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Humanities on the run

Over lockdown we are encouraging teachers, parents and students to share their daily exercise with us; maybe walking the dog, going for a run or bike ride, or maybe a trip for some essential shopping. The idea is to take a photograph, or maybe a soundbite, or just some thoughts about an object or the landscape that grabs your attention. See if you can fit it into the context of your humanities learning, or any subject for that matter.

Our offsite humanities headquarters is based in a very historic and scenic part of North West Bristol and your humanities teacher is prone to the occasional run - it is usually from runs and cycle rides that the more creative ideas for the classroom are born.

This morning’s run takes us along the banks of the River Avon at Sea Mills. How does this fit into our curriculum? This is one for MYP1 and settlement patterns. We argued that settlements often developed by a river at a crossing - a ford and maybe, subsequently, a bridge.

As you can see, here at Sea Mills there is no ford or bridge, it is incredibly difficult to cross the river here. Yet Sea Mills is the site of the substantial Roman town of Abona, a major centre in the South West when Bristol was virtually non existent. Why? Beyond Sea Mills the River Avon becomes very difficult to navigate and this stretch the river also has a horseshoe bend before heading into the Severn Estuary, a feature favoured by the Romans at it gave plenty of notice of the arrival of friends or foes.

The second image shoes the now rather derelict harbour at Abona - notice the harbour walls just poking up above the high water line (not the viaduct!). Amazing engineering, but not Roman. These were constructed for a whaling enterprise (and also used by privateers) in the early 1700s, with ships heading in and out of the Atlantic. Apparently when the walls were constructed builders noticed spectacular Roman arches buried in the mud - if true, as far as we know, they are still there!

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