English Heritage cares for over 400 buildings, monuments and places including world famous prehistoric sites, grand medieval castles and Roman forts – even a Cold War bunker. Our sites need a lot of care to ensure that our heritage is preserved for all to enjoy and our success is reliant on the dedication of the people who work for us, including our large team of Volunteers.
In today’s challenging times, it is important that we look after ourselves and it is well known that volunteering and connecting to the outdoors are two ways that can help to improve mental and physical wellbeing. Volunteering with English Heritage can combine both as well as providing opportunities for home based work. With such a diverse range of places to volunteer, there are roles for everybody – welcoming visitors and bringing history to life, researching England’s story or even bee keeping or looking after the donkeys who operate the well at Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight!
I’m very lucky to work at a place whose history spans over 4000 years, has over 40 acres of woodland and a busy volunteer programme – Beeston Castle in Cheshire. Last year the Volunteers built a reconstructed Bronze Age Roundhouse, based on post hole evidence found at Beeston. They worked outdoors in all weathers using only hand tools and a lot of physical work. They learnt ancient building techniques and used only basic tools – saws hadn’t been invented in the Bronze Age! It was not just about building, Volunteers performed a whole host of activities, Explainers, Photographers, Researchers, Social Media and Admin to name just a few. There was even a Poet (dubbed The Bard of Beeston) who wrote verses and songs capturing the experience in rhyme.
In Spring the woodland was filled with the sound of bronze axes and the tapping of woodpeckers. In Summer the buzzing of insects and the chattering of voices as the Explainers brought history to life for visitors. In Autumn, the rustle of falling leaves spinning over the Roundhouse thatch and children splashing in puddles and in Winter, the crackling of a warm fire in the hearth as the snow fell silently around.
This achievement epitomises what volunteering with English Heritage is all about, working together to create a lasting legacy and to bring history to life. It involves teamwork, belonging and community, friendship and support, achievement and pride, joy and satisfaction – in a beautiful historical setting.
There is always enough time in the day to just enjoy the moment, listen to the sounds of birds singing or take a stroll though the shady woodland. Enough time to climb the high crag and feel the wind in your hair. Enough time to gaze at the ancient landscape and feel that connection to the Earth, old as Time itself. Time to know that you are making a huge difference with the gift of YOUR time and to know that what you do as a volunteer is writing your time in a new chapter of history.
You can find out more about volunteering with English Heritage by following this link:-