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Ancestors Trail

A Storywalk about the visitors to the British Isles since the retreat of the ice sheet some twelve thousand years ago.

Written for Storywalks and can be geolocated anywhere in the British Isles or Northern Europe and still be factually correct. The notable missing eras are the beaker peoples, perhaps this is the area you should research and study with you pupils to then insert the chapter?
From the tree, walk down the gallery, over the fossils and dinosaur, to the last glass cabinet on your right. What animal are the lower horns from.
Chapter one

Ten Thousand Years Ago

On this spot ten thousand years ago
Stood a rather curious fellow
With staff in hand and wild coloured eyes
And hunting dogs close to his side
He is dressed in skins from the animals he's caught
His skills are the same as his father taught
He follows the herd as the ice retreats
And the birch trees grow and the wildness creeps
He is no farmer as he peers around the spruce
Picks up his bow and works a quiver loose
Slowly draws his arrow the same as his brother
Along with his sons working stealthily under cover
They sight their quarry then let their arrows fly
Which bite into the Auroch's hide beneath the British Sky

Over the next day or two
The whole clan arrives
To work at the carcass
With knowledge and flint sharp knives
And use every part of this honourable beast
Leather for clothing tents and bags
And meat to dry and feast
Then it's off again
As the herds move on
Satchels on their backs
Freshly stitched and strong
They make fresh forest tracks
And as they turn to move away
You see the families close at play
Rolling in the long goose grass
Wrestling loose they jibe and laugh
Grandmother stern it's time to move out
She cajoles the children trying not to shout

And you wonder how different these good folk are
As you squabble with your siblings
In the back seat of your car
Keen to tickle just the same
Steel a share
And pretend you're not to blame
Scratch your back in a spot just out of reach
Avoid the lessons your parents try to teach

But then you notice something out of place
Was that the father putting sun glasses on his face!
Now move along
Move on down
Who is the next ancient ready to be found
Who walked here in the land of the free
And stood here looking at the same things you see?
Go upstairs the next keyword is in the very first cabinet. Look for the bowl and nuts to the left. What type of nuts do you see?
Chapter two

Six Thousand Years Ago

On this spot six thousand years ago
Lived a rather curious fellow
He's collecting eggs his basket's almost filled
And fletching his arrows as well as perfecting his skills
Now carrying water in a bark and moss container
He takes it to his family hidden out of danger
Their temporary camp in a cave's shadowy mouth
But winter's coming so soon they'll head south
Along with the wolves who hunt close by
Easily take a child in just a blink of an eye
So he holds them tight and ties his dogs' tethers
Then tickles tiny feet with white goose feathers
And sings them to sleep in the crook of his arm
As they trace along the creases on his forehead and palms

Are you so different from these families
Are these folk so different from you?
When caught by unending hiccups
Or joy in the morning dew

But then you notice something wrong
Something out of time
As he swigs at bottled water
Flavoured with a dash of lime!
Now move along
Move on down
Who is the next ancient to be found
Who walked here in the land of the free
And stood here looking at the same things you see?
Walk down past the shield and find the cabinet with the bronze axes. Top right these hoops are bronze what?
Chapter three

Four and a half Thousand Years Ago

On this spot some four and a half thousand years ago
Stands a rather imposing fellow
With Woad died skin
Gold torque about his neck
And in his hand a bird catching net
Not too far is the hill where he lives
A fortified village with posts all around
Set above a ditch which is cut into the ground
With shovels made from antler horn
He stitches the tear where his cape got torn
Then down to the river with baskets in the water
Catching eels and ducks for the slaughter
The latter with feathers soft for his bed
And milk from his goats to keep his family fed

And you think how similar he is to us
As he stretches and yawns in the evening dusk
And hugs at his children who get scared of the night
Who love ripe fruits gathered and foraged
Honey roast ham and herb peppered porridge
And how his children paddle in the gushing streams
Climb tall trees and become unsettled by their dreams
Those children very similar to you
Beneath the same sky so wide and and so blue

But then you notice something wrong
As he whistles a ditty and sings up a song
You catch a glimpse beneath his cape
Something simple short and straight
And with it you could write a letter
A poem a list or something much better
You could pluck a great feather from a big black hen
But at this point in history you wouldn't find a pen!

Now move along
Move on down
Who is the next ancient to be found
Who walked here in the land of the free
And stood here looking at the same things you see?
Carry on round past the tree to the cabinet with glass beads inside. The stone bottom right was used to grind flour. But what is it called ?
Chapter four

Two Thousand Years Ago

On this spot some two thousand years ago
Stood a rather imposing fellow
Socks, sandals and a woollen skirt
Short sword at his hilt and silver broach on his shirt
He stands watching efficient soldiers
Sentinels of the Roman legion
Bearing bold new plans for the region
There'll be square shaped rooms as round houses are out
Under floor heating and irrigation to stop drought

Then slowly a simple cart draws into view
Ox at its lead and rich goods stacked high
Jars of olives and pickled fruits
Bolts of cloth and a muse holding his lute
Tasty morsels for the class of the rich
Not for the likes of those living in the ditch

And the cart passes adorned with these treasures
Over newly laid roads plotted and measured
Straight as a ruler it cuts through the land
Efficient communications Rome has deftly planned
Soldiers idle now throwing dice
Nit comb working clearing heads from lice
Carding wool and brewing barley
Grinding corn to feed this army
All quality crafts now much in demand
Worth a pretty coin from the governor's hand
This metal brought through Roman occupation
With Emperors picture dispersed throughout the nation
Now Europe wide the coin in trade
Its value fixed for the goods you've made

But then you notice something that's not right
Was that the soldier putting his phone out of sight!
Now move along
Move on down
Who is the next ancient to be found
Who walked here in the land of the free
And stood here looking at the same things you see?
Walk down the gallery to the last cabinet where roman pins and broaches are displayed. Number 5 will give you your keyword.
Chapter five

Eight Hundred Years Ago

On this spot eight hundred years ago
Stands a rather curious fellow
With quill in hand and vellum scrolls
He's passed by the chandelier with candles to behold
Next stop the monastery for the ink
Made from soot and blood and honey
For the Christian monks know how to make their money

He clutches at his cross and is busy about this charter
Writing the words on the Magna Carta
Which will still be read in eight hundred years
But back then the king just ignored his peers
And continued as if nothing had changed
And that the barons were all quite mad and deranged
And continued to dine on fortified wines
Delicious smoked herring all pickled in brine
Butters and cheeses soups in terrines
Mustards and grapes and exotic tangerines
Brought by vessels from coastal trades

Some stolen some bartered some just spoils from raids
And the king took his taxes from the population
And good people grew thinner when squeezed to starvation
And you see their eyes a sadness and hunger
What could you give to make them much stronger?

Perhaps knowledge to cure their simple ills
To eradicate small pox or an antibiotic pill
Or just clean water in the sump of the well
To clear the towns of the filth and dirt and smell
These good people living hand to mouth
Desperate to rid their clothes of crawling louse
And lift themselves free from this tyranny

And you catch the eye of a young boy
Playing with a stick
Making his own toy
Is he so different from yourself
As these towns grow fat on exploitation and wealth?

But then you notice something out of chord
Are those the legs of an ironing board!
Now move along
Move on down
Who is the next ancient to be found
Who walked here in the land of the free
And stood here looking at the same things you see?
Look down over the railings back through time to this day. The last key word to write below is 'today'
Chapter six

Just a Minute Ago

On this spot just a minute ago
Stood a rather curious fellow
With plastic soled shoes
And slack hoodie top
A tattooed arm
And a tightly cropped mop
Three wheeler pram bristling with bags
Logos of brands and mega sales tags
And in his palm he checks his phone
Message through that his children are home
He drops the plastic wrapper from his pasty in the bin
Checks his car keys and then strokes at his chin
And yawns long and slow as he considers his plans
Holiday in south of France
They'll come home nice and tanned
The boys can play in the Atlantic surf
Wild ocean spray and the Dheli belly curse

But it's the simple things which he loves the most
Rainy day telly with marmalade and toast
Power cuts and electrical storms
Tickling feet silencing squabbles
Sharing nits and teething troubles
Piggy backs and skimming stones
Or buzzing lips from paper covered combs
All of these things are part of the family way
As important years ago just as they are today

But then he turns and leaves you alone
Standing tall with your two hundred and six bones
Eight fingers and opposable thumbs
Which can play a flute or skin a drum
The same design now for 200,000 years
The same which embraces and bites back tears
The same design which roamed these plains
Hunted elk with wits and brains
The same design which now prowls the mall
Orders flat white coffee and dials a call
Connecting to the clan
It's the repeating refrain
As nothing's really changed at all
We are all just the same
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