This month a group of budding historians from Pen Y Bryn came to Swansea University to visit the Richard Burton Archives and the Egypt Centre. Their visit began with half of the pupils visiting the archives and while the others worked in the library researching the history of Longfields Association.
Katrina and Sue from Richard Burton Archives made us all feel very welcome and their enthusiasm was mirrored by the pupils! Richard Burton’s ‘book bag’ was the cause of much debate. How many books could fit in there? Would the bag be too big to take on a plane as hand luggage today? Some pupils were very interested to read Richard Burton’s diary, written when he was aged 14 and living at the home of his sister in Taibach, Port Talbot. They were struck by how his school days were disrupted by war time air raids.
It was great to see ‘behind the scenes’ at the archives and to learn about some of the conditions which have to be met in order to preserve historical documents. Pupils had a good time discovering the past through the selection of historical documents on show.
After lunch, eaten in Fulton House refectory, it was time to visit the Egypt Centre where we had a warm welcome. The staff and volunteers had arranged several activities for the pupils. The art of mummification was discovered with pupils working on the ‘dummy mummy’ to prepare it for mummification.
They discovered the importance of food and drink to ancient Egyptians in the afterlife and designed their own offerings using play dough. They also made food and drink containers modelled on ancient artifacts in the display case, then learnt about an ancient Egyptian spell to ‘bring the food to life’.
There was a chance to learn the story of the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb and explore the House of Life gallery, looking at the variety of objects on display, before choosing one to talk about to other pupils in their group. Time went by so quickly and it was back to the bus for pupils to return to Pen Y Bryn.
A thank you to Richard Burton Archives and the Egypt Centre for their generous welcome, it is very much appreciated. Also many thanks to the the teachers for enabling the pupils to come and visit Swansea University. Of course, a big thank you to the pupils of Pen Y Bryn for your enthusiasm and participation in the day.
I am looking forward to our next adventure in West Glamorgan Archives!