Rachel completed the 'Communicating the Past' module in 2020. She created an escape room themed on Hadrian's Wall.
Tell us about your project...
"I worked in a group with two friends to create an escape room themed around Hadrian’s Wall. Our premise was that the conservation and excavation of the Wall was under threat from a lack of funding (with the outbreak of Covid-19 later in the term, this imagined scenario became a reality), and participants had to act as archaeologists to collect evidence from the site before funding ran out.
As the participants solved the puzzles, they gathered the codes and information required to break the final puzzle and escape the room. We combined physical puzzles, hidden codes and information on different aspects of the Wall to create an enjoyable educational experience."
What made you choose this topic?
"All of the members of my group had completed Roman archaeology modules and we had also enjoyed Professor Will Bowden’s lectures on Roman Britain during the first-year 'Archaeology of Britain' module, so we decided to stick with the Romans for our project.
We chose to focus on Hadrian’s Wall because we wanted to explore the ideas of Romanisation and multiculturalism, and the Wall provided the perfect context. Choosing to set all this within an escape room seemed like a mad idea at first (especially as I had never even been to one myself), but we were determined that our project would be unique!"
What did you enjoy the most about your project?
"My favourite part of the project was testing the escape room. Watching my friends and family excitedly race round the room to solve the puzzles was so rewarding after months of hard work. There was a huge sense of relief in seeing the puzzles work on both a physical and educational level, and I was very proud of what we had accomplished as a group."
Some of the props we made:
Did you learn anything new, or surprising?
"Having never studied Hadrian’s Wall itself, most of the knowledge I gained was new to me. I was surprised by the extent to which multiculturalism did exist at the Wall, as a common view is that it was a place of frontiers and division. I also learnt a lot about escape rooms and puzzles for this project, from how to structure a puzzle sequence to where to hide the clues."
Would you recommend this module?
"Yes! The opportunities for creativity and the chance to experiment with different ways of learning make Communicating the Past ideal for anyone who wants a break from the more traditional modules. I was given freedom to tailor my project to my own interests, and the planning and time-management skills I gained prepared me for writing my dissertation in third year."