outreach events, and shared pointers to getting started. I thought it would be a good idea to share some of the points that came out of the talks, and invite comments…

General points

– Make a plan – think about who the participants are, the different ways in which people learn, how long you want the activity or event to be, and what you want people to remember (Charnley).

– There are distinct age groups to think about – early years, 7-11, 12-16, young people, students, families, adults and senior citizens (Charnley). It’s ok to work with the group you’re most comfortable with (Crimp).

– Engagement  is a two-way process. You should think of the group you’re working with as participants or contributors, not an audience (Wyatt).

Giving talks or writing text

– Don’t have more than three aims or ‘take home messages’ (Charnley).

– If you are designing an activity or a talk, practise it – preferably with someone in your target group (Charnley).

– Begin your talk with a hook to provoke interest (Charnley). If you’re leading an activity, this could be a question to build from (‘Do you know what an archaeologist does?’) (Crimp). You could start with the tool you most often use (in my case a trowel), and ask the group to guess what you do and build on from there (Crimp).

– Keep it short (Charnley).

– Use it the active voice, it’s much more interesting to read/listen to (Charnley).

– Don’t leave the best for last (Charnley).

Planning activities

– Environmental archaeology-based activities can be reasonably easy to organise, and compared to fieldwork, post-excavation activities have few health and safety considerations. They are very inclusive (Law).

-Some groups will like it if you walk around between groups to see how they’re getting on – giving them some autonomy, others will prefer it if somebody sits with them the whole time and discuss their ideas (Jones and Best).


Dr Jacqui Mulville (Cardiff University)

Dr David Wyatt (Cardiff University)

Heidi Dawson (University of Bristol)

Jennifer Jones and Julia Best (Cardiff University)

Matt Law (Cardiff University)

Ciara Charnley (Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum of Wales)

Tina Crimp (Techniquest, Cardiff)


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