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: Joust! at Cardiff Castle – 17-19th June

We had a terrific time again at one of our favourites events – Joust! at Cardiff Castle.

The Garrison provided a full living history camp, with displays of fourteenth-century crafts, cookery and weapons and armour.

Check out our gallery for some lovely shots of our weekend (thanks so much Andrew Forster!).

Show report: Caerphilly Christmas Market 12th-13th December

Cardiff Castle Garrison had a terrific time at Caerphilly Christmas Market, despite some pretty intense weather conditions! Wales experienced gusts of up to 60mph on Saturday, and a good deal of the day was spent fighting to keep the tents up. Luckily there was plenty of space in Caerphilly Castle’s great hall, and everyone spent the day nice and snug inside, including two rather cute reindeer.

The market featured a wide variety of guests, including Father Christmas himself, some wonderful cake and baked goods sellers, a great selection of meads and wines, and various displays from fellow local re-enactment group, the Freemen of Gwent.  Our craft display was extremely popular and pretty busy throughout the day.

On Sunday, as the weather was much improved, we were able to run a have-a-go archery range, which also proved very successful with the public.

After a thoroughly wonderful time at Caerphilly, the Garrison would like to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and Happy New Year! See you all in 2016!




Show Report: Newport Ship Open Day – 26th April

The Newport Ship timbers during excavation
The Newport Ship timbers during excavation

The Newport Ship is the most complete archaeological example of a ship from the fifteenth century. Discovered in 2002 during development of the Riverfront Theatre in Newport, Wales, the ship’s timbers are currently undergoing conservation on the Maesglas Industrial Estate, Newport. After the conservation efforts are completed, it is hoped that the Newport Ship will be housed in its own purpose-built museum. The conservation work is not generally open to visitors, though several open days are held throughout the year to give the public a chance to view the fascinating work which is preserving this exciting find.

At this event, the Cardiff Castle Garrison displayed several crafts of the period, along with running a have-a-go archery for the public. Various members of our group at this event are pictured below, along with other images from previous Newport Ship open day events. We really enjoyed ourselves at this event, and will be back at the Newport Ship on Saturday 24th May 2014.

For more information about the Newport Ship, please see

Images of the Newport Ship during excavation and its artists’ impression are used with the permission of the Newport Museums and Heritage Service.