How to use the Buckinghamshire's Heritage Portal website


There are a number of ways this website can contribute to the study of history, geography, citizenship and other subjects in the National Curriculum. These are outlines in more detail in each separate package. The use of ICT is encouraged across the curriculum. Buckinghamshire's Heritage Portal has several elements that depend on the use of ICT to research and present information about the past. The database contains over 18,000 records of archaeological sites and finds, historic buildings and landscapes and can be searched in a number of ways. The results of searches, or indeed the searches themselves, can be done using digital mapping, on which you can display historic maps and vertical aerial photographs. Words that are difficult to understand are linked to an illustrated glossary, which can be used in itself as a way to learn archaeological jargon. Finally, there are the interactive reconstructions of, for instance, Tudor rich and poor houses and a virtual excavation that can be used in conjunction with worksheets or as stand-alones.


Searching the database

Buckinghamshire’s Heritage Portal has several different areas that may be of use to teachers. Firstly, there is the searchable database. This can be searched using quick, keyword, advanced or map searches. The keyword search allows you to put in any word as a keyword and specify if you want only records with attached images.


The quick search lets you choose a combination of where, what and when. Each aspect has an attached drop-down list. When gives you a list of time periods by broad names from Palaeolithic to post-medieval. What brings down a list of monument and find types that are in the county. Where gives you a list of parishes. This search can probably be used for many of your searches.


The advanced search allows you to search in many different ways. You will have to choose from three drop-down lists in any one line. The first gives you the choice of name; type/description (where you can choose to search by general and specific monument or find type, event type, monument status, types of evidence and whether the records have images); location (where you can search for parish or give a grid reference); and time period (search by the simple or more specific names or by calendar years). Children may be asked to use this search from time to time in the worksheets.


The results then come up in a table. You can click on the summary to go through to the main record. You can sort the results by clicking the headings at the top, which will sort the records alphabetically or numerically. You can click on the Map the results button at the foot of the page to produce a map showing these results.


The full record gives you a more detailed description, a grid reference, a map and links to related records and any associated images or files. You can print out the record, map, images and associated files to use in class.


Go to the How to use the website worksheet to use in class.


Illustrated glossary


Secondly there are the glossary terms. You can find them at any time by clicking on the Themes list button and then clicking on more… underneath the first few glossary terms. There are also links from words in the records through to the glossary term for an explanation of archaeological terms. You can print these out.

Archaeological words 

The glossary terms are not exhaustive but do cover some of the most common and more outlandish terms used in Buckinghamshire's Heritage Portal. Many of the glossary terms also have accompanying pictures as examples or to illustrate some of the more technical ideas.


They can be browsed by clicking on the Themes List button and then on more… under the first few glossary terms. There are also links from the difficult words so your pupils can easily consult the glossary to work out what a word means as they come upon it.


You can use the Archaeological words worksheet with your pupils to help them get familiar with archaeological words before they do other work on the Unlocking Buckinghamshire's Past website. This helps towards literacy targets as well as learning words associated with history.


The first task involves finding definitions of some of the most widely used and jargonistic terms in archaeology. These are artefact; earthwork; monument; landscape; feature; BC and AD. They are all defined in the glossary. Your pupils may need a bit of help to get their heads around some of the concepts, others are easier to understand.


The worksheet continues with four types of monuments that represent different periods in archaeology: prehistory; Roman; medieval and post-medieval. This is a chance for your pupils to look in depth at what these monuments are and draw a picture of them (from the illustrations in the glossary term) so they understand them completely. They have been given a definition of the monuments and they have to find the word that encapsulates all of the definition. The terms (in order) are barrow, villa, monastery and ha-ha. 


The next task involves sorting a number of words into categories: buildings, earthworks, artefacts and techniques. The children are then asked to give a brief definition of each one. The correct categories for each are:








Saxon coin


Medieval building technique


Medieval earth castle


Dating method using carbon


Saxon axe




Medieval track


Dating method using tree-rings


Roman brooch


Building for the poor


Neolithic processional route


Walking fields to find artefacts


Roman roof tile


Saxon cathedral


Flat ground between banks


Small pit to assess the archaeology


Weight for spinning thread


Store for and maker of ice


Iron Age fortified settlement


Magnetic or electrical survey


Prehistoric axe


Roman heating


Saxon meeting mound


Survey using sticks


Education packages

Thirdly there are the educational worksheets and teacher’s notes. The worksheets are organised into packages:

1. Changes in the landscape

   a. Iron Age to Roman

   b. Saxon to medieval

   c. Post-medieval to nineteenth century


2. Rich and poor

   a. Tudor and Stuart

   b. Eighteenth to nineteenth century


3. Archaeology in local history studies


4. Buckinghamshire in the Wars


5. Virtual Excavation


6. Archaeological skills and concepts


7. Putting Buckinghamshire in context


Teacher’s notes for each package explain how to use the worksheets, have links to internal resources and other websites and suggestions for sites to visit. However, you are welcome to pick and choose the worksheets and tailor them to your needs. Each worksheet can be downloaded as a pdf or a word document.


The packages have been designed with help from teachers and aim to cover history in Buckinghamshire from the Iron Age to the twentieth century. Teachers requested this stress on chronology. There are also many worksheets covering archaeological skills, some of which will be useful when visiting sites and others for working in the classroom. 

Using the worksheets 

There are lots of worksheets that you can use as they are or adapt to your own uses on Buckinghamshire’s Heritage Portal. They have been organised into several thematic topics as outlined above. You are welcome to use any of these outside the suggested structure if you feel they could be relevant, particularly for a local history study.


The worksheets are downloadable as PDF or Word documents and you can preview them online before you print them off. Use the PDFs if you are happy with the worksheets as they are because these tend to be smaller files and easier to download from the internet. Also use PDFs if you want your pupils to work on printed sheets. Download the Word documents if you want to change the worksheet, add more pictures you have found from elsewhere or take out some of the text if you think it is too wordy. Also use the Word documents if you want to your pupils to work on the computer. Alternatively, if you don't like using worksheets, you can use the information on them to guide your pupils through the Buckinghamshire's Heritage Portal database.


If you intend to use a number of these worksheets it may be a good idea to start with those that run through some basic concepts such as the What is archaeology? worksheet and a fun worksheet finding out the meaning of Archaeological words.


Archaeological skills and concepts worksheets, such as map-reading, looking at aerial photographs, artefacts and archaeological site plans, are also important to do before the enquiry worksheets as many of them rely on the children being familiar with these sources of evidence. A list of prerequisites is given with each worksheet.


Many of the worksheets are illustrated and some are linked with more pictures and files. You will also be able to see a list of related glossary terms and navigate to them with links from the online preview of the worksheet so you can print those out before using the worksheets as well. Some of the images cannot be displayed on the website for copyright reasons but teachers can request them. For any of these extra images please contact the Council Archaeology Service.


You will find that each package's teacher’s notes give more detailed advice for how to work through each thematic topic. There are also links to many helpful websites that have helped inform some of the worksheets and could provide further activities. 


Other online resources

English Heritage is the main provider of advice on the historic environment to the government as well as managing many historic houses and archaeological sites that are open to the public. It also manages the systems for protection of the historic environment, listing and scheduling, which will soon be amalgamated into one system of designation.

This is the website of the Council for British Archaeology which has links to many other archaeological sites as well as information on events and the Young Archaeologists Club.

This is the website of the Portable Antiquities Scheme which records artefacts that are found by members of the public. There is a searchable database of images of artefacts. There is also a reconstruction of a Saxon village at

This is the website of Time Team and has information about upcoming programmes as well as details of how to get involved in archaeology and a forum for discussion of archaeological matters. There is also a great virtual excavation game to play called Time Detectives.

This website has information about the Saxon burial site, how to visit it and the resources available to teachers.

The National Trust manages many of the historic properties open to the public in Buckinghamshire. This website has the contact details of all the National Trust properties mentioned as places to visit above.

Museums online:

This is the County Museum for Buckinghamshire, based at Aylesbury. You can arrange school visits to the museum.  

This museum has a school box loan system and you may want to contact them about arranging one in conjunction with the What can archaeological artefacts tell us worksheet.

Archival material online:

This is the National Archive’s learning pages. They have many fantastic online packages exploring primary sources and what they can tell you about various periods and themes in history. This website has a large bibliography of books on the history of Buckinghamshire as well as transcribed historical documents online.