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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.

Buried History Front

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