ROMAN Rotherham was brought to life for the town’s care home residents almost two millennia after the ancient empire first settled in the area.
Residents at Broadacres Care Home, on Naylor Street, Parkgate, were taken on a historical journey into Rotherham’s ancient history as part of a monthly archaeology event.
Genuine artefacts were brought into the home for residents to observe and handle, including pieces of Roman roofing, pottery, glassware and mosaic.
They also got to handle an unused Roman nail dropped by a workman nearly 2,000 years ago – possibly during construction of the wooden fortress at Templeborough in the 1st century AD.
Residents even got a taste of history when they were treated to bread made using an authentic ancient recipe, recorded by the Roman writer Cato, who died in 149 BC.
The event was organised by Aaron Poole, activities coordinator at Broadacres Care Home, who created information leaflets so residents could learn more about the town’s Roman past.
He said: “Our residents have not been able to venture out to have their usual experiences, so we thought we would bring the outside world into the home.
“I’ve always been fascinated by archaeology. From the age of 15, when I wasn’t in school, I’d go on archaeological digs and I’ve worked on digs in the South West of England.
“So we decided to run our first archaeology experience, focussing on Roman Rotherham, which we’ve called “Look, learn, touch, taste”.
“Special information leaflets with images were created in large print to help set the tone of the event. This was followed by a wide selection of Roman artefacts discovered in the Rotherham area with some additional items of special interest.
“Residents were encouraged to handle the items and share their thoughts and questions. Most of the items are from the Rotherham area, from a series of excavations over the past 14 years. They were chosen on the basis that residents could relate to them in their modern lives.
“In order to bring the history of Roman Rotherham alive, a bread tasting session was the final experience. Bread is a unifying food as everyone from any point in history would have had it in their diet as a basic staple.
“The event went down really well with the residents, who had lots of thoughtful questions and comments.”
Shirley Henshaw, 85, said: “The glass perfume container was beautiful, but the bread was a bit tasteless.”
Jessie Senior, 92, said: “I enjoyed the experience. It reminded me of when I was younger and would go to museums with school.”
Alwyn Galbraith, 80, said: “The Roman nail was amazing. It looked so new and so big. I could eat the bread but, if I had a choice, I’d have the bread we have today.”
Ann Edwards, 84, said: “I was amazed to be able to hold items that were so old. It was very interesting. The bread was very tasty too. Brilliant.”
Iris Oldfield, 92, said: “The Roman brick was so heavy. The builders must have been strong.”
Kathleen Needham, 82, said: “I loved holding the items, they are so old. It’s amazing they have survived. The bread reminded me of soda bread.”
Future archaeology experience events at Broadacres Care Home will have a different focus each month, including medieval Rotherham, ancient Egypt and Victorian Rotherham.