Belfast Young Archaeologists' Club
An opportunity for 8-16 year olds to learn about their past
The Young Archaeologists' Club (YAC) is a UK-wide organisation for young people up to the age of seventeen who have, or want to develop, an interest in archaeology and the heritage sector at large. YAC is part of the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) who administer and support the network of local YAC Branches run by volunteer leaders from all walks of life. The Belfast YAC Branch is one of three Branches of the Young Archaeologists' Club in Northern Ireland- the others are based at Down County Museum, Downpatrick, Co. Down and the Tower Museum in Derry.
The Belfast branch is currently run by a group of staff and post-graduate students from the School of Natural and Built Environment, Queen's University. The venue for the branch meetings is the state-of-the art Archaeology and Palaeoecology building, where resources and varied expertise can be drawn upon. The branch has flourished since it was set up in June 2006 by archaeologists from Queen’s and a wide range of activities have been enjoyed in the five years of the club's existence. With over 60 members on the books the club meets monthly with an average turnout of 30 children per meeting. Children from eight years of age and up to the age of seventeen regularly attend and many interested parents also choose to stay for the sessions. There is also the opportunity for those over the age of 16 years to become assistant leaders.
The hands-on sessions have covered subjects such as pottery making, flint knapping, comets and myths, and the study of animal bones from archaeological sites. We have also been to many sites around Northern Ireland - the Giant’s Ring, Co. Antrim, Friar’s Bush Graveyard in Belfast, Navan Fort, Co. Armagh, and Carrickfergus and Dunluce Castles, Co. Antrim to name a few. Last year we visited the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin for our April fieldtrip and this June we hope to visit Mountjoy Castle to take part in an excavation. Our current schedule is packed with fun events and can be found here.
Volunteering with YAC
The growing interest in the Young Archaeologists' Club and the fact that people are prepared to travel long distances to attend further highlights the strong desire for young people to learn about their past. Several of our members have gone on to study archaeology and related subjects at university and we are very proud of the fact that the club contributes to the future of the archaeological profession. Many young people in Northern Ireland have a genuine interest in archaeology and their heritage. It would be fantastic if others working within the heritage sector, or simpy with an enthusiasm for the past, within the province were willing to step forward as new YAC leaders. Volunteering with YAC is great fun and brings many benefits, it is an opportunity for archaeologists, historians and others with an interest in the past to share their knowledge and to help local communities discover their heritage. We would be interested to hear from other groups throughout Ireland carrying out similar activities for children and young people. If you would be interested in volunteering with YAC please do get in touch and we can explain more about our branch and the YAC volunteer application process. Alternatively you can visit the main YAC website for more details (see http://www.yac-uk.org/branches). All volunteers are asked to complete an Access Northern Ireland Disclosure check for which there is no charge. If you would be interested in establishing a new YAC Branch please contact YAC HQ in York via firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss possibilities.
*** There are also exciting opportunities for young people aged 16 and 17 to volunteer as Young Leaders with YAC. Volunteering with YAC can provide valuable experience working with children and other young people. You can learn new skills and make a positive contribution to Belfast YAC. This kind of voluntary work can look brilliant on a personal statement when applying to university, as well as on your CV. Please contact us for more info ***