Another spectacular event at Herstmonceux Castle medieval weekend were the falcons. Not only are they beautiful in flight and endearingly cuddly-looking when sitting quietly on the falconer’s (strong leather) gauntlet they make real the medieval search for food. And these aerial killers are the goods. An eagle hawk can bring down a small deer, enough to feed quite a few hungry knights in a feast or two. We didn’t see that but we did see an unfortunate mouse fulfilling its destiny. Two gulps, a sad, last look at a disappearing tail resulted in one very satisfied peregrine. Vegetarian they are not. Despite that, I decided I’d really like one but when I found out how much they cost I reluctantly changed my mind.
Hildegard herself was quite shocked when the falconer in The Parliament of Spies sobbed at the death of his newest falcon brought over from Norway. It had cost his abbot today’s equivalent of an extremely smart Italian sports car.
A day out with the falconer learning how to fly them is definitely on the books.
This is the sort of research I love. Just as much as sitting in the mead tent…
Somebody asked how I write (nothing to do with mead tents) so tomorrow I’ll let you into the way I go about it.
If you’ve never seen a real live joust make sure you catch up with Destrier at the next medieval festival. More exciting than you can imagine. Great horsemanship. Shiny armour. Handsome as you could wish – the knights, that is. And when they make a hit it’s spectacular. It should be our national sport and dare I say it, a million times more exciting than f***b***
Go and see for yourselves.
Pix to follow once I’ve sussed out how to get them on here. Any advice?
Hours later with much help from Phil, done it!…so what do you think?
See Destrier’s website for information about future events.
Two days of sunshine and a typical Bank Holiday deluge didn’t spoil a great weekend for all medievalists. If you missed it this year make a date in your diary to come along next August to the spectacular Herstmonceux Castle. It’s near Pevensey, Lewes, Brighton and only an hour or so from London, deep in the East Sussex countryside. Terrific location, terrific people, great atmosphere. See you there?
Just to remind anybody who doesn’t know, this weekend over the Bank Holiday Herstmonceux is hosting a fantastic, fabulous funfilled medieval festival. Jousting, falconry, archery, minstrels, armoured knights and all the glorious rabble of medieval entertainment will be here on offer. As well as that some of us will be reading from our books too so come and meet us in the big marquee. Ge be!
They say patience is a virtue but if so it’s one, among many others, I happen to lack. The last few weeks when my domain name has been bandied around in attempts to restore it have led to much exploration of the alleged language of the Anglo-Saxons.
In the meantime I went back up to have another look at Handale Priory. This time it was with the admirable charity Sustrans. We walked the 6 km from the cliff top village of Loftus, scrambling our way uphill alongside the beck that flows out of the dale. We were privileged to be guided by Marshal along the ancient monks’ trod that links one side of the North Yorkshire moors to the other. You might know similar ancient paved pathways as pannnier ways. Said to be pre-Roman they are so skilfully made that they have lasted until today and criss-cross all counties in England. Their presence brings a strong sense of the people who used them through the centuries when they would lead up to sixty or so pack horses in single file across immense distances in order to fetch provisions from one place to another. We were told that because there is only room for single file when a leader reached the top of a steep incline he’d have to give a piercing call down the path to warn anyone below that he was bringing his horses down. I imagine the route we walked on that good day was the path Hildegard would have walked in the story The Dragon of Handale when she has to smuggle the abducted girl, Alys, from the priory where she was imprisoned to a place of safety at Ulf’s Langbarugh manor on the coast road.
Again, sad to say, there was no sighting of the dragon.