The Process of History display

A lovely resource that is being shared by our friends at Huntington School. Inspired by hearing Ian Dawson at the Northern History Forum, it makes a great corridor display: Process of History Display.  Why not book for the Northern History Forum coming up on Weds 22nd Nov at Leeds Trinity? Book here! The sessions don’t start til 5pm, after social time, so there is time to get over from York after school.


‘Doing History’ – display and ex book versions

Here are links to a classroom display and exercise book version of ‘Doing History’. It is designed to explain to pupils what we do in history. Thanks to Hugh Richards for initiating and driving this work in consultation with many people. Doing History, Exercise book edition    Doing History 2017 display

Are you studying Hardwick Hall as part of the AQA GCSE course 2016-18?

Here are free resources for anyone studying Hardwick Hall as part of the Elizabethan depth study for AQA GCSE.

The pack is a mash up and more of the AQA resources. It is designed to introduce the historic environment study, has some preparation ideas and is then a workbook to use on site. Teaching pack

Here is a VR tour of the Hall for use by anyone who can’t get there, and also useful for revision. VR tour of Hardwick Hall

Are you studying Durham Cathedral as part of the AQA Norman England Unit?

Last week we were lucky enough to be joined by research Assistant Dr. John Jenkins from York University for an hour session on the Normans and Durham Cathedral. Here is a brief transcript of what he told us.  Please share with any colleagues studying Durham Cathedral for their Historic Environment.

  1. UniversityDurham is unique in that it combines the role of Church and warrior bishop. The Earls of Northumbria had not been successful in ruling over the people. Tostig had been replaced by Harold, Copsi had been given the role by William but lasted only 5 weeks in the job until he was burnt out of his church and beheaded. He was killed by Oswulf, grandson of Uchtred, who installed himself as Earl. Oswulf was killed in the autumn by bandits after less than six months as Earl. The role then passed to Gospatric who later joined a rebellion with Edgar Atheling and the Danes. As a result of this rebellion William stripped him of his title and placed Waltheof in the role. In 1075 Waltheof is caught up in another rebellion against William, and, despite confessing he is executed by William.

Clearly the Earldom of Northumbria was causing major problems for any English King.


John explained you need to understand that the people of Northumbria felt they owed their allegiance to a higher authority than a King. They were the ‘people of St. Cuthbert’. St Cuthbert had been a monk at Lindisfarne and Melrose in the 7th Century and had been given the status of Saint. His remains had been moved across the North of England in reaction to various Viking invasions but by the 10th Century he was firmly established at Durham Cathedral. The people of Northumbria identified themselves as ‘waliwerfolc’ – essentially People of the Saint. This means that St. Cuthbert was their protector. In the Harrying of the North, Simeon reports that the Normans turn back at Northallerton because Cuthbert has sent down a mist.

Durham was not any use in the strategic sense. Instead the Normans build Newcastle as this is a much more useful strategic position.  However Durham has significance as a religious site. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, William visits Durham and goes to the shrine of St. Cuthbert. Here he confirms all the liberties and lands of the cathedral and gives gold and vestments.

Simeon gives an alternative story in which William doubts whether Cuthbert is really in the tomb and tries to open the coffin. At the moment he does he is stricken with fever and rides away in terror. He then sends gold.

John points out that it really doesn’t matter which was true, it was an idea that was believed by the people of Northumbria. William had realised that in order to control this region he had to respect their Saint.

The Normans decide to launch a new style of Earl/Bishop for a variety of reasons

  1. Bishops have no children as they are celibate so they can be easily removed without hereditary issues
  2. To make the job attractive there needed to be significant reward
  3. The Earls needed to use the powers of St Cuthbert to be able to govern
  4. The Earls needed considerable power – could offer rewards of monastic life to the sons of families who obeyed their laws.


William St Calais is the first of these new Bishop Earls

The Cathedral at Durham is rebuilt alongside the existing Anglo- Saxon one (called the White Church). Cuthbert’s remains are transferred in 1104. They also build a new monastery.

The new cathedral would have been built by a team of Norman stone masons and used the newest fashion for ceiling vaulting. The zig zag motive represents continuity with the old Anglo-Saxon style of decoration. (The Normans decorated much more figuratively). It was exactly the same length as St Peters in Rome. It would have been painted red, blue and green inside and probably white outside.

12 monks looked after Cuthbert and some could trace their lineage back to the 7th century Lindisfarne. (Monks at this point were not celibate)

William St Calais comes from a monastery in Normandy and he models Durham on this experience. William brings in Benedictine monks who are stricter and observe the rules of celibacy. In this way he takes over control over Cuthbert’s staff. Future monks have to observe celibacy.

Before 1083 women could also pray at the shrine of St. Cuthbert. William brings in strict rules based on his former monastery’s practise of denying women access to the shrine. Women end up pressing offerings into the walls or having to give them to the monks in an attempt to get close to the saint. Teachers could link this to wider changes in the diminishing status of women in the Norman period?

Durham Castle – it was small and never really used in battle. Not much of the original castle remains now. It was built in 1070 as the Bishop’s Palace and like all castles was largely symbolic. It would have been a simple motte and bailey and a curtain wall. John pointed out that the AQA pack showed photos of the later parts of the cathedral and castle. You will need to get students to cross out lots of the visible outline to give a true impression of how the castle  and cathedral would have looked in Medieval times.





What can the Domesday Book reveal about the Norman Conquest?

Here are a set of resources and an activity plan about the Domesday Book.  The resources are information from Domesday about 15 places and 3 people.  The activity plan suggests how these can be used with a GCSE class.  It can be adapted for Year 7.  There is also a set of notes for teachers about the Domesday survey in case you are teaching it but did not study it during your degree.  With thanks to Pathfinder ITT mentors for their ideas and to Professor Stephen Baxter for his expertise.  Here are:

The places and people: what-can-domesday-reveal-places

The activity plan and resources: what-can-domesday-reveal-re-conquest    ppt-people-and-places-on-map

The notes for teachers: domesday-book

Pathfinder teacher trainees help for A Level History students

At these links you will find some nice film clips made for A Level historians by the Pathfinder teacher trainees. They cover study skills from writing essays to referencing the personal study. They will help your students and save you explanation time.  12 film clips about A Level study skills  A Level essay The second clip talks about referencing and the link is here: Referencing styles

Resources for York zeppelin raid May 1916

If you want to teach about World War One zeppelins with a local flavour, you will find lots of stories, sources and more at History Pin zeppelin raid on York 1916.  This collection has been created by Millthorpe and The Mount Schools with Clements Hall Local History Group. Feel free to use whatever is useful to you.


Using the Paston letters in class

Ian Dawson has introduced Yorkclio to the Paston letters. We have been discussing ways to enable students to engage with the people of the Middle Ages as real people. Ian explained who the Pastons were and used key extracts of letters to present them in their world. A world both strangely familiar (with its tenderness, care and need for sound sense and organiation), as well as being deeply unfamiliar (none of us have stashed weapons to fight the neighbours!). Attached are some materials that Ian used with the Historical Association’s Teaching Fellowship participants earlier in 2016. They will introduce you to a little of the Paston’s 15th century world.

Doc 2. DNB Pastons    Paston Letters review     HATF 2. Core doc Paston Letters