Large multi-period festival with many expert speakers and living history encampments from the Bronze age to WWII. Held in a beautiful bowl valley of rural chalk downland with some fantastic wildlife.
Lovely to see so many dedicated reenactors from so many different periods in history. One of the charms of Chalke Valley is the unusual combinations of people from different times interacting – Romans, Vikings, Tudor and WWI soldiers conversing while a Spitfre flys overhead. The kindness and co-operation between the participants was particulaly overwhelming this year. We had several offers of assistance to move our tent, stock, etc. and many sympathetic conversations about the ankle-deep mud in our area of the site!
Unfortunately we were unable to stay for the second day, as the mud and flooding in our area of the site had become unmanageable. Luckily our wools and tents survived!
Our first week-long event! It was very hot all week, and the tents which we brought in case of rain were used for shade instead. We were showing the story of cloth and teaching practical fibrecraft skills to primary school groups (years 3 to 6), a college group and a group of “the stitchers”, who volunteer for the museum making childrens costumes. A highlight of our experience was to be able to work with such a great group of museum volunteers over the week, who looked after the schools very well indeed, and helped our busy days run smoothly.
On the afternoon of the first day, we were given a sheep, which has been in one of the museum galleries for about 20 years, and they wanted to get rid of her! We’ve named her Gladys. She was very useful explaining to children where wool comes from, and we’ll do our best to give her a good home.
It was also great for the visitors to be there for so long, as we had time to set up some of the more complicated secondary coloured dyestuffs, which the groups visiting on Thursday and Friday really appreciated.
We’ve been asked to help Ufton Court design a prehistoric village for their Education department, to help them deliver the new Primary History curriculum, which focuses significantly more on prehistory than previously.
On a gloriously sunny spring day, we planted a living willow Viking longship as part of their new archaeological village. Soon there will be also an Iron Age roundhouse and a Saxon house for school groups to use too. Look out Saxons, there may be some Viking invasions!