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Celebration Heritage Skills Day

Rain did not stop play…

Despite the dismal downpour early on the day of our Celebration Day on July 11th, a host of enthusiastic archaeology students descended on Wincobank to share with local people their skills and knowledge.  Setting up a bloomery beneath blue tarps they set out about stoking the forge and melting down bronze to cast into replica Bronze Age axe heads. Elsewhere in the gardens there was open fire cooking and a shelter building challenge for younger children.  Meanwhile, indoors there was a remarkably tasty Roman Feast to be consumed, pottery to be made and a rolling programme of  films made by other groups during the Roots of Iron project.  The final task was for everyone to burn their names, in ancient Celtic Ogham  script, into the commemorative bench that will be installed deep in Wincobank Woods to remind us all for years to come of this fantastic project.








Adventure Camp

The end of May brought the half-term holiday and time for another spell out in the woods.

We moved further down into the woods for the adventure challenges of trail laying and fire lighting. We finally achieved the cooking of popcorn without actually setting it on fire.

Kim set a challenge to build a platform house 1 metre off the ground that would be weatherproof and withstand her bucket of water test. The standard of knotting was excellent beneath the canopy but and there was some creative design work. Despite appearances there was general enjoyment and all stayed mostly dry.

Team 2 took a slightly different approach and would have kept their feet drier had a storm swept by –

On the final day we were joined by some more young people and also by Adventures R Us with slack rope and high ropes.  Some of us were very happy to keep our feet on the ground.

Meanwhile James the Ranger was running his own set of challenges to travel across the forest floor without stepping in molten lava.  Just as well there wasn’t any or there would have been some roasted toes.

But the best thing of all was seeing the smiles on the faces of our two very serious young men. Hooray…

2016-06-02 14.17.13

The Bluebell Festival

Saturday April 30th brought the sunshine and more than 300 people came out to see the bluebells.  The signs of Spring were all around and with inspiration from Ignite Imagination artist Aimee Hickman, everyone was soon gathering up the tiniest seeds, leaves and flower heads to create beautiful mandala patterns.

The festival was organised with the help of the 61st Sheffield Scouts(Wincobank) who had got involved with Roots of Iron earlier with the Light Up the Hill project.  They set up their camp kitchen and impressed us all with their award winning cooking  – serving up cups of tea,  freshly baked bread and fish baked in wet newspaper … all very tasty.

Roots of Iron is a partnership project supported by the Sheffield City Council Woodland Service so all the Rangers were out in force sharing their skills: charcoal making, willow weaving, and encouraging passers-by to try out their skills with natural art in a competition.  The winning entries were posted 20 May 2016 on Facebook

The scouts were both providers and participants at this event.  Artist blacksmith Tim Puddephatt was busy tutoring first timers in the art of black-smithing with impressive results:

Some very enthusiastic students from the University of Sheffield Department of Archaeology  gave a breath-taking demonstration of how bronze was smelted and moulded to make Iron Age axe heads and on this occasion bluebells.. The Roots of Iron crew provided the person power for the bellows to keep the fire roaring.

In all, more than 300 people passed by that day and had a taste of the past and a stroll in the bluebell woods.  Just a stone’s throw from the M1 but so peaceful and oh so beautiful.

A Walk in the Bluebell Woods

Woolley Woods has the best display of British bluebells – so all the visitors say.  It is a magical sight.  So one Tuesday evening in April the young people from the youth club set off to walk down the hill to Woolley Woods armed with cameras – only to be caught in a blizzard.  Undaunted, they continued on and when they reached the Lost Gateway (whereon are carved mysterious Viking Runes telling the ancient legend of the last Woolley Wolf) – they were surprised to find a pack of very young Beavers, of the scouting variety, out painting the bluebells.

Young people and youth workers took some stunning photos some of which are featured in this post, but unfortunately they all got rather mixed up so it is impossible to say whose is whose …


Meanwhile back at the club…

We had agreed that on some Tuesday evenings we would hold Young Roots activities at Wincobank Youth Group for any young people who wanted to join in.

James the Ranger showed how to make bird feeders from pine cones and peanut butter and Jon Harrison came back to explain how to edit the Hue and Cry film so that Rudi and Dylan could do it themselves.  Penny came in  with a bag of clay and a clay green man face –  rather weird looking with leaves sprouting everywhere. We made faces which Anna fired for us in her kiln,

The Survival Game – part 2

We were so impressed with the shelter Beck had made in February, that we began to wonder how people in those days made luxury  homes and what is might have been like to live in one so in the next holidays, at Easter, we made our own house – well part of one…

It was a bit draughty, rather dangerous with no door to lock, but felt quite friendly without fences and walls every where.  So we started thinking about life in a village and we thought we would make a little film to show primary children a slice of olden days life.

Dylan told us about the ancient law of Hue and Cry whereby a  criminal had to be driven out of the village or the whole village would be held responsible. There was no time to write a script so with a little direction the actors improvised while Thomas and Alex filmed the action.  Watch our mini movie here: Wincobank Hue and Cry on YouTube

The Survival Game – part 1

The winter months are bleak but beautiful high on Wincobank Hill.  It’s difficult to imagine how folks survived here thousands of years ago, when all there was was wood, wool and woad.

We spent a day in the woods  trying to imagine what it might have been like. We were cold and hungry – so we lit a fire, cooked pancakes and then set fire to the popcorn…  After some practice the lads lit the kelly kettles and brewed up. And then Beck built an amazing shelter from dead wood and leaves but we all agreed it would have been a chilly place to sleep.

Light Up the Hill

A Ghostly Night Out

There was quite a buzz in Wincobank in November 10th.  There were children in the chapel garden carrying the lanterns they had made at school, parents tagging along not wanting to be left out.

Up at the hillfort student archaeologists stoked their fiery furnace, the piper played her weird tune and the Ghosts of Wincobank, decked out in illuminated finery and a dab of blue face paint hid in the bushes, ready to frighten the life out of unsuspecting lantern bearers.

The Brigantes waited to re-enact once again the account set out by Tacitus of the fateful night when Caratacus came to rouse the locals to rebel against the Romans and once again Queen Cartimandua  struggled with the dilemma of what she was going to do.

A Roots of Iron film crew hovered to capture the excitement of the night and record the comments of the crowd. And here it is – filmed and edited by the young people of Wincobank – Light Up The Hill – click here.


Be part of the drama this half term!

grow picBe part of a spectacular project this half term led by Growtheatre – if designing, making or performing are your thing then get in touch now!  You will be creating weird and wonderful street performances to appear at the Light Up The Hill event, 10 November 2015. The performances will take place outdoors in the dark on Wincobank Hill.  During the half term project you will:

 – Explore how to use Wincobank Hill as a performance space
 – Devise street performances for different locations on the hill
 – Learn how to create dramatic lighting effects
 – Design and make costumes and props

Dates and Times:

Wednesday 28th to Thursday 29th October 2pm to 7pm.

Monday 09 November 4pm – 7pm

for an evening rehearsal on the hill

Tuesday 10th November 4pm – 7pm

for the performance at Light Up The Hill Event

Meet at Wincobank Chapel, Wincobank Avenue, Sheffield S5 6BB


Click here to fill in a booking form, or ring Catherine Nuttgens on 0114 2736199 (email if you would like the form in another format, or have any other questions.

Wildnerness Skills – Extra Day Added

We will now be running Wilderness Skills  from Monday 16th to Wednesday 18th February

Would you like to learn how to use a bow drill to light a fire? Or preserve a deer skin or make smoked fish? We are having fun with these and other ancient arts on Wincobank Hill this half term. Come and join us for Wilderness Skills!

Wilderness skills pic

If you would like to book on. ring Catherine Nuttgens on 0114 2736199, or you can download the booking form by clicking:

Info and Booking form wilderness

Send completed booking forms to