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Portals to the Past


Many thanks

to the project team which included: Marcus Hurcombe (Rotherham Youth Service); Jackie Abrams (Rotherham Youth Service); St Joseph’s Primary School, Rawmarsh; Manor Farm Youth Group, Rawmarsh; Ray Hearne; Steve Pool; Libby Hicken (Rotherham Libraries) and Christine Evans (Rotherham Archives). Researchers from the University of Sheffield supported the project, including: Hugh Escott (School of English); Kate Pahl (School of Education); Kim Marwood, Louisa Stokoe, Stephanie Liantzakis, Sara Farey, Rebecca Hearne, Krissy Moore (Archaeology); Christine Wallis (School of English) and Becky Fisher. Special thanks to Deborah Bullivant (Inspire Rotherham), Rebecca Hearne (University of Sheffield) and Libby Hicken (Rotherham Libraries) for organising the final exhibition.

This booklet

is a record of this wonderful project, a celebration of the history of Rawmarsh, and a useful resource for future time-travellers!


Portals to the Past

What do you know about the past? What do you know about the people that were here before? Can you imagine what it was like? Can you travel through time?

Portals to the Past involved young people in Rawmarsh re-imagining their pasts and their futures in very different ways. A group of Year 6 children from St Joseph’s School in Rawmarsh heard about the miner Arthur Eaglestone and his book ‘From a Pitman’s Notebook’, written in Rawmarsh in the 1920s. They wrote mining poems and sang a Portal Song with Ray Hearne, song writer and poet. They also did an archaeological dig with experts from the School of Archaeology, University of Sheffield and visited the Rotherham Archives for expert information on Rawmarsh. They became Vikings with Marcus Hurcombe, youth worker, and imagined Anglo Saxon worlds through runes and maps with Anglo Saxon researchers from the School of English, University of Sheffield. They worked with artist Steve Pool to create films of better imagined pasts through the portal. Young people from the surrounding area including Manor Farm estate in Rawmarsh also took part in the project.


We learnt about the past by

singing songs… Hurtle through a portal, I do it every day, Every little mortal should always have their say…

Vanish through a portal, it’s all imagining… From the mouth of the lion through the eye and back again…

We found out about Arthur Eaglestone, a miner from Rawmarsh,

and reading books…

and what it was like to go down the pit….


We found out about the Anglo Saxons through maps,

magic and runes… Activity – Make a map What might be dwelling in the misty, green lands of Rosehill Park in Rawmarsh? Step through the portal and create your own map. Activity – HWAET! Telling stories What’s happing in Old English Poetry? Look at ‘Grendel’s Approach’ from Beowulf. Create your own scary story set in Rawmarsh. Activity – Shield Yourself! Healing Magic What are Anglo Saxon Charms? Why did people believe in magic? Create your own healing charm to use when you pass through the portal. Activity - Hwaet sægest ðu? Language Detectives Look at the Old English alphabet and sounds. See how the language has changed over time. Do you recognise any words?


Iron Age Rotherham 800BC – 43 AD There was a rich Iron Age landscape in the area, characterised by small settlements and farming communities. These were absorbed into the Roman Empire. Romano-British Rotherham 43 AD – 700 AD 54 AD: Wincobank Hillfort was extended and fortified by the Brigantes to stop the Roman advance – but they were outflanked by a force of 24,000 men under Agricola and Cerialis. 550 AD: Rotherham was part of the Romano-British kingdom of Elmet – The ‘Rotherham Roman Ridge’ may have defended them against the Angles. Viking Age Rotherham 793 AD – 1066 AD ‘Rawmarsh’ comes from the Old “Scandinavian Norse rauthr (red) and the Old English mersc (marsh) – ‘Red Marsh’.

We visited the local

Archives and the Museum to find out more…what do you know about the history of Rawmarsh? Can you add anything to the timeline?

886 AD – 954 AD During the Danelaw, the northern part of Britain (including Yorkshire) was under Viking control Anglo-Saxon Rotherham 550 AD – 1066 AD Rotherham (‘the hamlet on Rother River’) is a Saxon name. In 1066, the last Saxon landholder of Rawmarsh was Stori (Thorir), at the time of Edward the Confessor. He is listed in the Domesday Book (1086), a survey of land after the Norman Conquest.


We became

Archaeologists by digging in our school field. Are there any objects you can find?

What can objects tell us about the past?


Portals to the Past  

A Heritage Lottery Fund project exploring the history and heritage of Rawmarsh

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