Story of the Civil War in the North East

“Belta, Mint and Enjoyable” were the words used by one Year 8 student to describe their experience at our Civil War Celebration Day at Tynemouth Priory on 22 June. The day saw the culmination of a year’s activities between ourselves, four local schools, four academic schools, English Heritage and heritage professionals that was inspired by our 17th century collections here at Newcastle University Special Collections. Whilst involving numerous partners at heart the project was about inspiring Year 8 students to engage with History, the University and their local heritage in a fun and innovative way.

With £9,927 of Heritage Lottery Funding the project enabled the education outreach staff from Newcastle University Special Collections to work with all Year 8 students across four local schools on four different school disciplines. Each school would work with an academic to gain a deeper knowledge and different perspective of their subject. Following which 30 students from each school would be chosen to represent their school at the celebration day kindly hosted by English Heritage at Tynemouth Priory and showcase the work they had completed.

The following schools were involved.

Bedlington Community Hight School – Food Technology

Year 8 Food Technology students from Bedlingtonshire Community High School visited our Special Collections to see our 17th century recipe book. They transcribed the recipe and then went to the University kitchens to bake the recipes.

“It was great to see the link spreading initially from the library but them drawing in expertise from across the university. Engaging with schools, even within this age group, is essential for the University. We need to be more proactive in schools’ engagement and this project is an excellent example of how this can be successfully achieved.”

-Professor Chris Seal

“Today was awesome!”

-Bedlington Year 8 student

They even got to be on TV!

Kenton School – History

Year 8 History students from Kenton School completed two workshops to find out about the Civil War and Tynemouth Priory and the role it played in the Civil War. On day one they visited the University to see the original resources which inspired the whole project before visiting the School of History to enjoy a lecture delivered by Dr Rachel Hammersley.

Upon returning to the Philip Robinson Library they used the original sources to research and write a pop up museum informing all about the Civil War.

“Just seeing the Kenton pupils so excited about their pop-up-museum and hearing them talk authoritatively to visitors and other pupils about the Civil War in the North East.” Civil War in the North East.”

-Dr Rachel Hammersley – favourite part of the day

“Making the pop up museum because I learnt about what happened in the Civil War”

-Year 8 student

On Day two the students visited Tynemouth Priory to have a guided tour around the English Heritage property given by Dr Rachel Hammersley and the Education Officer for the North East at English Heritage. They then took photos, gathered information and thought about what would make an interesting trail. Upon returning to the Marjorie Robinson Library Rooms they created their own trails which other students would then enjoy at the celebration day.

Many of the students remarked about how much they had enjoyed the celebration day as they could see everyone reading their museum or completing the trails.

“Doing the trails because it showed all my hard work paid off”

-Year 8 student

“Designing the trails and seeing the students go round enjoying themselves has been my favourite part of today”

-Mandy Marsh (History teacher)

“All of the children I engaged with today were clearly extremely proud of the work they had done and spoke about it articulately and with confidence.”

-Dr Rachel Hammersley

“It was a great day and the students really enjoyed it. It was good to see all the hard work and the collaboration end with such an enjoyable time.”

-Mandy Marsh (History teacher)

Longbenton High School – English and Drama

The Education Outreach team worked with Tracy Gilman, drama practitioner from the School of English to deliver drama and creative writing workshops to all Year 8 students at Longbenton High School. We then invited the chosen 30 students to the University for a drama workshop.

They spent time interviewing the Time Bandits (Historical re-enactment group) to find out about life in the 17th century. The remaining time was spent writing, editing and rehearsing the play they would eventually perform to all at the celebration day at Tynemouth Priory.

“Liked going to the University as it was fun”

-Year 8 student

“The trip to the university was a very special opportunity for a number of the group whose family have not attended university. They enjoyed being taught in the building and feeling ‘grown up’. A number definitely felt inspired to return!”

-Clare Campbell (English teacher)

The Longbenton students did an amazing job and wowed all with the play that they delivered to all students, teachers, academics, family and public!

“Our students had a fantastic time today and we were so proud of them! Especially as many of them are not the usual students to become involved in events like this – we were amazed at their confidence.”

-Clare Campbell (English teacher)

“The play got to show people our hard work”

-Year 8 student

Monkseaton Middle School – Science

Year 8 science students from Monkseaton Middle School studied our fantastic Medicine through Time resources on Pare and Vesalius to find out about treatments for gunshot wounds in the past. This was brought full circle when they went to the University science labs to find out about blood loss and how infection would be treated now and the use of antibiotics and antiseptics.

“Blood clotting […] was very interesting”

-Year 8 student

At the celebration day we were all able to try out the blood clotting experiments they had developed and find out how dirty our hands are with UV torches!

“It gave the pupils the confidence to talk to others about the project.”

-Gillian Whitmell (Science teacher)

“I was really pleased that the students were keen to get involved showcasing the practical itself. We had to do very little in terms of instructing the students. They were very motivated.”

-Dr Lindsey Ferrie

For more information about the services offered by the University Library Education Outreach Team please visit our website: