Programme Outline

The programme begins in the classroom where the children meet two metal detectorists and learn of their passion for discovering history. They share their memories of when the Staffordshire Hoard was found in 2009, and invite the children to wonder what they would do if they found a treasure worth 3 million pounds. They find out what the children already know about the Anglos Saxons. They challenge the children to solve the mystery of who buried the Staffordshire Hoard and why by using their imaginations.

The drama continues in the school hall, where the children go back in time to 7th Century Mercia and are enrolled as apprentices in the workshop of Royal goldsmith Fritha, in the court of King Penda, the last great pagan warrior king of the Anglo Saxons. She needs the children to help her make gold decorations for the coronation of the new King who will be crowned now that old King Penda has died in battle. The children try out different techniques used by goldsmiths of the time, and help Fritha to choose the design for the King’s coronation Helmet.

Fritha then shares with them the story of The Dragon’s Hoard, as a warning against loving gold too much. The children help Fritha to imagine and explore the Dragon’s Lair and the gruesome death of a greedy warrior.

A mysterious stranger arrives, wanting to make a deal. He offers precious garnets for use by the goldsmiths, in return for some garnet and gold eyes, which Fritha believes to be Northumbrian. They badly need the garnets for their work, but Fritha is suspicious of the stranger and demands that he proves where the garnets came from. The stranger takes the children on a multi-sensory journey, following the stones along the trade routes over land and sea.

The children learn about the making of swords and their significance, naming their own as the Anglo Saxons did, before experiencing the training of a young warrior.

The stranger reveals that the garnet and gold eyes were taken from the King of Northumbria by King Penda. The stranger wants to return them to the North to restore the King’s honour. He reveals that he is Christian, so Fritha and he debate the right and wrongs of the recent battle of Winwaed between the Christian Northumbrians and the Pagan Mercians. The children become soldiers on opposing sides.

Things come to a head when the stranger demands the eyes once more, and Fritha seeks the children’s advice about whether she should make the deal with him. In so doing, they explore the significance of the treasure and the identity of the stranger.

The children return to the classroom, where one of the detectorists has exciting news for them. There is funding for a team to investigate the mystery of the Staffordshire Hoard, and the children can join that team. They continue their investigations using the digital resources tool – Prospero.

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Aims & Objectives

AIM: To explore the human stories behind the mystery of the Staffordshire Hoard


  • To create a rich dramatic environment which brings alive life in Anglo Saxon Mercia
  • To provoke a debate about cultural identity
  • To develop childrens’ skills as historians.

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Curriculum Links


During Buried History, the children will investigate:

  • Britain’s settlement by the Anglo Saxons
  • Anglo Saxon invasions, settlements and kingdoms: place names and village life
  • Anglo Saxon Art and Culture
  • Christian conversion

And the children will develop skills in:

  • local and world history
  • connecting between events
  • formulating historically valid questions about change, cause, similarity, difference and significance


English – (knowledge, skills and understanding)

During the drama the children will be actively involved in:

  • Asking relevant questions to extend their understanding and knowledge
  • Building their vocabulary
  • Articulating and justifying answers, arguments and opinions
  • Expressing their feelings
  • Collaborative conversations
  • Speculating, hypothesising, imagining and exploring
  • Role play, performance and debate
  • Considering and evaluating different viewpoints



In Buried History, the children will explore:

Spiritual – the beliefs and experience of the Anglo Saxons, including Christianity and Paganism. They will be encouraged to respect faiths, feelings and values, and use their imaginations to experience and reflect on how they feel about themselves, others and the surrounding world.

Moral – consequences, investigate moral and ethical issues and offer reasoned views.

Social – moral issues; appreciate diverse viewpoints, participate, volunteer and cooperate.

Cultural – cultural influences, and understand, accept, respect and celebrate diversity.

Geography – Key stage 2

Taking part in Buried History will give the pupils the opportunity to:

  • Extend their knowledge and understanding beyond their local area to include the United Kingdom and Europe.
  • Locate counties and cities of the United Kingdom, geographical regions and their identifying human and physical characteristics, key features and understand how some of these aspects have changed over time.
  • Identify types of settlement and land use, economic activity including trade links, and the distribution of natural resources including energy, food, minerals and water.

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Buried History has been created in partnership by:

Paul Sutton and Max Allsup for C&T
Juliet Fry, Luke Elliott and Rachel Gartside for The Play House
Designed by Dawn Allsopp

Music and Sound composed and produced by Gerry Smith

Thanks to: Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. With thanks to the Learning and Access team, especially Team Leader Tom Dipple and Edward Thomas.

Theresa Heskins Artistic Director of the New Vic Theatre for inspiring us and to all the team at The Birmingham REP who have been so generous with their resources and expertise.

Birmingham Musuems white C&T Logo

Supported by

Arts Council Logo white barry_jackson_logo

WA Cadbury Trust, Edward Cadbury Trust, Saintbury Trust, John Feeney Trust, GJW Turner Trust


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Buried History  is an exciting participatory drama for children in Years 3 and 4 that uses story telling theatre to bring to life Anglo Saxon history and the human experiences behind the mystery of the Staffordshire Hoard. Discovered by chance in a Staffordshire field, the hoard is the largest cache of Anglo Saxon gold and silver ever found. The largest part of the Hoard is on permanent display at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Buried History invites the children to speculate about how and why it came to be buried and who it belonged to. The programme does not offer a solution to the mystery, but opens up possibilities to fire the children’s imaginations.

In addition to the drama, digital specialists C&T have created an accessible and dynamic classroom resource using Prospero, C&T’s online arts facilitation tool. In Prospero, teachers and children can extend the investigation inspired by the drama, through six, interactive, half-hour digital lessons. In these learning sequences, children will meet and interact with characters who will facilitate their further investigation of this archaeological whodunit.

In the drama the children travel back in time to the 7th Century, when the powerful Kingdom of Mercia was engaged in battles over territory between Christians and Pagans. It is during this volatile time that it is believed that the Staffordshire Hoard was buried. The children, in role as goldsmiths, will learn how the gold artefacts were made, enact the battles of the time, experience the tensions of cultural change and meet characters who may hold the key to the mystery.

Buried History provides teachers with a dynamic visual and linguistic stimulus to support their teaching of History, Literacy and SMSC. We hope teachers will find exciting opportunities for developing their own active teaching, offering specific transferable skills and techniques that can be used in the classroom.



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