Show report: Newport Ship Open Day – August 2016

We were delighted to return to the Newport Ship this month for their open day. Now in their new warehouse, this medieval ship is being painstakingly preserved and studied. Five hundred timbers had returned from freeze-drying at the York Archaeological Trust only two days before, so it was great to have a look at the progressing work.

A model of the 15th century ship
A model of the 15th century ship

We set up a range of displays for the public to help interpret medieval life including archery, weapons, armour, crafts and music. It is always great to make links between our displays and the archaeology at hand. For example, in showing medieval spinning and wool processing we could relate this to the sheep wool (potentially of Merino type [Mulville and Hunter Zooarch JISCMail 2003]) and other animal products that were found in the ship’s caulking and luting material; these included raw fibres, dyed fibres and woven material which were used in sealing the timbers and plugging leaks (Jones 2013, 4 & 10). The ship also had a silver coin inserted into a cut out in the stempost/keel join, potentially placed as a token of good fortune at the start of the ship’s construction. A largely 15th century (and thus contemporary) token or badge consists of a coin sealed inside a pewter purse (Spencer 1998; Spencer 1990, 116-117, 134-135, Figures 311-314c). One interpretation of these finds is that a belief existed that carrying a token of wealth increased your chances of attracting wealth to you.

We look forward to seeing the ship’s continued conservation and reassembly!

Showing the bows, bolts and arrows.
Crafts and crossbows being shown to visitors (and to Friends of the Newport Ship!).
A box of spindles and wool.
Displays of crafts and weapons, including the referenced purse-shaped pewter token.
Crafts and musical instruments.

Jones, T. 2013. S.O.S. News from the Friends of the Newport Ship, 21.

Spencer, B. 1998. Museum of London Medieval Finds from Excavations in London 7: Pilgrim Souvenirs and Secular Badges. London: The Stationery Office.

Spencer, B. 1990. Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum Medieval Catalogue Part 2: Pilgrim Souvenirs & Secular Badges. Wiltshire: Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum.

Show report: Grand Medieval Melee at Cardiff Castle – 13th & 14th August

Another old favourite this weekend at Cardiff Castle’s Grand Medieval Melee: a show Garrison have been attending for many years. As usual, we had a wonderful time demonstrating crafts, clothing, arms and armour, and even had authentic music provided by one of our members. Have-A-Go archery was also a great hit with the public. Thanks so much to everyone who came along and made it such a special show for us.

NB: Garrison are going to be super-busy over the next couple of weeks. Please drop in and see us at the Newport Ship Open Day on 20th August, or at Caerphilly Castle on 28th and 29th August. See our event page for more detail.

Show report: Big Cheese at Caerphilly Castle – 30th & 31st July

It was another amazing year greeting the thousands of visitors who came to Caerphilly’s Big Cheese at the end of July.

The event is a long-running cultural celebration set in and around Caerphilly Castle, and featuring large numbers of traders, street entertainers, falconry and a traditional fun fair.

We provided have-a-go archery for members of the public, and craft, arms and armour and cooking displays.

See our pictures below:


Show report: Beaumaris Medieval Festival – 29th-31st August 2015

Cardiff Castle Garrison were thrilled to be invited up to Anglesey this August Bank Holiday to be part of Beaumaris Castle’s Medieval Festival. We showcased a full living history camp, with weapons and armour, cooking and crafts, along with providing have-a-go archery for the public. We had an amazing time, and it was wonderful being able to meet so many other medieval re-enactment groups who were part of this event.


Show Report: Chepstow Castle – 4th and 5th October

Garrison members at Chepstow Castle
Garrison members at Chepstow Castle

Cardiff Castle Garrison enjoyed a lovely show at Chepstow Castle. We had a great turnout of newer members who we introduced to how to take part in a re-enactment show, and many of our older members also joined us for a wonderful weekend.

Garrison set up a living history camp in the grounds of Chepstow Castle and gave fourteenth-century cooking, crafting, and weapons and armour displays, along with a more interactive archery display and a talk on medieval clothing.

We all had a wonderful time, and thanks so much to all members of the group who took part, as well as the public who came to see us.

Guide: What to expect at shows

A Cardiff Castle Garrison living history encampment
A Cardiff Castle Garrison living history encampment

Everyone is welcome at shows, as long as they are a paid-up member of the Garrison (necessary for insurance purposes), and have the minimum 14th Century kit (clothes) required. If you don’t have this yet, don’t worry. You can contact our Secretary to arrange membership, which can even be done just before or at the show if necessary. You can also contact our Living History Officer to find if it will be possible to borrow kit. To message either, please email

Show Features and Facilities
Show features and facilities vary from show to show, from small tabletop displays in modern locations to full living history encampments in historic locations with authentic tents, cookery, textile craft, arms and armour displays, and archery and combat ranges. Please see the appropriate Garrison Facebook events page for details of what each show will contain.

Types of Show
Garrison shows fall into two categories: single-day shows and multiple-day shows.

Single-day shows take place over one day with no overnight camping. They are usually set up on the morning of the show before it starts and taken down that evening after it finishes.

Multiple-day shows take place over several days, usually weekends, with camping options for members overnight. Set up takes place the night before the show’s first day, and take down on the evening of the show’s last day.

Camping Options
Camping is usually either in authentic group tents or in members’ personal plastic (modern) tents. At most of our multiple-day shows we provide authentic group tents for members to sleep in. These are usually divided into girls’ and boys’ tents and members provide their own bedding. If you would like a place in one of these tents or would like to check if they will be at an event, click through to the event page on our Facebook group and comment, or email us at

Alternatively, if space is permitting, members are welcome to pitch their own tents at shows. However, please note that unless the venue has a separate ‘plastic’ camping area, all modern tents must be completely packed away while shows are open to the public, usually from around 9a.m. til 5p.m. Members are then welcome to re-pitch their plastic tent each evening.

Garrison authentic group tents where members often camp during shows

The Garrison owns many large pieces of kit necessary for shows including tents, fireboxes, tables, benches, etc. which must be transported from our storage facility to the show location and then be set up there prior to the show’s opening. At many shows, we rely on members to volunteer to transport this kit and at all shows we rely on members to set up the camp. Therefore, we ask all members attending an event to help with set-up arrangements (typically on the evening before the first day of a multiple-day event) if this is possible.

Members pitching an authentic group tent
Members pitching an authentic group tent

Set-up logistics vary from show to show. Instructions will be included on the event page for the specific show on the Garrison’s Facebook group closer to the event date, so check on Facebook for this information.

Generally, some volunteer members pick up kit from storage with their vehicles and take it to the show’s location the night before a multiple-day show or on the morning of a single-day show, and other members meet them there to help set everything up.

Volunteers at set-up help to pitch our authentic tents, set out our fire and cooking equipment and set out our furniture including benches and tables. Additionally, on the morning of each event members set up our living history displays. Experienced member(s) will be on-site every day and can will instruct any new members on how to help. There will also be committee members on-hand to help you out as well.

Show Activities
The Garrison generally provide a living history camp which contains several authentic tents and several living history displays such as textile crafts, weapons and armour or archery. Our members run these displays throughout the day, showcasing reproduction items and authentic skills to the public and answering their questions.

Please don’t worry if you don’t yet know enough to give a display as we’ll teach you everything you need to know during shows. New members are welcome to assist with any displays that interest them or, for their first show, just sit and listen to the experienced members and pick up information.


At almost all multiple-day events, the Garrison provide an authentic hot meal each day for participating members, which is cooked as part of our cooking display. Vegetarian and other special dietary options can be catered for if given sufficient notice – please email and the committee will pass your requirements on to the cook(s).

At multiple-day events, we also provide authentic snacks during the day including bread, cheese and various fruits.

Food 2

Plenty of water is always available during our shows.

Members are also welcome to bring their own food and/or drink during shows. However, if your food is inauthentic then please eat it out of sight, for example in one of the tents! Note also that alcohol may not be drunk whilst the show is open to the public or in the morning before the public arrive.

A few of our shows include re-enactment battles and/or fighting displays given to members of the public. Details of these may be found on the Facebook event page for the specific show.

Garrison members taking part in a full-scale battle at a show
Garrison members taking part in a skirmish at a show

To take part in combat or battles, Garrison members need to have passed the basic combat test given by the Training & Displays Officer and have the minimum amount of kit required to take part. For more information, please see our Introduction to Combat and Basic Combat Test posts.

Some of the Garrison’s events will have the option to do archery displays, have-a-go archery with the public or shooting in battles.

An archery display
An archery display

To be able to do this you must have passed your basic archery test and for archery displays and battles have your own archery equipment which has been passed by the Training & Displays Officer. Some shows will have the opportunity to do archery training after hours, which will be put on at the discretion of the Training & Displays Officer.

At the end of a show, all Garrison camp equipment needs to be taken down and transported back into storage. As with set-up, there are only volunteer Garrison members available to do this, so we ask all members who attended the show to help with this after shows if it is possible.

Professional Attitude
The Garrison is hired by event organisers to run a 14th Century re-enactment display at public shows. Members therefore need to act in a professional manner at all times, abide by Garrison rules and not commit any actions during these events which may bring the group into disrepute. Please have a quick read though the Garrison Code of Conduct before you attend your first event. It is available in the members-only section of this website or by emailing


Shows can seem daunting at first; but please don’t worry, our committee members will be on hand to help you as much as we can. If you have any problems, experienced members will be available and you can speak to them, or any committee members, about any issues you may have. Garrison loves new members and we’d be really happy to see you at shows!

Upcoming show: Chepstow Castle – 4th & 5th October


Members of the Garrison in camp.
Members of the Garrison in camp.

Cardiff Castle Garrison are pleased to be doing an introduction to re-enactment show at Chepstow Castle next weekend (3rd and 4th October). We will be showcasing a living history camp with crafts, blacksmith, weaponry, armour, archery and clothing displays. This show is designed for some of our newer members to get acquainted with re-enactment and learn how our equipment and displays are run and members of the public will see more detailed medieval talks and displays, including how to put up a medieval tent. If you’re free next weekend head along to Chepstow Castle between 10.00 a.m. and 4.00 p.m; we’d love to see you!

Show report: Grand Medieval Melee at Cardiff Castle – 16th & 17th August

Cooking display by the Garrison
Cooking display by the Garrison

We have had a very enjoyable weekend at Cardiff Castle taking part in the Grand Medieval Melee; it’s one of the biggest shows of the year for us and we had a great turn out. We were lucky that the Welsh weather, which had been pretty miserable all week, smiled on us and we had lots of sunshine.

Garrison gave several public demonstrations, including cookery, arms and armour, fourteenth-century crafts and clothing, and archery open to the public.

We all had a really great time, and thank you to all of the public who came and had a chat with us and to our lovely members who put on a brilliant encampment and manned the have-a-go archery.

Upcoming show: Melee at Cardiff Castle: 16th and 17th August

A Cardiff Castle Garrison living history encampment
A Cardiff Castle Garrison living history encampment

Cardiff Castle Garrison are exited to be involved in Cardiff Castle’s Grand Medieval Melee event this weekend (16th and 17th August). We will be showcasing a large living history camp with craft, blacksmith, weaponry, armour and clothing displays as well as have-a-go archery for members of the public to test their archery skills. We will also be providing a number of talks over the weekend on various aspects of medieval life.

There will also be various other displays taking place, from period combat for children to take part in, falconry, and  thrilling story telling as well. If you’re free this weekend head along to Cardiff Castle between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m; we’d love to see you!

Garrison on BBC Radio Ulster!

Garrison Archery Range
Garrison Archery Range

Really excited to say that the Garrison currently feature on the BBC website! The video is from an event we did in April where some of our members taught three comedians archery in Cardiff Castle as part of The Big Celtic Comedy Tour.

You can view a video featuring some of the teaching by clicking on the link below and the Garrison can be seen from about 03:20 onwards.

Cardiff Castle Garrison on The Big Celtic Comedy Tour



The radio show has been aired and is now on iPlayer. Click this link
 to listen in, we’re from approximately 12 minutes in. The programme will be up until Monday 2nd June.