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Free Heritage Skills Workshops for volunteers!

Thanks to National Lottery players, Jarrow Hall has received funding to develop a programme of free heritage skills workshops for volunteers to learn from experts.

This allows us to bring our ‘village’ to life – filling it with people engaged in activities that aren’t often seen today. The village recreates what life may have looked like when Bede grew up. Getting a chance at hands-on history allows visitors to understand the past and the changes today, it offers an emotional tie hard to get by reading signs alone. 

In return for committing to volunteer 2 days a month, you can take paid in our free expert workshops. Each workshop will have a signup form online (or ask a member of staff in the museum to help you fill it out) to claim the day you can do. Anyone interested is encouraged to sign up for a skill (or more!) and learn all about it through our workshops. You can also join our research group to influence the project with what you learn. This means volunteers can choose the skills they are interested in – no one is expected to climb scaffolding to thatch a roof if they wanted a chat while they made baskets! 

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So how does the project work?

Find out about the project

Attend one of our outreach sessions, drop in on a Friday or talk to a member of staff

Have a chat with the team

Tell us what skills you are interested in learning and check this project is the right fit

Sign up as a volunteer

Start getting involved with demonstrations in the village by shadowing other volunteers


Sign up for a workshop

Is there an expert led workshop coming up you'd love to take part in? Apply using this link so you don't miss out on picking the day that works best for you

Help Out

Volunteers use their new skills in the village and help run sessions teaching them to newer volunteers and the public

So what is the 'Village'?

Our collection of re(constructed) Anglo Saxon buildings were built in the 1990s to show what housing looked like when Bede grew up. They are based on the remains of other sites in Northumberland but all that was left was the post holes and footprint.

Experimental archaeologists build structures like this to help them test their ideas about how people in the past made and used the original buildings. This means they were not designed to last over 30 years and now need repairing.

Luckily, this time has also meant that archaeologists have learnt a lot more now about how they would have looked.

This is our chance to repair the village and bring it to life, using the skills we learn in the workshops – but we need volunteers to help!

So what are we doing to the buildings?

This would have been where those of the higher status lived, and so we want to make it more decorative and grander in our repairs. We are adding:

– Raking Posts (supportive diagonal beams outside)

– A Partition Wall –

– A planked floor maybe even with a mezzanine!

– Repairing the thatched roof

– New layer of daub and lime wash for smoother walls

– Painting Anglo-Saxon patterns on the inner walls

– Benches

– Chests

– Tables

– Household items like pottery, baskets, candles and more!

This would have been where a monk studies and slept so we want to make it cosy and covered in his research notes. Improvements include:

– A Planked floor

– Rethatch the top ridge

– A Scriptorium: a slanted desk for writing manuscripts on

– A chair

– A bed

– Manuscripts

– Books

– Decorative items like candles and ink pots 

In spring 2021 we started a project to build a new experimental reconstruction of an Anglo-Saxon style grubenhaus. Volunteers worked with an expert and learned how to use traditional tools, like axes and billhooks, to cut and shape the raw materials needed to build a structure.

Since then volunteers have continued to work on the building by making wattle and daub walls, levelling the floor, and designing interior features.

We want to make this an extra space to practice crafts performed in a village such as weaving and basketry!




Weekly Activities


Volunteers can arange with each other and staff when to come in to practise their crafts. This meets the project can fit around any prior commitments and suit your needs. 

This is also how we will arrange practice sessions for  the more DIY style crafts such as woodwork, metal work and structural work. 

A newsletter goes out each week saying when volunteers have arranged to meet up and what’s planned – some weeks this may be helping clear space or smaller subprojects like building animal shelters.


Wednesday evening is the Heritage Skills Project Brainstorm.

Online 5.30 -6.30

This is your chance to help shape the project! Chose when to come practice the skills with other volunteers and staff, plan what you can offer a Saturday Sneak Peek of down the village and help us make decisions about what else you’d love to try or know more about.


Drop-In between 10 am – 1 pm.

Open to everyone – you don’t have to be a volunteer!

This is your chance to learn more about the project, socialise and try out our table-top craft skills such as embroidery, leatherwork and calligraphy.

It’s when volunteers get together to practice these skills and we make items to help bring the village to life – and the clothing for volunteers to wear.

Work on what you started a previous week or swap skills to learn a new one.

You don’t need to come for the whole time – crafting goes on throughout but we do have extra activities at different times:

This is the time to talk to our team about the project and what you can get involved in! 

  • Take a look around the village and talk to our volutneers about what they’ve been up to.
  • Have a taster of the craft group and the sort of activities you can do.
  • Get help signing up for sessions or to be a volunteer.

Between roughly 11 am – 12 pm will be a discussion about a craft and how the Anglo-Saxon’s used it. Focused on offering more context to the crafts, this is just a chance to chat about a topic – it is not a lecture don’t worry!

Previous topics have included how they got the Flax plant to become linen fabric, and how looms worked to weave on.

This is also a brilliant time to ask if there’s a craft you’d love to learn as our team can research if it was used and talk about it the following week – along with seeing what we can try!

Wednesdays 12 – 1 pm

This is the chance for you to help shape the project by choosing which designs we use for wall painting, embroidery, costume making and more! 

For example, how do we combine different Anglo-Saxon patterns? How do we lay out furniture?


Volunteers practice their skills down the ‘village’, helping bring it to life.

This is a chance for the public to ask their questions and discover the project – maybe that’s how you found this page! See the transformations we make to the buildings as they happen!


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  • Expert Workshop
  • Heritage Skills
  • Weekly
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