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National Archaeology Day – ‘Medieval Fun at Castle Rushen’ 26 July 2007

Young Visitors take a rest at National Archaeology Day 2007 Last Sunday, visitors to Castle Rushen enjoyed a day of medieval fun organized by Manx National Heritage to celebrate National Archaeology Day 2007.

Visitors were treated to a pole axe and sword fighting demonstration and many took the opportunity to talk to a medieval foot soldier about life while fighting in Sir Thomas Stanley’s army at the Battle of Bosworth. Visitors were also able to meet Sir Thomas Stanley himself as he visited the Castle to inspect his troops!

Andy Johnson, Curator of Field Archaeology for Manx National Heritage, said:

“Everybody seemed to be having a lot of fun at the Castle. Lots of families enjoyed having the opportunity to feel the weight of medieval armor and began to appreciate just how hard life was for the average foot soldier. Many visitors also enjoyed learning about the archaeology of Castle Rushen and discovering how many of the Castle’s secrets were uncovered during excavations in the 1980s”.

Visitors learning the importance of having a coat of armsAmongst the other activities on offer, and after learning about the importance of having a coat of arms to recognize friend from foe on the battle field, many children designed their own very imaginative Coats of Arms to represent their own families.

The fire was roaring in the medieval kitchen where many visitors had a go at helping the kitchen staff make marzipan fruits and sweetmeats during a cookery demonstration about the meals that would have been prepared at Castle Rushen including pottage, a type of medieval broth which was prepared over the open fire.

Visitors learn how to make medieval toothpasteFor those who felt a little under the weather there was a ‘wise woman’ on hand to prescribe traditional medicines for common ailments such having a melancholic temperament and the gruesome process of blood letting was explained in gory detail!

Joining in the event and the fun were volunteers from the Friends of Manx National Heritage, who along with others, helped visitors make the most of their day and ensured all activities ran smoothly. The volunteers involved with this year’s event also offered children and grown ups alike the chance to try their hand at an assortment of medieval games, including nine men’s morris and shove ha’penny.

Nicola Pemberton Development & Admin Officer for the Friends of Manx National Heritage said:

“It was excellent to see so many visitors really enjoying themselves at the National Archaeology Day celebrations, at the same time as learning more about Castle Rushen and some traditional medieval pastimes. For our volunteers it was also another great way for them to get involved that was both fulfilling and good fun.”

Castle Rushen is part of the award-winning Story of Mann and is open daily from 10am to 5pm throughout the summer.

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