Hands-on ‘archaeology’ for kids

Children in the Roman Baths Clore Learning Centre, Photographer James Newton

Part of the Roman Bath’s ‘Archway Project’ was completed with the opening of the World Heritage Centre.

Now comes news of the completion of the rest of this multi-million-pound enterprise with the opening – on June 16th – of the  Roman Baths Clore Learning Centre ­– a new, state-of-the-art Learning Centre. It is already taking bookings for the autumn term.

A former Victorian spa laundry building, along with an area of Roman remains beneath street level, have been sensitively renovated to create a new Learning Centre that will allow pre-booked school and community groups to learn about history and heritage in a hands-on and accessible way.

  • Learn amongst the remains of one of the great sites of the ancient world
  • Have a go at being an archaeologist! Excavate your own finds in a new underground Investigation Zone surrounded by real Roman remains
  • Handle real artefacts and walk on the pavements where Romans walked 2,000 years ago
Children in the Roman Baths Clore Learning Centre, Photographer James Newton

A highlight of the Clore Learning Centre is a pioneering new learning space called the Investigation Zone  an atmospheric underground environment set amidst real Roman remains. Here, children will be able to explore, investigate and record archaeological materials in a hands-on way, becoming mini-archaeologists and mini-curators as they participate in learning sessions amongst real Roman archaeology.

The floors above contain two stunning new learning spaces. The Sulis room is geared towards primary school groups, with photos of Roman characters on the walls and views across the street to the Roman Baths. The Minerva room is a flexible space that can be used for a variety of activities – from gathering around large tables for a handling session to sitting theatre-style to watch a presentation.

The Clore Learning Centre offers stress-free school visits, with new facilities including a lunchroom inspired by the laundry’s former Water Tank, a designated coach drop-off point, and an underground tunnel which will create a dramatic, direct route from the Learning Centre into the Roman Baths.

Teachers can choose from a range of inspirational teaching sessions and activities, with opportunities to handle Roman objects from the museum’s collection and investigate historical sources. The sessions are closely linked to the National Curriculum and cover subjects such as Roman bathing, religion and belief, Latin language, and life in Roman Britain.

Councillor Kevin Guy, Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “We’re really looking forward to welcoming school children and local community groups into the Roman Baths Clore Learning Centre. Once established, about 15,000 people per year are expected to use the Centre. The amazing new, purpose-built facilities will greatly improve the quality of their visit to the Roman Baths.”

Lindsey Braidley, Learning and Participation Manager at the Roman Baths, added: “Learning outside the classroom is an essential part of children’s education. Studies have shown that cultural trips significantly improve the health and wellbeing of students – something that, after successive lockdowns and reduced access to trips, is more essential than ever.”

The offer for schools will be complemented by a vibrant community engagement programme, which will build new relationships with local community groups, and offer student placements, apprenticeships, and volunteering opportunities. Outreach events will allow a wider range of people to engage with the unique history and heritage on their doorstep.

The Clore Learning Centre is part of the Archway Project, supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund thanks to National Lottery players, which also includes a brand-new Bath World Heritage Centre and a new Roman Gym at the Roman Baths.

Stuart McLeod, Director, England – London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “We’re delighted to see the Roman Baths Clore Learning Centre open. Thanks to National Lottery players, school groups will be able to engage and connect with the history of Bath in a new way. They can discover more about its rich heritage through hands-on learning, and walk through Roman archaeology in real life. This experiential learning will be very memorable to these young historians and offer a glimpse into the fascinating history of this World Heritage Site.”

The Clore Learning Centre is kindly supported by Clore Duffield Foundation, the Garfield Weston Foundation and The Roman Baths Foundation.

Kate Bellamy, Director, Clore Duffield Foundation, said: “We are delighted to support the new Clore Learning Centre at the Roman Baths. It will bring Roman history to life, provide an inspirational day out for all the children who visit, and enthuse the next generation of historians.”

For more information, please visit www.romanbaths.co.uk/schools.