Want to go back in time? Visit History Live!

We went as a family to History Live at Kelmarsh Hall last weekend. It's English Heritage's flagship re-enactment event and all history is there. Choose an era and there was probably somebody dressed in the costume to meet with and talk to.
The event had a choice of arenas to watch different re-enactments in. We really enjoyed the Roman army being put through their paces and cheered when they made the Testudo (tortoise). There was a little lad next to us aged 8 or 9 who was obviously a Roman fan in his helmet and armour who positively jumped up and down when he saw the shields go up.

But from Romans to Roses and on to WW1 and 2 there was something for everyone. It was very boy's History, all battles and burly men, but that's not a criticism. So often a museum, by dint of being enclosed or static or just keen to follow the National Curriculum is restricted to the how we lived and forgets that throughout history it is the STORY that gets people's interest. And there is something weirdly magnetic about the clang of steel on steel and the grunting effort to drive your enemy back and pinion them to the ground. The re-enactors are real enthusiasts and happy to talk about their time period. I got scolded for calling somebody a Viking when, as he sharply said, he was patently an 8th century Anglo Saxon. Ok, whatever, but to the untrained eye he radiated scandi chic, with his cape and furs.
Giles Kristian is the guy on the left in a black top, not the one with a big heavy helmet covering his face.

I am, of course, Danish this year so I was really keen to see any sign of the Vikings or Vikingic warriors. The event did not disappoint. And an added bonus was free lectures in the BBC History Magazine tent. I took DP (bookworm aged 16) to see a cracking author,
Giles Kristian. He writes historical novels set in viking times or during the English Civil War. It was good to listen to a published writer telling us how he writes and what sort of research he has done. I had done my homework and figured this was a good talk for us to see. His books fell on our Kindles before we went so we knew who he was talking about when he mentioned names like Sigurd, Svein and Osric. They are good books and I will post a review up on Jo's Books. Of course with events like this one thing leads on to another and Giles was telling us about researching Viking longships by rowing on board a replica that has been made in Norway. Our ears pricked up when he said it was in Liverpool!! As soon as it is open to the public I.am.off. It looks fabulous!
The best thing to do when the weather gets too hot
The family ticket to the event cost us £100 for the two days. At first I was not impressed with the cost, but having been to the event and seen the organisation it was worth it for us. It was a full two days of entertainment that we all (ages 12 to nearly 50) enjoyed and that is a rare event. And £50 for a day out is a common price nowadays. The downside was that we still had three days of school to go through and the weekend put us in full holiday mode. Not good. It's Wednesday evening now, the kids are off at last and I have one inset day to do tomorrow. *sigh* It will be good to relax at last.

Giles Kristian's books are;
Blood Eye (book 1 in the Raven Trilogy)
Sons of Thunder (book 2)
Odin's Wolves (book 3)
God Of Vengeance
The Bleeding Heart, set in the English Civil War and
Brother's Fury, the second part.


  1. I think my reaction would have been the same to the cost but a tenner a day each sounds like it was well worth it if everyone enjoyed it and it was a good old family day out.
    Happy holidays to you all.
    Lisa x

    1. It was a really good day out! Everybody found something they enjoyed and it really seems to have given the Princess an interest in some parts of history, which is a miracle. I'd definitely go again someday!

  2. It sounds like a great event. Bringing history to life like this gets children to engage with the subject and want to know more. I do think it's a shame that admission prices are so high though, there'll be many children who miss out of these experiences purely because of the cost.

    1. Even the cost of getting the reenactors into schools is prohibitively expensive, so the chances of a school like I work at (very much lower socio-economic class) ever firing up interest in History with a gang of Vikings or Normans rampaging through the Hall is limited. Which is a massive pity, because they are just the children who could do with knowing the stories of the past and engaging with the future with greater understanding of why things are like they were!


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