Jewellery Quarter Cemeteries Project
Our stones our stories: Celebrating the development of multi-cultural Birmingham.
Running since early May 2022, we meet weekly to do a classroom session then go out to the local cemeteries to do a hands on session looking at the history of the cemeteries, the stones, the burial practices, the people being commemorated (including their culture in context) and the archaeology of the memorials.
What do we mean by ‘culture in context’?
A developing Birmingham invited progressive people. This brought people from around the world to Birmingham, some of them ended up in cemeteries like the Key Hill and Warstone Lane cemeteries.
What we do?
A typical afterschool club session is split into two parts – a classroom section and a activity.
The classroom sessions have been about the local area and how the architecture of the buildings around the Jewellery Quarter reflect the building use and the practical side of the work being undertaken.
We have had some great discussions with the youngsters about heritage, culture, commemoration, colonialism, context and memorials.
Following a classroom session, we have activities that have involved things such as writing with dipping pens, taking a tour of the Key Hill and Warstone Lane cemeteries, looking at buildings of the Jewellery Quarter – once all factories and workhouses and now many of them homes, family oral histories (recording a chat around questions about moving to and living in Birmingham).
We took a tour of both cemeteries and looked at the memorials, the names and dates, and with the incredible stories from Rahma & Zak who talked to us about their research into some of the people (see the ‘Colonialism Connections’ tour for some of them).
The project includes some field archaeology …excavating, recording, photographing, reporting and presentation of the work.
What are the youngsters getting out of it?
A respect for each other and other people, particularly the folks buried in the cemetery.
Regardless of cultural differences, the people in the cemeteries were people of Birmingham – however they got there – and though their stories or circumstances were sometimes tragic, sometimes awe-inspiring, they have a place in Birmingham’s history and heritage.
Have you got a project?
If you have a project you would like help with, we have the specialist staff and the resources to help you and the youngsters learn by getting involved.
Have a look at our working with us page for more information.