Longstone PS Heritage Heroes Primary 4 and 5s from Longstone Primary School in Edinburgh have become Archaeology Scotland’s first ever Heritage Heroes as the result of a series of workshops investigating the history of the Union Canal with Scottish Waterways Trust.

Our Canal Officer for Cultural Heritage, Gemma, has been working with two classes since November, exploring the history and heritage of the 193-year old waterway and recently visited the school with Archaeology Scotland to present every pupil with a certificate under a new awards scheme designed to encourage young people to engage with their local history.

We started our project in the classroom, investigating the history of the canal and the local area by looking at old maps and photographs and exploring what the canal was built for and what it was like in its 19th century hey-day. The students handled real artefacts from our Heritage Box that were excavated from the historic waterways and we thought about how the pots and objects might have found themselves at the bottom of a canal. The school is right next to the canal so next we headed out on a canal trip to see for ourselves some of the fascinating features to be found on the towpaths, comparing what we found to our historic maps. Heritage Heroes are encouraged to share what they’ve learned and in between sessions with the Trust the class teachers worked hard with the classes to create fantastic canal maps, poems and leaflets promoting the canal.

You can watch a short video about this project on our website at: http://scottishwaterwaystrust.org.uk/longstone-primary-heritage-heroes/

We attended and exhibited at Built Environment Forum Scotland’s Heritage & Diversity event in Edinburgh on 9 March. This was a very interesting conference considering how we can broaden engagement in heritage and better communicate the messages about the benefits heritage can offer people. It was a world café style event so there were various roundtables each with representatives from a ‘hard to reach’ group such as young people and refugee groups. We moved around the tables talking to each group about their work and how they engage with heritage. An illustrator captured the day with quick cartoons, which was an unusual way to record the event.