So, last weekend I have attended my first ever Major reenactment show- Kelmarsh History Live festival. It was an amazing event, there was so much to see and so much to do, it felt like the standard 24 hour day was much to little.
Not having a car, I have managed to catch a lift, with a few good friends from Y Ddraig- Thorstein, Thorkell and Yngvar ( I am using authentic names here). After a merry drive in Thorstein’s fab Ford KA, we have arrived at Kelmarsh on friday evening, just in time to pitch out tents and go for a quick visit to a local supermarket, for supplies.
In the meantime, I have managed to take a quick photo of the campsite, which was really huge and jam-packed full of reenactors (there were two camp sites actually – “plastic” and “authentic”, both huge and both lots of fun):
We have pitched our tents just before dark, and just in time to enjoy beer and snacks, before tomorrow. Also, just to make my point, my tent is not a “Hovel”, regardless of what Yngvar says. It may not be a “Love Palace”, as there are only two tents in Y Ddraig to have earned that name, but I will not have my tent insulted thus!
In the morning, after we woke up and recovered from last night’s merriment, it was time to kit up, and get ready for battle! This year, our group was to take part in two battles, one called the Battle of The Standards, fought between the Scots and the English Normans, and the second The Battle of Stoke Field, fought in 1487 during War of the Roses. No actual Viking Age battle for us, but it was no obstacle whatsoever. In the first battle we appeared as Scottish rabble, and in the second as Irish Kern and Gallowglass mercenaries (after appropriate kit modifications of course).
First came the Battle of the Standards, where we would fight against Normano-English scum, in a suitably undisciplined and mob-like fashion. Unfortunately, the Scots have lost the battle and so we were destined to die or rout off the field. We fought hard none the less, and being a rabble proved hugely entertaining! WE screamed, we taunted, we were shot at with arrows, we charged down hill and run back when met with stout resistance, than charged again, until defeated. The only downside was the lack of fighting spirit from the Normano-English side, who were reluctant to advance or turn on their savage side. If only the fight was competitive, we would own them… One can dream, right?
And, after a quick change of kit (only 30 minutes before the next battle!) we were ready to play the part of Irish mercenaries:
This time, unfortunately we were yet again on the loosing side, as the York followers were beaten by the Lancastrians. Regardless of that fact, we still had huge fun, me especially, as it was my first time fighting against Medieval reenactors, who use different weapons, different armour and different rules. The battle was immense fun, with tonnes of shouting, charging, retreating, and facing off against men so heavily armoured, they seemed like actual tanks. Plus, we were peppered with arrows, shot at with cannons and hand guns, and even charged by cavalry! And, in the midst of it all, young members of Y Ddraig shouted defiantly their mysterious warcries (Euthanize!!! Forth Eorlingas!!! For money, money, more money and grapefruit!!!), while fighting savagely until their eventual deaths.
And, once the battles were done, and we have had our rest, it was time to explore the event. There was so much to see, so much to do! Trading stalls, lecture tent, beer tent, every possible kind of reeactment, from Romans and World War II to Victorian prisoners and the Suffragette movement. As soon as we were able, me, Yngvar, Thorstein and Thorkell went on a shopping/tourist spree amongst all the chaos:
What have we seen, what have we heard, what delicacies have we tried? I could talk for days and days, and still not finish. Let us just say, we have seen it all, and still wanted more. Two days of glorious battles and incredible shows, visiting stalls and enjoying the amazing event that is Kelmarsh History Live.
And then, there was of course, the Saturday Beer Tent party, with live band, endless beer and cider, fancy dress and several hundred (or did we reach over a thousand?) reenactors having jolly good time. Cue Star Wars cosplay, 80’s dress up, mandatory man in a mankini, mosh-pit full of mead-crazed Vikings and all sorts of party craziness, carrying well into the night. Only one word describes it- epic.
I can only look forward to the rest of the season, and hope I can have at least half as fun as I had at Kelmarsh. Huge thank you to all involved, high-five to Thorstein for giving me and the rest of our gang a lift, and massive thanks to Baggsy for taking all the great photos of our group when I was too busy swinging an axe. Hail!!