Read about Edinburgh University Student volunteers, Hannah and Kellian's experience at the Crannog Centre Archaeology Student Volunteers, Hannah and Kellian's experience at the Crannog Centre.
I am going into my final year studying Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh, and I really wanted to get some practical experience with elements of Iron Age society to help inform my dissertation research, and the Scottish Crannog Centre was the obvious choice. I started volunteering at the centre at the end of July and so was coming into a working community that had recently experienced a huge loss. However, coming in as a new volunteer it was inspiring to see how everyone had adapted to continue the work of sharing the Iron Age with the public. I have some previous experience shadowing tours in a museum setting but it is obviously different when you have an open-air model with lots of live demonstrations and activities. Over the course of my 3 weeks here, I have mostly switched between working in the kitchen area and the trade area, both supporting other employees and volunteers, and learning how to deliver the talks myself. Before volunteering at the centre I had never really considered Iron Age food or trade, in any depth, and so the opportunity to learn more about these areas and has been great.
One of the things that I like most about the Centre is that the focus is on aspects of an Iron Age community that doesn’t always get the same degree of attention in programmes that reach the general public. This means that it has been really rewarding to see people learn about something they have never considered and begin to think for themselves about how life was in the Iron Age. In this regard, the opportunity to deliver live demonstrations each day has been great as people often have interesting questions that make you think more about what you are talking about. This interplay between the public and members of the Crannog community can also help to drive further experimental work or research, as people can provide their own knowledge and introduce new ideas. Additionally, I have enjoyed the chance to be involved with some of the centre’s activities more specifically aimed at children. I was volunteering during the ‘Celtic Summer’ event and talked about the trade of ideas through the use of ancient board games, and of course, I can’t fail to mention the puppet show. I find it really admirable how dedicated the centre is to make sure that children can be involved in as many activities as possible, to make it easier for them to become engaged with the story of Oakbank Crannog.
Finally, I want to mention how wonderful the staff at the centre have been, coming in as a volunteer who had never visited before, I was instantly welcomed in and made to feel like part of the working community. Whether it was answering all my questions, or teaching me how to run a talk, I always felt like I could approach anyone on-site if I needed any help. Sadly my time volunteering here is nearly up, but I will definitely be making plans to come back again as soon as I can!
I still cannot quite believe it. I spent 3 weeks at the Scottish Crannog Centre. 3 weeks which equated to was 21 days of learning, 504 hours of fun, 30 240 minutes spent discovering a place where passion, dedication and an incredible will to share knowledge and experiences met. The 3 weeks went by so fast, feeling like I couldn't quite get to know everyone, yet being certain that I must have met some of the kindest souls of my whole life. I still can't quite wrap my head around how amazing everyone was from the volunteers, the staff, and the apprentices. I came to the SCC with the hope of learning how to handle a museum collection, how to interact with the public, and I came back with all this as well as an even better grasp of everything I love about archaeology and living history. Perhaps one of the best things that happened to me was the possibility to finally reunite with my friends from university, to finally be able to spend some much-deserved quality time together. I do not know enough English to explain how much these 3 weeks made me grow professionally, but I know that none of it would have been possible without the incredible staff, who spend every minute of each day making sure that the volunteers, apprentices and visitor get the best experience possible. Far from the fear I had to see the Crannog burning down, I am now filled with confidence that it will rise from its ashes and shall be born anew in Dalerb. If my hands cannot help to cut the wood of the new Crannogs, my spirit and my encouragements will be behind every effort to build the next centre. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart for these 3 weeks.