Last week, 128 Year 7 pupils visited Warwick Castle in order to help support their learning in History. Pupils learnt how the castle has changed over time, and found out more about the weaponry and armour that was used throughout the Middle Ages. In particular, pupils were looking at the Norman Conquest and what better place to visit than Warwick Castle, which was one of just 30 personally commissioned castles by William the Conqueror!
Upon arrival, pupils attended an informative talk from one of the Castle’s trebuchet operators. In the Middle Ages, trebuchets were used extensively during the Medieval period, particularly in siege warfare, as they could hurl projectiles of over 15 kg in weight at up 150 mph. The trebuchet at Warwick castle is currently the largest working medieval weapon of its type and it stands at an impressive 18 metres high and weighs over 22 tonnes!
The guide explained how it was used to fire anything from flaming boulders to break castle walls, to beehives or even dead plague victims to try and target the people living inside a castle. Although, we couldn’t see the trebuchet in action, we still enjoyed finding out about how feared it was as a weapon in the Middle Ages.
Pupils were then left to explore the castle in groups. They were particular focused on the Norman invasion and how this impacted the castle landscape we see today. This was further supported by an excellent tour of the castle led by the Warwick Castle educational team, which took them through 1066 and the Battle of Hastings before moving into the impact of Norman rule.
Next, they went to explore the castle interior and its grounds. Firstly, they climbed the castle walls, scaling the arduous, twisting spiral staircases – finally reaching the top. The views from the walls made the effort of climbing very worthwhile. The highest tower in the castle was over 36 metres high and the pupils saw many arrow slits for both crossbows and longbows. Once they had climbed down, they made their way to the King’s Hall where there was a display of weaponry, including swords, guns and even full sets of armour.
Pupils were able to explore all aspects of the castle (including the Horrible Histories maze which many students enjoyed!). At lunch, they were treated to a birds of prey display and many pupils were left clutching their sandwiches as falcons and swooped in amongst the group!
Our guide explained how useful birds of prey were for hunting in the Medieval times, especially if there was a poor harvest, as people would depend on what the birds could hunt. Some birds were incredibly large and one of them, the Andean Condor, had a wingspan of over 3 metres. There were many highlights during the day as the students visited the state rooms, gaol and climbed the hundreds of steps around the castle’s fortifications.