New Roman Leicester children’s book and art competition launch

University of Leicester book and competition to teach children about Roman Britain

A new book, Life in the Roman World: Roman Leicester, has been developed by the University of Leicester to educate children about the city’s Roman heritage, and has inspired the theme of the second Artefact to Art competition.

Inspired by recent archaeological discoveries in Leicester, the book imagines the experiences and responses of ordinary people living in the town during the four centuries of Roman rule.

It uses a combination of narrative, art and new archaeological research to explore everyday life and discusses topics like conflict, social inequality, multiculturalism, migration, diet, disease and death.

The book was written by PhD graduate, Dr Giacomo Savani and Associate Professor of Archaeology, Dr Sarah Scott, both from the University’s School of Archaeology and Ancient History, along with Mathew Morris, Project Officer at the University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS).

Mathew Morris said: “We hope the book will give children, and anyone with an interest in the city’s past, a new and exciting understanding of its rich and diverse archaeological heritage.”

As part of creating the book and associated resources, the authors worked with teachers and pupils from schools across Leicester.

Dr Scott said: “We really enjoyed working with pupils and teachers to write the book and resources. More than 1,500 pupils in Leicester schools have been introduced to life in Roman Leicester so far, and we look forward to engaging with many more schools in the New Year.”

Leicester was examined in detail because it is one of the most excavated urban centres in Britain, and the range of evidence shows us that it was a vibrant multicultural centre from its earliest phases.

The book is aimed at 11 to 18 year olds. It is also linked to a new resource for teachers entitled Life in the Roman World: Ratae Corieltavorum, Roman Leicester by Jane Ainsworth, Giacomo Savani and Katherine Taylor, which includes session plans, activities and worksheets, as well as introducing Latin in the context of the archaeology of Roman Leicester.

Leicester Classics Hub is working to support the introduction of classical subjects in state schools where there is no current provision, as well as providing a wide range of enrichment opportunities based on the world-class research of the School of Archaeology and Ancient History.

With the support of Classics for All and University of Leicester Research Impact Funding, free copies of the book will be distributed to schools in Leicester.

To coincide with the new book and classroom resource, the theme of the second Artefact to Art competition is Roman Britain. The competition is organised by the School of Archaeology and Ancient History and focuses on encouraging young people to create art inspired by material objects from classical antiquity.

Dr Naoíse Mac Sweeney, Associate Professor of Ancient History, said: “The Artefact to Art competition encourages young people to take inspiration from classical artefacts, using this inspiration to create new and innovative artworks of their own.

“As a combined School of Archaeology and Ancient History we wanted the competition to reflect the nature of the department. The Artefact to Art project, with its emphasis on the material traces of classical antiquity, emerged out of these two ambitions.”

The competition is divided into three age groups: Under 11, 11 to 14, and 15 to 18 years of age.

Children are asked to submit creative responses to ancient artefacts around the theme of Roman Britain. These can include visual art, poetry, and short stories. Poetry should be no more than 100 lines and can include spoken word, hip-hop poetry, and rap. Short stories should be no more than 1,000 words.

Winners of each category get the chance to attend a creative masterclass with a leading professional artist, poet or author.

The closing date for the Artefact to Art competition is 22 March 2019. To find out more, visit the competition website.