Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Conquest at Kenilworth Castle

It's been a few weeks since I blogged, but I hope to get up and running again now (as you'll all have read, I've had some disruption with e-mails too, but the new address is on the right sidebar and I'll keep it there for a while).
I'm back from a research break/holiday in Yorkshire that I'll be blogging about soon, but first up I thought I'd ease myself back into blogging by posting about a recent re-enactment event at Kenilworth Castle for English Heritage. No pictures of me (probably a relief :-) ) because I was behind the camera taking the photographs.
As I often mention, I'm a member of Regia Anglorum re-enactment society Sometimes though, I go to play with friends in other societies, and this was one of those occasions when I went along as a guest member of Conquest, who do Norman, Angevin and Plantagenet Living History.
I love attending these events because I always find out things I didn't know.
Here's a picture gallery of show and tell - enjoy! You can enlarge any picture by clicking on it.

Talking to medieval surgeon Toby Whittey, I was fascinated to learn about the thread used as sutures for stitching
up wounds. Silk sometimes, but if that wasn't available, then horse-tail hair was the usual alternative, preferably from a stallion as apparently a stallion produces finer tail hair than a mare! Toby's stitching kit also included staples to hold the wound together while it was stitched, and goose feathers. The shafts of the goose feathers are used in cases where the doughty surgeon has to removed a barbed arrow from a wound. The quills are slipped onto the tines of the barb, thus minimising the damage as the arrow head is withdrawn.
Toby was also practising his trepanning skills with a tool copied from a 12thc treatise on medieval surgery - essential for men in the field struck on the skull and suffering from compression. It would be their one (slim) chance of survival.

Tony's stichery kit complete
with horsehair suture.
Click to enlarge! Apparently
modern gynaecological needles
aren't much smaller - yikes!

A spot of trepanning practice

More tools of the trade. Love the
dried frog in the foreground!

Tony's display and demonstration were only part of the day's delights. There was also a wise woman displaying her crafts, a woodturner and a weaver. Authentic food was provided on both days, being assorted pies on day one, and a stuffed salmon baked in a salt crust on day two. Various nibbles such as gingerbread, cheese and seasonal fruits were also on the menu.

Something to drink... (would have been alcoholic back in the day, but modern men who are going on the battlefield are not permitted intoxicating brews for health and safety reasons!).

Pies and a plum and apple compote from the visitor's tent.

Fishy goings on. The Salmon awaits his salt crust cover.

Weaving on a handloom. The end result
is going to be a tunic.
Click to enlarge

'Tigwald', busy at his wood turning with
the walls of Kenilworth Castle in

Tigwald's rather spiffy brooch. I love
seeing replica details like this in 3D
because the touch and feel add that
extra dimension when it comes to
the writing. Click on photo to enlarge.

A board game

A deacon's outfit.

A baron's private devotional in his campaign tent.

Preparing for battle. Where are the squires
when you need them? Probably at the
food tent!

Guard duty late 12thC style

Bring on the archers - standard archer
and crossbowman. The latter apparently
were much feared because it didn't take
years of training. Half an hour and anyone
could kill a king - and one did at Chalus
Chabrol. The sniper weapon of the 12th
and 13thC

Fearsome posing in well-fought kit


Meghan said...

This is so interesting and informative! Thanks for sharing and especially for all the wonderful pictures.

Robinbird said...

Thanks so much for sharing! I would love to be a part of something like this. Really interesting photos!

Anne Gilbert said...

As usual, the pictures were amazing and evocative. Thank you very much.
Anne G

Malin said...

I'm impressed by how authentic everything seem! I've been to some medieval markets in Sweden but they are more for the fun of it, I suspect, with only vague historical references. The surgeon's kit was real interesting - I'm a horse person but I've never realised stallion's had finer tail hair than mares. I'd say it also depends on where the horse is bred. Our Spanish pony had real thick and rough tail and mane, while our warmbloods had softer and silkier hair.

Thanks for sharing the information!

Carla said...

Terrific photographs - thanks for posting! What was the salmon stuffed with?

Sharon Kay Penman said...

These are great photos, Elizabeth. I've always thought that writers benefited from "visuals" like this. It is one thing to read a description of a medieval sword, quite another to see a depiction of one or to watch one in action at Kenilworth, hopefully stopping short of decapitation. Do you think that your associaton with a Re-enactment Society has helped to give your books their aura of gritty reality?

The Prodigal Tourist said...

Save some of those pies for me! Sounds like a great visit, thanks for sharing.

Elizabeth said...

Thank you for the post! I've always been interested in older medical practices. I appreciate the fact that techniques used during the "dark ages" are still useful to us! I think one of the more interesting methods was the use of spiderwebs to cover a wound. I would have loved to been at such an event - what a wonderful source of information :)