Much of the work of the Causeway Museum Service (CMS) is outreach- based, working with local communities, as well as working with local museum collections. This approach to historical work engages participants by encouraging them to share their expertise, tell their own story and providing the means to assist communities do heritage work in a contested society.
As part of their mission and objectives, two aspects are worth noting. They seek to:
• Enable active citizenship by the widest range of people, especially our young
• Give context to the present acknowledging the contributions of the past
As part of the PEACE III Cultural Connections Programme 2009 - 2011, CMS engaged local community groups in exploring the legacy of 17th century Plantation across the Causeway area, which included participating in University of Ulster Centre for Maritime Studies archaeological excavations at Dunluce Castle. Activities supporting that work included exploring other archaeological sites at Dungiven Priory, Movanagher, Goodland and Coleraine and working with museums to co-curate an exhibition.
The emphasis on archaeology in the landscape as part of learning about the legacy of Plantation enabled a ‘hands-on’ approach for heritage education.
What worked well and what, if anything, didn't?
Projects like this can play an important role in challenging current perspectives, raising awareness and creating better understanding about the wider context of the past. Excavation of Dunluce Castle has shown that there are Irish, Scottish and English histories present in the building. For some participants, this helped them be able to understand that the history of the site doesn’t belong to just one community; it belongs to us all. Archaeological exploration helps participants understand that there is still so much about the past that we don’t know and how much of our historical understanding is based on assumptions or interpretations.
The discovery by community participants of items untouched for 400 years provided a visceral experience with a lasting legacy.
Contact Helen Perry, Causeway Museum Service Officer at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 028 7034 7234.