The Roman Box

Author: Tim Taylor
Theme: The Roman Box
Age Range: KS2 – updated for C2014
Main Curriculum Focus: History
Inquiry Question: HistoryInvaders & Settlers
Expert Team: Archaeologists
Client(s): Local museum
Commission(s): 1. To examine the contents of a Roman security box
2. To recreate the stories behind the artefacts for the museum.
3. To research and communicate to visitors to the museum the history of the box and the historical context of the Roman invasions and the Iceni revolt.

Commissioned by a local museum, the initial investigation for the archaeology team is to examine the Roman security box and its contents. Then, by studying the artefacts try and piece together the stories behind the box: Why was it buried? Why are some of the objects so ordinary? What happened to the people that buried it? Why did no one come back and reclaim it?

By using their historical research and creative thinking skills the team reconstruct the events surrounding the hiding of the box and the lives of the people who buried it. As their studies broaden the team examine the historical context surrounding the event -the Roman invasions, the Iceni revolt, the colonisation of Britain – and the impact these events and processes had on the history of Britain and its people.

This unit can be downloaded either as a Pdf, a Word document or directly into your profile on SchoolHub.
As a Word document – click here
As a Pdf – click here

Note: You can enlarge the mindmap on the Pdf to view or print out on A3

File size: doc (2.2MB); Pdf (2.3MB)
Pages: 19
Word count: 6,000


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  1. Dawn Booth August 11, 2017 at 11:13 am #


    I love your plans and ideas. Could you tell me what sort of things you actually put in the box, I may have missed in it your plans but I could not quite see what items you had compiled which looked authentic enough to be in a Roman box.


    • Tim Taylor August 12, 2017 at 11:46 am #

      Thanks Dawn, I’m glad you find the plans useful. The objects found in the box by the archaeologists are created by the students in the form of drawings. Of course the children don’t know what they don’t know so the teacher has to provide them with resources – pictures from the internet, ‘topic’ books, etc – of authentic Roman artefacts, which the students can then use as templates for their own ideas. It is the teacher’s task to support the students and discuss with them what these objects are likely to be. If the children create drawings of objects that wouldn’t be in a Roman box (which in my experience doesn’t happen very often, but can do occasionally) then the teacher works with them (and possibly the rest of the class) to change the picture. For example, a student draws a picture of a gun. Teacher, “This looks like a gun, are you saying the archaeologists are going to find a gun in the box?” Student nods. “I see. I’m afraid this isn’t going to work, guns weren’t invented for another thousand years. However, if you want a weapon, the archaeologists could find one of those. [Teacher picks up a topic book] Let’s take a look in here and see if there is one that might be suitable.” In this way supporting the student by using their idea, but altering slightly to fit the historical context – kind of: ‘Yes, but…’

      Your question highlights an important aspect of this approach that is sometimes misunderstood. In imaginative inquiry the teacher does not leave the children to their misconceptions, and just because the students have the freedom to invent what the archeologists find in the box, does not mean they have the license to invent things that wouldn’t be there if the box was real.

      I hope this helps. And thank you again for your question.

      • Dawn Booth August 15, 2017 at 8:28 am #

        Thank you Tim for your prompt reply and that makes more sense now, I was thinking too literally of a real box rather than an imaginary one. I would also love your thoughts on how you introduce the ‘expert of the mantle’ concept to chn before you begin. As I am new to this particular method I was wondering how you approach it with a class of year 3s. How much do you discuss with them that they are going to be ‘experts’ or does it just evolve? Any help gratefully received.

        • Tim Taylor August 26, 2017 at 6:29 pm #

          Hi Dawn, the ‘mantle’ of their expertise develops from their interaction with the context and their research into the artefacts as they create them for the box. It is difficult to advice you on how much time you should spend discussing their role (and yours) as experts, this is a matter of judgement and is dependant on how quickly the students grasp the idea. For more information on this subject might I recommend this book,

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