Guidelines for the use of Kings Highway of Severn

Activity title:
Kings Highway of Severn

Curriculum area: History

NC objectives: History: 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 2c, 2d, 3, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 7, 8a, 8b, 9, 10, 11a.

Main learning objective: To provide an understanding of the variety of cargo that was carried on the River Severn and the importance of Gloucester as a port.

Lesson plan ideas, activities and resource sheets

10 minutes

  • Explain that since medieval times, the River Severn was one of the most important trade routes in Britain. Discuss with the class why they think this was (lack of roads, no railways, therefore fastest & easiest way to carry cargoes). Also introduce the idea of imports, exports and trans-shipment (moving cargo from one ship to another).

MAIN ACTIVITY: 20 minutes

  • Provide class with ‘5.3a Gloucester Port Books’. Explain that the Gloucester was the most important port on the River Severn and one of the most important historical records about the river trade and shipping are the Gloucester Port Books. Whenever a ship passed or stopped at Gloucester, officials would record the ship’s name, where it was from, where it was going to, the name of the captain, the owner of the cargo and lastly the amount and type of cargo the ship was carrying.

  • The task is to read a page taken from the port book and answer questions about it. This can be done singly, in pairs or by tables.

PLENARY: 30 minutes

  • Move around the class and allow pupils to read their answers aloud to the class. The rest of the class can listen and correct any mistakes.

  • Each question has a discussion point. Use this as a basis to expand the lesson as required.

Suggested extension activities or cross curricular links:

  • Link to mathematics.

  • IT – research the imperial and pre-imperial units of weight/volume

  • Geography – try to locate departure ports and destinations.


5-3 Guidelines - Kings Highway of Severn

5-3a Gloucester Port Books

5-3b Answers - Gloucester Port Books