Tag Archives: Celts

Field Trip to Butser Ancient Celtic Farm

Butser Ancient Celtic Farm - navigating by joy homeschoolers

What better way to round off our study of the Celts than to visit a “real” (reconstructed) Celtic village?  I love the way learning leads the way to new experiences – I didn’t even know Butser Ancient Celtic Farm existed until recently, and there it was just 40 minutes’ drive away, waiting for us to spend a very pleasant Sunday exploring.

Everything at the Farm has been constructed using authentic Celtic/Iron Age materials. The houses looked just like our model Celtic Roundhouse (not! :-D)

The Farm was having a Celtic weekend when we visited, which meant there were lots of hands-on activities to try.

C ground grain into flour (rather coarse flour – apparently Celts’ teeth were very worn down!).

Butser Ancient Celtic Farm - navigating by joy homeschoolers

She mixed flour, yeast, oats and water to make a kind of bread which she baked on a Celtic stove.

Butser Ancient Celtic Farm - navigating by joy homeschoolers

She also made yarn out of sheep’s wool.

Butser Ancient Celtic Farm - navigating by joy homeschoolers

We crushed chalk, used for building roundhouses and levelling their floors.

Butser Ancient Celtic Farm - navigating by joy homeschoolers

There was even a mock archaeological “dig”!

The site also houses a reconstructed Roman villa …

Butser Ancient Celtic Farm - navigating by joy homeschooling

…complete with underfloor heating.

Butser Ancient Celtic Farm - Navigating by joy homeschooling

There was an opportunity to make mosaics in the Roman house.

mosaic making at butser ancient farm - navigating by joy homeschoolers

While C was baking, spinning and grinding,  J was hunting around the village for the answers to a scavenger-hunt-style quiz on Celtic kings and Roman emperors.

Our field trip was a perfect complement to our study of the Celts and a great introduction to the Romans. 🙂

How to Make a Model Celtic Roundhouse

how to make a model Celtic Roundhouse at navigating by joy homeschoolers
This full-size model was not made by us 🙂

Who knew making a model Celtic roundhouse could be so easy?

As our year studying Ancient History draws to a close, we’ve returned – for the first time since we looked at Stonehenge – to the ancient peoples who lived in our part of the world:  the Celts.

I like to use living books as much as possible, but I didn’t find many on the Celts suitable for younger children, so I decided to go hands-on instead.

how to make a model Celtic Roundhouse at navigating by joy homeschoolersAt our library we found Step Into The Celtic World.  I asked C which of the projects appealed to her and she chose the model Celtic Roundhouse. This tied in perfectly with my plan to visit a local Celtic Ancient Farm!

We only loosely followed the book instructions, partly because I’m not very good at following  instructions (or even reading them – ahem), and partly because the dowel rods I ordered online took several weeks to arrive.  (Big J later told me I could have picked some up at the local DIY store;  I have much to learn about hands-on project supplies.)

What you need for your model Celtic roundhouse

  • A long strip of card (for the walls of the house)
  • Straw (available from pet shops as pet bedding)
  • Plasticine (for the walls).  I found this animators’ plasticine alternative very cheaply on Amazon
  • A large, thick piece of card for the roof
  • Glue

How to Construct the Roundhouse

how to make a model Celtic Roundhouse at navigating by joy homeschoolers

1. Cover the long strip of cardboard (wall) with a thin layer of plasticine.

2. Press scraps of straw into the walls. (I forgot to get a photo of this.)

3. Stand the wall up in a circle shape, leaving a gap for the doorway. You might want to use tape or glue to attach it to a base to help it stand up. (The photo below was taken before pressing the straw into the walls.)

how to make a model Celtic Roundhouse at navigating by joy homeschoolers

4. Cut out a cardboard circle for the roof.  Make it into a cone shape that overhangs the walls.

5. Now for the messy bit.  Cover the roof with straw, using glue to stick it on. The picture in our book showed long neat strands of straw coming together in an orderly thatch. I used our guinea pigs’ bedding, which gave a slightly different effect! But as I told C and J, the Celts used whatever materials were available locally to build their houses. 😉


Our Celtic Roundhouse may not be the prettiest ever, but we were pleased with it. We had so much fun working on it together, and it enhanced our later visit to Butser Celtic Farm.

I’ve been wanting  to do more hands-on projects as part of our homeschool.  They’re memorable and fun, and this is the age to do them (my kids are 7 and 8). My lack of practicality – combined with perfectionist tendencies – has held me back in the past, so I was very pleased that we got round to making our roundhouse!

Have you made a model Celtic Roundhouse? I’d love to hear how you got on. 🙂


Yay, we got to Britain in our History Odyssey  ancient history study – “Europe Builds Monuments”!  J was quite excited to be finding out about the place Doctor Who’s Cybermen visited … 😐

We’ve passed Stonehenge several times in the car this year, on our way to and from Centerparcs. I now wish we’d taken  the short detour to park the car and get up close – next time! –  but at least I remembered to get the children to pause their car DVD players as we drove by!

The Amazing Pop-Up Stonehenge is not quite a living book, but its cool pop-up and lift-the-flap type features more than make up for anything lacking in the text, and its short paragraphs conveyed enough information to arouse the children’s curiosity.  I was on the verge of losing J at one point during a paragraph about how sloping holes were dug for the stones, so – necessity being the mother of invention – I brought out moonsand, wooden blocks and playmobil people, and the children created their own “Stonehenges” (I did point out the scale inaccuracies!).  They also had fun burying playmobil weapons and armour in the sand and then, as archaeologists, uncovering the artefacts!

Stones were rolled using “logs”
A “barrow” (burial mound) – you can just see the tip of the buried person!

We finished by watching Making History: Secrets of Stonehenge (45 minutes) on YouTube.  In between the historical narrative and interviews, this documentary features a digitally-enhanced re-enactment of how the huge bluestones were moved and erected, and in addition shows how the special effects were created – highly recommended if your children, like mine, have in the past attempted their own green screen effects!

Later I found this in the garden:

Times like this you can forgive the use of your peg basket to carry dirt…
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