One of the hot topics at both the ‘Traces of the Past’ exhibition launch and the K2U2 conference was the Transition Year project undertaken by the Balla Secondary School. The brainchild of Kevin Barton of Landscape and Geophysical Services, the “Balla Archaeological Remote Sensing Project” (BARS) was a joint effort between him, the local No Name Club (in particular Brendan Conwell and Joe Gallagher) and the secondary school teachers, and was supported by Archaeolandscapes members including John and Cade Wells of the West Lothian Archaeological Trust.
Some thirty transition year students were involved in the project. In school, a number of subjects were involved including geography, history and science, so that students understood the reasoning and the technology behind remote sensing. On site and in the No Name Club, they were divided into small groups so that each student could gain hands-on experience using the equipment and entering the data after researching the area and the chosen site.
The teams investigated a possible moated site in the town, but it turned out not to be as archaeological as expected, which of course is quite often the reality of archaeological work. In any case, the experience of conducting a geophysical survey was considered more important. In the presentation given at K2U2 by Ms Teresa Walsh, the transition year coordinator, students shared their enthusiasm and enjoyment of the whole process.
The project had earlier captured the imagination of John Wells of the West Lothian Archaeology Trust. John and his late wife Rosie, were founding members of the Trust and archaeological Kite Aerial Photography started when they combined their loves of kites and photography. The results are startling given the tiny investment needed. The Trust donates kites, rigs and cameras to various groups to promote the KAP techique and Kevin Barton has received a HD video camera, Pentax WG-1 compact camera with time lapse, 9ft Mylar delta and HQ Power Sled 1.7 kites for future use with school groups.
Not only were the delegates at the K2U2 conference wowed, so too was the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Mr Jimmy Deenihan, when the principal of Balla, Mary Reaney and Kevin Barton showed him the work on the opening night of the Traces of the Past exhibition. BARS has shown parents, students and teachers alike the benefits that such an endeavour would bring to other Transition Year students. Hopefully we will see more of this in future.
- K2U2 Conf erence (tracesofthepastexhibition.wordpress.com)
- DIGGING DEEP – Balla students to go underground in geophysical project
- Archaeological remote sensing module for Balla Secondary School (Mayo Advertiser)
- Archaeological Remote Sensing Module at Balla Secondary School, Co Mayo, Ireland