The Vikings come to Ballagh School

We would like to sincerely thank Roscommon County Council who provided funding for a visit from Heritage in Schools Expert, David Swift.    Dave Swift has been working in Ireland as a field-archaeologist since 1999. As founder of Living History & Re-enactment group ‘Claíomh’ he has been involved in Irish historic recreation work for more than 20 years taking part in events in Iceland, Italy, England, Scotland, Denmark and Sweden as well as in Ireland. Dave often gives lectures and demonstrations at the National Museum of Ireland, the Royal Irish Academy, OPW heritage sites, Irish Walled Towns Network Festivals, Third Level Institutions and Local Historical Societies. He has several television and film credits working variously as armourer, historical advisor, fight choreographer, props supplier, wardrobe assistant and actor. Recent projects compose a diverse range including ‘GPO Witness History’, ‘Medieval Dead’ (Series 3, Episode 4: ‘Gallowglass: Warlords Of Ireland’) and supplying uniforms to TG4’s 1916 comedy ‘Wrecking The Rising’.

During Dave’s school visit to Ballagh National School, Irish archaeology was animated for the children as they experienced an engaging demonstration on domestic and military life during a given historical period as chosen by the school. Approximately 100 artefacts were displayed in the classroom turning the school into a veritable museum for the day! These items ranged from swords and Viking jewellery to a range of medieval helmets. We choose the  historical time frame of  Viking Age Ireland: from the first recorded raid to the arrival of the Normans

During the session students were introduced to the fashions, military attire, weaponry, coinage and folklore/beliefs of the chosen historical period. Children got to inspect this unique collection of original and/or faithfully reproduced artefacts with their own hands. All reconstructions presented were thoroughly researched and are made to the highest international museum-grade standards – there is no skimping on quality! Traditional crafts and materials examined by the students include those derived of metal, leather, wood, glass, ceramic, antler, bone and horn.

A lively historical narrative was given throughout the session explaining the major characters, social conditions and customs of the time.

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