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How can more children get closer to nature?

posted on November 14, 2018

Three of England’s leading environmental education charities have joined forces to explore how more children could be better connected with nature. Our interest is in outdoor education in wooded areas and forests, particularly Forest School practice, and we welcome a wide range of views from all outdoor educators and woodland owners.

Survey partners Sylva Foundation, Forest School Association, and The Ernest Cook Trust are running this survey as part of the Forest Schools for All project funded by The Ernest Cook Trust. The project is focussed on delivery in England, while for this survey the researchers are interested in receiving responses from the whole of the UK. This will allow comparison between countries, and provide valuable data for use by others in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

Bringing Children Closer to Nature national survey

Bringing Children Closer to Nature national survey

Enabling children to be closer to nature, especially by learning and exploring in wooded areas and forests, was recognised as a key action in the government’s 25-year Environment Plan, published earlier this year. Yet despite the well-proven benefits of children spending regular time outdoors—including health and wellbeing, attitudes to learning, and environmental awareness—there is poor understanding about the current level of outdoor activities for young people across England, particularly in wooded areas and forests.

The Bringing Children Closer to Nature survey aims to explore barriers and opportunities to activities in wooded areas and forests, including the practice of Forest School, and it will quantify any issues preventing development and growth. Its three main aims are to:

  1. acquire basic information, including the number and distribution of schools and other organisations who do forest education activities including Forest School, and the levels of training and skills among practitioners;
  2. understand more about barriers and opportunities to establishing and sustaining forest education, including Forest School, among host organisations (e.g. schools, early years nurseries) and practitioners, and explore how these could be overcome;
  3. explore potential interest among woodland owners in providing greater access to woodland sites to support forest education, including Forest School.

This national survey forms part of the Forest Schools for All project, a partnership between Sylva Foundation, The Ernest Cook Trust (funder) and The Forest School Association

Chief Executive of Sylva Foundation, Dr Gabriel Hemery, said:

“Efforts to enable, increase, and sustain activities for young people in our woodlands and other outdoor areas across England have been held back by a poor evidence base. This important survey will provide a powerful voice for those with an interest and expertise in bringing children closer to nature. The survey outcomes will help inform delivery, funding opportunities, and policy development and will be freely available.”

Chief Executive of The Ernest Cook Trust, Dr Victoria Edwards, said:

“It’s been invaluable to work alongside experienced professionals at Sylva Foundation and Forest School Association to produce such a targeted research survey. The outcomes will influence decisions on how we work at The Ernest Cook Trust in broadening our reach to inspire young people to learn from the land.

The survey was launched in November 2018 and will remain open until the end of the year. Research outcomes will summarised in a freely-accessible report in early 2019. Those people interested in taking the survey can read more and follow a link to it here: www.sylva.org.uk/survey

click here to take part in the British Woodlands 2012 survey

click here to take part in the survey

Download the press release

ENDS


Notes for Editors

Contacts:

For media enquiries and to arrange interviews please contact Jen Hurst, Head of Forest Education, Sylva Foundation.  jen@sylva.org.uk or 01865 408018

Images:

Images are available to download (reproduction free). Please contact us for further information. All images © Sylva Foundation.

About the partners:

Sylva Foundation is an environmental charity helping trees and people grow together. From its base at the Sylva Wood Centre in Oxfordshire, it works across the UK supporting sustainable forest management with thousands of woodland owners. It works widely in partnership with other organisations in delivering environmental and educational projects, under the themes of science, education, forestry, and wood. www.sylva.org.uk

The Ernest Cook Trust, based in Fairford, Gloucestershire, is one of the UK’s leading educational charities, inspiring young people to achieve better educational and life outcomes by learning from the land and is rooted in the conservation and management of the countryside. It owns and manages more than 8,900 hectares of landed estates across five English counties. ECT actively encourages children and young people to learn from the land through education programmes (including Forest School training) on its own estates, through partnerships with other organisations, and through its grant-giving programme. Each year its Trustees distribute around £2m in dedicated grants to a range of education initiatives. www.ernestcooktrust.org.uk

The Forest School Association is the National professional body for Forest School, running the recognised providers and trainers’ scheme to ensure high quality Forest School. It has more than 2,000 members. www.forestschoolassociation.org


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Courses: Treewrighting and timber-framing March 2019

posted on November 2, 2018

One-day courses, 20th-24th March 2019

We are pleased to offer five one-day courses in treewrighting and timber-framing, from 20th to 24th March.

House of Wessex timber frame

House of Wessex timber frame

During this one-day course you will learn and develop skills in the making of a timber-frame using traditional tools and techniques. Teaching will be provided by highly experienced craftspeople in the Carpenters’ Fellowship. Learning will include a selection of the following, catering for a wide range of skill and experience :

  • Axe jointing “treewrighting”
  • Cleaving and dressing logs
  • Converting timbers
  • Shaping timbers
  • Carving wooden tree nails
  • Hewing logs by axe

Full training will be provided (no prior experience necessary). Although you will be working undercover, the course will be ‘outdoors’, so you will need to wear appropriate clothing.

Drinks and hot food will be provided, including breakfast, lunch and dinner. Overnight camping (bring your own tent) may be available on the site, or locally. More details will follow your booking.

A programme of evening events will also be on offer, including a range of talks on relevant craft and history, and social events.

You may book for more than one day. Please note that the activities will be physically demanding, so please take this into account before you sign up to all five days!

Carpenters Fellowship

 

Date

 

Book here

 

Wednesday, 20th March 2019 book-now
Thursday, 21st March 2019 book-now
Friday, 22nd March 2019 book-now
Saturday, 23rd March 2019 book-now
Sunday, 24th March 2019 book-now

 

 


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Course: Saxon Building Woodwork, or ‘Treewrighting’

posted on October 10, 2018

Saxon Building Woodwork, or ‘Treewrighting’

10am-4pm, Saturday 23rd March 2019

Led by Damian Goodburn BA PhD, a leading archaeological woodwork specialist, this workshop will be held in our new purpose-built Education Barn at the Sylva Wood Centre.

Saxon broad axe work

Saxon broad axe work. Damian Goodburn demonstrating.

Learn about Anglo-Saxon building woodwork, based mainly on the study of surviving wooden remains, including a review of relatively new evidence, with live demonstrations of tools and techniques, and opportunities to watch treewrighting in action.

Morning activities will include illustrated talks covering the themes below, starting with evidence for how woodland resources were managed. Samples of books and publications will be discussed, including many rare items.

  1. The variation in woodland materials from ‘wildwood’ to intensive coppiced woodland.
  2. An overview of the range of waterlogged building woodwork remains found in Saxon and Saxo-Norman period England c.500-1180 AD when ‘carpentry’ and formal ‘timber-framing’ arrived from France.
  3. Evidence for basic techniques carried out without saws, including felling, bucking, radial, tangential cleaving, hewing various shaped timbers, styles of wattlework.
  4. Evidence for the range of joints and fastenings used, taps and locks, tusk tenons, laft joints, tongue and groove, scarfs, treenails and rove nails.
  5. Tool marks and tool kits, narrow axes, broad axes, ‘groping irons’.
  6. Evidence for ‘built-in’ furniture and fittings such as beds, benches, hearths, storage bins, and coops, doors and windows.
  7. Relevant ethnographic evidence from later timber buildings in the ‘Homelands’ areas on the east side of the North Sea, less influenced by French-style timber-framed carpentry, and how that can be used to extend archaeological evidence from England.

Afternoon activity will involve handling real samples of Saxon woodwork, and high-quality replica tools and fastenings.

Throughout the day demonstrations will be used to illustrate some basic techniques essential to treewrighting, including cleaving a small straight green log (oak or ash c. 150-200mm diam by 1.8-2m long) using wooden wedges, hewing with a narrow-bladed and broad-bladed ‘T’ axe, simple Saxon joint cutting, and willow treenail (wythenails) making.

While the course is underway, delegates will be able to to witness a range of related treewrighting activities nearby, thanks to members of the Carpenters’ Fellowship working on the frame of the House of Wessex.

Cost £75.00. Lunch provided. 20 places maximum. Safety boots essential.

book-now

Book your place


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Become a Patron of the House of Wessex

posted on October 9, 2018

The House of Wessex is a unique reconstruction of an Anglo-Saxon house of significant importance in English history. The faithful reconstruction of the building, working with dozens of volunteers, and an associated programme of learning, is part-funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Sylva Foundation needs help to raise funds to realise the project’s full potential, and establish a legacy fund.

House of Wessex banner

House of Wessex banner

BRONZE  *  £250

Your donation will help us create and manage a unique historical reconstructed building — thank you.

  • We will write to you personally to thank you, recognising your significant contribution.
  • A personalised certificate recognising your contribution.
  • Your name will be appear in an online Patrons Board.

SILVER  * £500

Your support will mean we can build a better future for the House of Wessex, and our education programme.

Everything in BRONZE, plus . . .

  • Your name will be displayed in the building on a Patrons Board.
  • An invitation to a unique evening of Anglo-Saxon activities.

GOLD  *  £1,000

In recognition of your significant support, we offer some very special perks.

Everything in BRONZE and SILVER, plus . . .

  • Your name hand-carved in a beam or post. You can even learn to carve some of your own letters with a master craftsperson.
  • Invitation to a VIP opening of the building in autumn 2019.
  • Limited edition print of the building and reconstructed scene by a leading archaeological reconstruction artist.

 

Every pound we raise will go directly to the House of Wessex project. Thank you.

 

Find out more and pledge your support via Charity Checkout

Find out more and pledge your support via Charity Checkout

If you would prefer to talk with someone in the Sylva team, please call 01865 408018.

 


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Timber secured from Blenheim Estates

posted on October 8, 2018

We had a fantastic day recently on Bladon Heath, in the woodlands on Blenheim Estate, carefully selecting the timber for the training courses this weekend, plus marking out timber for the next year’s reconstruction of the House of Wessex. 

We have chosen a variety of species, 40 trees in total, a mix of ash , sweet chestnut, oak and silver birch. The oak and sweet chestnut are of similar age, around 100yrs and 70 ft in height. The ash are younger at 40 -50 yrs, and again 70ft. The birch are younger at 25yrs and are 50ft.

The trees required for the event on 13-14 October (read more) have been felled and delivered to the Wood Centre. The timber will be used for the formal training course and for the general public to see Anglo-Saxon techniques in action such as hewing, cleaving and making treenails. The work will help prototype some of the techniques to be used in next year’s reconstruction of the House of Wessex.

Many thanks to John, Henry, and Joe from Carpenters’ Fellowship for their time selecting the trees, and Nick Baimbridge and his forestry team of Blenheim Estates for felling and preparing the timber.

Read more about the House of Wessex


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Birth of the House of Wessex project

posted on September 12, 2018

Professor Helena Hamerow, from the School of Archaeology at the University of Oxford, has provided much of the academic expertise for the House of Wessex project. We asked Helena to summarise how the House of Wessex project came about.

Archaeological excavations at Sylva Wood Centre September 2016

Archaeological excavations at Sylva Wood Centre September 2016

Sylva quotes

Helena Hamerow said

The idea for the ‘House of Wessex’ project came about as the result of an archaeological excavation by the University of Oxford’s School of Archaeology and Department of Continuing Education on land owned by the Sylva Foundation. The aim of the dig was to establish whether a rectangular cropmark identified in aerial photographs was the footprint of a rare type of building: an Anglo-Saxon hall.  The excavations — directed by DPhil student Adam McBride and Dr Jane Harrison in 2016 – were part of a wider investigation led by Professor Helena Hamerow called ‘The Origins of Wessex’. The project aims to gain a better understanding of the emergence in the Upper Thames valley of a leading dynasty referred to by Bede as the Gewisse, who later became known as the West Saxons.  Long Wittenham seems to have been a key centre of the Gewisse, as indicated by two richly furnished cemeteries excavated here in the 19th century, and a group of cropmarks indicating the presence of a ‘great hall complex’, of which the excavated building appears to be an outlier.

The dig uncovered the foundations of a large timber hall, radiocarbon dated to the seventh century. This period is sometimes known as the ‘Age of Sutton Hoo’ and is the time when the first Anglo-Saxon kingdoms emerged. The dig led to conversations about the importance in the Anglo-Saxon world of timber (an Anglo-Saxon word that referred not only to the building material, but also to building itself). This in turn led the Sylva Foundation to pursue the exciting possibility of reconstructing the building in its original setting.  The project offers researchers as well as the local community an exceptional opportunity to learn more about the resources needed and methods used — as well as the challenges faced — by those who constructed these extraordinary buildings.

Read more about Professor Hamerow on the School of Archaeology pages


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Anglo-Saxon open weekend 13-14 October

posted on
Anglo-Saxon weekend poster-image

Anglo-Saxon weekend poster-image

13 & 14th October, 10am-4pm  *FREE ENTRY*

We have a very exciting programme of activities lined up for our first Anglo-Saxon open weekend, as part of our House of Wessex project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Over the two days we will offer opportunities for all the family to come along and experience a wide range of Anglo-Saxon activities.

  • Watch and learn about Anglo-Saxon treewrighting (not ‘carpentry’!) including cleaving and hewing timbers, and timber framing techniques.
  • Have a go at hurdle making and the opportunity to try your hand at mixing wattle and daub!
  • A thatcher will be holding demonstrations on the thatching techniques to be used for our building.
  • Children can join in milling, from start to finish, to help make bread using a rotary quern-stone.
  • International award-winning living history society, the Wulfheodenas, will be demonstrating a wide range of Anglo-Saxon arts and crafts.  There will be textile production, from fleece to fabric, bone carving, antler working, leather working, jewellery and material making and lots more.
  • Children can listen to an Anglo-Saxon storyteller and learn and play games from this fascinating period in history.   Each tent will have a mini display and people can see and ask questions about each activity.

We look forward to welcoming you and your family. See the event on Facebook.

Location: Sylva Wood Centre, Long Wittenham, OX14 4QT (map)

Read more about the House of Wessex project

 


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Anglo-Saxon Treewrighting course (Day 3) 14Oct2018

posted on August 20, 2018

14th October 2018 (Day 3)

As part of the exciting House of Wessex project we are running three consecutive one-day treewrighting courses with tutors from the Carpenters’ Fellowship. Places are available for one, two, or three days. During the courses, samples will be made of the key building components for a major historical reconstruction taking place in 2019.

House of Wessex timber frame

House of Wessex timber frame

Learning will include a selection of the following:

  • Timber conversion – cleaving and hewing timbers into shape for posts and plates (no saws were used in this period)
  • Foundations – earthfast anchoring of the posts
  • Axe carpentry – The shaping of stubby tusk tenons and through-mortises, grooving boards, fashioning halvings and lap joints
  • Fixings – Shaping the characteristic Saxon “treenails”, a peg with an enlarged head, often wedged internally
  • Walls and roof – creating wattle panels and hurdles, for the walls and the roof underthatch respectively

Full training will be provided (no prior experience necessary). Although you will be working undercover, the course will be ‘outdoors’, so you will need to wear appropriate clothing. Drinks and food will be provided. Overnight camping (bring your own tent) is available on the site. More details will follow your booking.

Carpenters Fellowship

You may book for one or more days, up to a maximum of all three days. Please book separately for each day that you want to attend.

book-now

Read more and Book your place for Day 3 (14 October)

Category: Courses, House of Wessex
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Anglo-Saxon Treewrighting course (Day 2) 13Oct2018

posted on

13th October 2018 (Day 2)

As part of the exciting House of Wessex project we are running three consecutive one-day treewrighting courses with tutors from the Carpenters’ Fellowship. Places are available for one, two, or three days. During the courses, samples will be made of the key building components for a major historical reconstruction taking place in 2019.

House of Wessex timber frame

House of Wessex timber frame

Learning will include a selection of the following:

  • Timber conversion – cleaving and hewing timbers into shape for posts and plates (no saws were used in this period)
  • Foundations – earthfast anchoring of the posts
  • Axe carpentry – The shaping of stubby tusk tenons and through-mortises, grooving boards, fashioning halvings and lap joints
  • Fixings – Shaping the characteristic Saxon “treenails”, a peg with an enlarged head, often wedged internally
  • Walls and roof – creating wattle panels and hurdles, for the walls and the roof underthatch respectively

Full training will be provided (no prior experience necessary). Although you will be working undercover, the course will be ‘outdoors’, so you will need to wear appropriate clothing. Drinks and food will be provided. Overnight camping (bring your own tent) is available on the site. More details will follow your booking.

Carpenters Fellowship

You may book for one or more days, up to a maximum of all three days. Please book separately for each day that you want to attend.

book-now

Read more and Book your place for Day 2 (13 October)

Category: Courses, House of Wessex
Tags:

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Anglo-Saxon Treewrighting course (Day 1) 12Oct2018

posted on

12th October 2018 (Day 1)

As part of the exciting House of Wessex project we are running three consecutive one-day treewrighting courses with tutors from the Carpenters’ Fellowship. Places are available for one, two, or three days. During the courses, samples will be made of the key building components for a major historical reconstruction taking place in 2019.

House of Wessex timber frame

House of Wessex timber frame

Learning will include a selection of the following:

  • Timber conversion – cleaving and hewing timbers into shape for posts and plates (no saws were used in this period)
  • Foundations – earthfast anchoring of the posts
  • Axe carpentry – The shaping of stubby tusk tenons and through-mortises, grooving boards, fashioning halvings and lap joints
  • Fixings – Shaping the characteristic Saxon “treenails”, a peg with an enlarged head, often wedged internally
  • Walls and roof – creating wattle panels and hurdles, for the walls and the roof underthatch respectively

Full training will be provided (no prior experience necessary). Although you will be working undercover, the course will be ‘outdoors’, so you will need to wear appropriate clothing. Drinks and food will be provided. Overnight camping (bring your own tent) is available on the site. More details will follow your booking.

Carpenters Fellowship

You may book for one or more days, up to a maximum of all three days. Please book separately for each day that you want to attend.

book-now

Read more and Book your place for Day 1 (12 October)

Category: Courses, House of Wessex
Tags:

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