It’s always a pleasure to work with English Heritage. They look after a wealth of castles throughout our land and this summer they were embarking on a social media campaign #LoveCastles to stretch across the country and engage with children and families about the wonderful heritage we are lucky to have in this country.
To kick off the project we created a 30 tonne supercastle in Dover. The next stage was to run pop up sand sculpture workshops across the country at 8 different locations on the same weekend. To organise a large event like this took a lot of planning! Luckily for us Jamie and Rich thrive on the detail so they got to work. We developed the idea of creating a workshop that runs through the history of castle building and why they changed and developed over different historic periods. Beginning in 1066. We called out to our current and past team members to join us on this large scale project and also found some great new talent to join the team too. With some training days done with everyone we were all set to go.
With 8 vans loaded we all set off to our various locations some near, some far and kept in contact with our Whats App group which did get rather competitive and silly at times! Now, castle builders back then didn’t tend to think about getting large vans inside when they planned their forts, so we all have various complicated logistics to get the sand and tables set up, but that’s all part of the fun!
It was the first weekend of the kids summer holidays, so at each of the eight locations we had a mix of locals and holiday makers join in. The session began in 1066 and the Norman Invasion. The first motte and bailey structures began to emerge, so with the participants, we built them on our large sand tables. The buildings and walls tended to be made from wood, so we vulnerable to attack and fire, so we then changed them to stone and made higher walls to keep the bad guys out! The families then added extra details such as square bastions, crenulations, moat, drawbridge, loop holes, villages with out walls (concentric castles built after 1272) It was all looking good for the people who lived in the castle and the villagers who lived inside the castle walls until 1216.
The trebuchet was introduced, disaster for our square castles. We thought again and sculptured the towers and building to round structures. We were once again feeling pretty smug and safe in our fort until 1400’s where pesky canons were developed and castles became an ineffective means of protection. Castle building for protection ceased in the 1500’s yet many folly castles were still constructed as a sign of wealth and status.
We then brought the workshop session to a close with the English Civil War. Castles were occupied by Royalists supporting King Charles I to defend themselves against the Roundheads. Once the castles were captured by the roundheads they slightly destroyed some castles (known as slighting) so they could not be used by the Royalists again. An example of a slighted Castle is Scarborough Castle in Yorkshire. Wow so by the end of this 1 hr workshops families had been on the historical journey of the English castle.
We find this type of workshop a really fun and effective way to visually teach something that is quite complicated for people to remember. Our team member Claire, who knew nothing about castles is now an expert.
Once the two days of workshops were over, each team packed the sand, tables and equipment back in the vans and set off back to West Yorkshire. Not before a well deserved meal. Each team bonded and have fond memories of their road trips to English Heritage Castles.
We would like to say a huge thank you to English Heritage and all the staff and volunteers who helped out too and of course all of the team members who represented Sand In Your Eye, our family has now extended even further.