10th July 2014
With less than a month until the region’s rich medieval history comes under the spotlight for the third annual Yorkshire Medieval Festival, organisers have turned to York’s modern day heroes to ensure that the medieval warriors are in peak fitness condition!
Players from the York City Knights rugby team joined the Festival knights for a training exercise in York’s Rowntree Park, in preparation for the Medieval Merriment event which will launch the Festival on Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 August. Using a combination of modern fitness training with the added weight of medieval armour, the knights were put through their paces to ensure that they are able to give their very best effort during the hand-to-hand combat and skirmishes that will take place during the opening weekend.
“Our Medieval Merriment weekend is going to be the biggest event we’ve ever staged as part of the Yorkshire Medieval Festival, and we’re determined to make sure that the knights in combat are better than ever before, so we called on our friends from the York City Knights to put them through their paces,” comments festival director, Danielle Daglan. “We often talk about sportsmen being ‘fighting fit’ but this gave us an opportunity to make sure that was really the case!”
Indeed, to help the players understand some of the challenges faced by the chivalrous knights of old, they were encouraged to don heavy mail vests and armour, which not only adds several kilos to the player’s bodyweight, but also restricts movement.
“Our players are used to working with weights during training, but wearing the mail vests distributes an extra stone in weight across the player’s body – and that significantly affects performance,” comments Jack Stearman, community development officer for York City Knights. “When you see just how much kit these knights had to wear during battle, it gives you a completely new perspective on the levels of fitness they would have had to be able to walk, run and fight for prolonged periods.”
The combat is just one part of a packed programme of medieval themed fun at the event, which will see Rowntree Park filled with historic entertainment and activities for the whole family. Medieval minstrels and ‘mummers’ will join archers and archaeologists, fools and falconers, alongside crafts people, a bouncy castle and lots of have-a-go activities to transform children into knights and princesses! Entry to Medieval Merriment is free, including the combat displays, with some hands-on activities costing between one and five medieval coin tokens, available for purchase on site. The event runs in Rowntree Park each day from 10.00am to 4.00pm.
Medieval Merriment is the first event in a series taking place at historic venues around Yorkshire. Other highlights of the Yorkshire Medieval Festival include:
- Swords & Sieges at Knaresborough Castle on Saturday 9 August – family fun including medieval sword fighting workshops, tours of the castle, crafts and activities from 11.00am to 4.00pm
- Medieval Combat Class at York Guildhall from Monday 18 – Friday 22 August– led by the Hotspur School of Defence, these 90 minute sessions feature fight demonstrations and the chance to try out some medieval weaponry with expert tuition. The workshops are suitable for both children and adults.
- Hollywood & The Sword: Dispelling Popular Myths about Medieval Combat, Friday 22 August at York Mansion House. Movie fight scenes may be spectacular, but often the dramatic licence can mean that the fight can lead to misconceptions about combat. This session looks at how Tinseltown has done well – and not so well – at portraying combat on screen.
- Church Explorers – taking place at some of Yorkshire’s most beautiful medieval churches across the region throughout August, these tours offer a unique insight into churches large and small, with specially organised walks and tours.
The Yorkshire Medieval Festival also includes a host of events and exhibitions throughout the region. For more details, or to prebook tickets to some of the key events, please visit www.yorkshire-medieval-festival.com
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