Geography

Activities

Dig to Discover – Become an Archaeologist for the day

Dig to Discover – Become an Archaeologist for the day

Archaeologists act very much as investigators or forensic scientists, searching for and studying any remaining clues in the landscape that can help us re-construct humanity’s development through history.
The profession developed from an interest in antiquarianism in the 19th century, through the influence of academically minded travellers like Augustus Pitt Rivers and the 18th Century antiquarian Bryan Fausseett. Pitt Rivers methodical and analytical approach paid attention to the chronology of any finds, heavily influenced by the newly published ‘The Theory of Evolution’ by Charles Darwin.
Pitt Rivers practised and honed his early archaeological techniques locally, making investigative digs into the ancient hill sites around Folkestone e.g. Castle Hill. The skills-building that happened during this early work led on to very ambitious archaeological expeditions to Egypt. Here he made major historic discoveries in the Valley of the Kings that led his professional successors to discover the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in 1921.
Archaeological practice has since developed with the aid of technology, with new sites often being found using aerial photography and scanning techniques. Now much site information can be gleamed even without making a dig.
Look around you and imagine what it was like 100 years ago, 1000 years ago, or even 10000 years ago.

This activity is available at the following locations:

Land Ahoy – Be a Navigator for the Day

Land Ahoy – Be a Navigator for the Day

On a clear day you can see France from the White Cliffs of Dover, some 21 miles away. The first successful aeroplane flight across the English Channel was done in 1909, but on a cloudy day with limited visibility. Frenchman Louis Bleriot managed the journey without a compass, using sightings of ships below in the sea, to act as pointers to Dover. In 1930 Amy Johnson also flew over the Channel, becoming the first female solo pilot to make a successful flight from London to Australia. She only managed to navigate such a vast and intrepid journey by calling on all her skills of map interpretation, compass reading and shear resourcefulness.
Through the course of the day, see how resourceful you can be in working out which way is north without using a compass.

This activity is available at the following locations:

Heroes of the Goodwin Sands – Be a Coastguard for the Day

Heroes of the Goodwin Sands – Be a Coastguard for the Day

Over the centuries, mariners using the English Channel have needed to be able to read the changing moods of the sea, understanding when and where its force might be a danger to their sailing vessels. Unfortunately the most destructive conditions for the ships could be the best of friends for salvagers, and reading the coast well could bring bountiful rewards.
As sea trading increased through the 18th century so did the need to protect any ships from coming to grief on the coast, through bad weather and wreckers. Additionally there was a growing illegal trade in importing, or smuggling goods into the country, without customs payments being made to the Crown. From these needs came the birth of the Coastguard.
Read the weather, head for the coast, and see what you can save or salvage…

This activity is available at the following locations:

The Shipping Forecast – Be a Meteorologist for the Day

The Shipping Forecast – Be a Meteorologist for the Day

Weather reports from the Dover coastal weather logging station are broadcast daily on BBC Radio 4, playing a crucial role in warning mariners using the English Channel and South coast of dangerous sailing conditions. You may have heard Dover mentioned as part of the radio transmission sequence – Fair Isle, Viking, Cromarty, Forties?

Unbeknownst to most people, just down the road near Castle Hill Folkestone, is the remains of a rather more secretive and austere ‘weather’ observation station. During the Cold War an underground station was built to potentially house 3 dedicated ‘meteorologists’, should Nuclear War break out. Their job would have been to report a very different kind of weather – announcing any visible nuclear explosion sightings, alongside the wind direction and wind speed – helping to predict any following fall-out that would then blow across the Channel to Britain.

This activity is available at the following locations:

Walk in Darwin’s Footsteps

Walk in Darwin’s Footsteps

The Up on the Downs coast is rich in both fossils and unusual plants, each able to offer evidence and clues to the changing make-up of the local environment, touching different times in the Earth’s history. But to stand a chance of finding these markers and then interpreting their clues, one needs the skills of a good detective.
Victorian naturalist Charles Darwin regularly visited the White Cliffs to study the fossils exposed in the face of the cliffs. His observations of the varying fossil forms, related to their locations in the strata, helped him to formulate his world-changing theory of evolution and natural selection.

This activity is available at the following locations:

What’s Under Your Feet?

What’s Under Your Feet?

Earth is the only planet in the solar system to be able to support life as far as we know, and has been able to do so for the last 3000 million years. During this time the living environment (or biosphere) has survived because of the intricate balance of relationships between the land, water and atmosphere.
Today the biosphere is being studied by environmental scientists across the world, and as the relationships become more understood, humanity is becoming more responsible for our own influences. We are able to observe and research collectively, and are beginning to respond with confidence to threats such as global warming, and the growing loss of biodiversity across the planet.
The chalk coastline of the North Downs is one of the world’s rarest of habitats, with unique conditions and ecosystems. See what you can discover as you step out into the North Downs…

This activity is available at the following locations: