East End schoolkids get the real Roman London experience

Rifayat Ali, 8, on the battlements at Lullingstone Castle

Rifayat Ali, 8, on the battlements at Lullingstone Castle - Credit: C Jackson school

Teachers took pupils from aged seven to 11 on a Celtic and Roman history trip because “the real thing” is better than getting it from books.

The youngsters from Cyril Jackson Primary at Limehouse in London’s East End visited Lullingstone Villa in Kent, one of the most outstanding surviving Roman villas in Britain that dates from around AD 300.

They were able to see how wealthy Romans lived and furnished their homes, including spectacular mosaics, rare wall paintings and heated baths.

This was followed by a visit to the pre-Roman Oldbury Hill Fort, one of the finest Iron Age forts in the Medway, with substantial earth ramparts two miles long.

“Kids have limited opportunity in this area of the East End to experience these places,” said the school’s Toby de Ville Shaw. “Actually looking round a real Roman villa and climbing on an ancient Celtic hill fort enhances their learning experiences—which you can’t get from a book.”

They learned how the Romans lived and furnished their homes and how they managed to have heated baths and under-floor heating nearly 2,000 years ago.

But it didn’t stop there. The school later organised a history experience where Year 3 was transported 20 centuries back in time to get a taste of Roman life. Mosaics were created for a villa and Latin and Roman numerals were used in writing and numeracy tasks.

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Children dressed as soldiers and undertook marching practice in the playground, followed by a banquet of authentic foods to learn about Roman London as part of the school’s ‘living curriculum’.

The additional activities for gifted and talented youngsters was organised by specialist teacher David Read, who arrived bearing his legs as a Roman Centurion.