What can we infer from ‘migrant sources’ about the history of the British Isles over a thousand years?

In 2013, 850,000-year-old human footprints were discovered on a beach in Happisburgh, Norfolk. The prints are believed to have been left by small group of adults and children – the Homo Antecessor – the oldest discovered outside of Africa. They were likely to be between 0.9 metres and 1.7m in height and were a more advanced form of Homo Erectus. Within a fortnight, the sea tides that had exposed the prints destroyed them forever. Only casts and 3D images made through photogrammetry (stitching together hundreds of photographs) remain as evidence that a little group from a long-extinct early human species had passed that way.
Trace

noun noun: trace; plural noun: traces

  1. a mark, object, or other indication of the existence or passing of something.
  2. a very small quantity, especially one too small to be accurately measured.

In 2013, the Happisburgh prints left a trace of a very distant past – revealed by the crashing waves of the Norfolk coast. These footprints provided both an indication of existence (in this case of the Homo Antecessor) and did so in such a small quantity it left – to an untrained and ignorant eye like mine – very little to draw inferences from.

Enquiry Second Order Focus :

Sources and Evidence – the work that historians do.

Students of history require an understanding of the games we play with sources. The ways in which we get traces of the past to speak in the present through logical, transparent and reasoned source analysis. This introductory enquiry at KS3 seeks to build Year 7’s abilities in doing this whilst also allowing them to engage with the varied traces that the past leaves behind for the historian to interrogate.

Enquiry Ethic :

Providing an introductory overview of the curriculum in which students see themselves.
This is a scheme of work devised for students beginning their history education at secondary school. The enquiry provides, with broad brushes, a millenium of history which the students will spend the next three years examining. This includes key shifts such as the Norman Conquest, the Reformation, the extension of British imperial projects and settler colonialism. It seeks to provide students with an introduction to some of the key concepts (and periodisations) of their journey to come. But as importantly by engaging in a shared, social history that continues up to the present day it immediately encourages them to see themselves within the history classroom.

Lessons: What can we infer from ‘migrant sources’ about the history of the British Isles over a thousand years?

Mystery : This was found in the ground in York and is over a thousand years old!

1. Label as many things as you can see on it.
2. How do you think it got there?

What is History? – an introductory lesson to the subject

  1. What can we make the traces of ‘migrant stories’ reveal about the history of the British Isles over a thousand years?
  2. What can we make the traces of ‘migrant stories’ reveal about the history of the British Isles before 1066?
  3. What can we make the traces of ‘migrant stories’ reveal about the history of the British Isles between 1066 and 1500?
  4. What can we make the traces of ‘migrant stories’ reveal about the history of the British Isles between 1500 and 1750?
  5. What can we make the traces of ‘migrant stories’ reveal about the history of the British Isles between 1750 and 1900?
  6. What can we make the traces of ‘migrant stories’ reveal about the history of the British Isles between 1900 and today?

A. Sivanandan – born in Sri Lanka in 1923, moved to Britain and died here in 2018. In the 1970s he wrote :

We Are Here Because You Were With Us