2016 Schoolroom

Reciting Homer 1 *

The Reading Ancient Schoolroom welcomed just over 100 participants on 27th and 28th January 2016. Above, girls from Farnborough Hill school recite Homer from papyrus rolls with Emma Aston. Below, girls prepare to do those recitations by reading the papyri.


Participants also practiced writing on wax-covered wooden tablets.

Writing on tablets 1 *.jpg

Participants also learned to write with reed pens on ostraca (pieces of broken pottery); the ostracon below contains the Greek alphabet, and the papyri contain the Iliad (in Dryden’s English translation).

Writing 20 *.jpg

New this year were an abacus and counting boards for the maths teacher, who made Roman numerals far more fun than anyone had thought they could be.


Maths 9 *

Students waiting to enter the schoolroom learned how to write Roman graffiti with quill pens.


After leaving the schoolroom, participants were treated to an object-handling session in the Ure museum.


The schoolroom is staffed entirely by volunteers, and we would like to express profound gratitude to all the 2016 volunteers: Reading Classics staff Eleanor Dickey, Emma Aston, Christa Gray, Amy Smith, Peter Kruschwitz, Barbara Goff, and Bill Beck; Ure museum staff and volunteers Jayne Holly-Waite and Charlotte Williams; Reading graduate student Kate Cook; Reading undergraduates Katie Taylor, Charles Stewart, Charlotte Edwards, Alexandra Turner, Simone Knol, Freya Hendy, Clare Lehovsky, Tania Spicer, Lydia Walmsley, Tamsyn Rowe-Hellewell, and Anna Godsell; and Oxford Classicists Philomen Probert, Daniela Colomo, and Dawn LaValle.

Katie and Christa:

Katie and Christa

Emma and Charles:

Charles and Emma


Charlotte 1




Daniela 1


Dawn 1


What is the Reading ancient schoolroom?

This is a project to enable modern students to find out first-hand what the ancient world was really like by attending a re-created ancient school. Based on meticulous research into schooling in the ancient world (much of it conducted at the University of Reading), the Reading ancient schoolroom takes place in a replica of an ancient classroom, in which all participants wear Roman costumes and use replica ancient writing materials including wax tablets, styluses, reed pens, inkwells, ostraca, and papyrus. Students practice the type of exercises that were commonly done in ancient schools (normally in English, though Latin and Greek are also available on request), and do so in a setting that uses the ancient rather than modern educational conventions. These conventions include a mixed-age classroom in which each student is engaged in a different task, no lecturing from the teacher, and students working individually at their own pace.

The schoolroom was open for the first time on 19 November 2014 (you can read more about that event here) and by popular demand will be back on 15 and 16 December 2015 (find out how to reserve your place here). It is provided free of charge by the Classics department of the University of Reading and is run entirely by volunteers (find out how to volunteer here). Photographs of the 2014 event can be found here.

2015 Schoolroom

The Reading ancient schoolroom will return on 15 and 16 December 2015. We hope to see you there!

Bookings for individuals will open in September; it is not possible to reserve individual places at this time.

Bookings for school groups are now open; to reserve a place contact E.Dickey@reading.ac.uk with the name of your school and the approximate numbers and years of students. Please note the following:

The maximum group size is 30, including teachers.

Our expected age range for participants is 12-18; it may be possible to bring younger children, but please discuss this with us in advance.

Visits take approximately 2 hours from arrival on campus to departure.

Each group will need an individual time slot, but we cannot reserve these until teachers have permission from their school authorities for the visit and can confirm their attendance; provisional bookings guarantee a slot at the event during school hours but do not have specific dates and times attached.