Traditions and Time Travel

As you are aware we have a vested interested in history and feel that it’s important to keep traditions alive -we do enjoy the odd falconry session in our courtyard, therefore we have a few fascinating facts about Northumberland which we want to share with you.

You may even learn something new to amaze your friends.

Kern Baby

The phrase ‘kern baby’ derives from the meaning, the corruption of corn. In the past a good harvest was essential, therefore a ‘Harvest Queen’ or’ Kern Baby’ was dressed in flowers with corn under her arms and carried through the village on the morning of the reaping before being placed on a pike. She was then removed and returned home after the harvest.

Kern Baby from 1905

Kern Baby from 1905

Blackmail

The word blackmail originates from the borders. It comes from the tradition of the local villagers paying a fee for protection from pillaging.

Tartan

Northumberland tartan is black and white as the hill shepherds only had access to black and white wool. It is now used as the basis of Scottish tartan.

Northumberland Flag

Northumberland has its own flag which is designed from the regal banner of red and gold which was draped over the tomb of St Oswald, the 7th Century king of Northumbria.

Flag of Northumberland

Flag of Northumberland

All Saints Eve

Young men from the surrounding villages stole cabbages on October 31st and according to an old Gothic custom, threw them down people’s chimneys with dangerous consequences…

We hope you enjoyed your trip through time and traditions, please return again for more fascinating facts.

 

Flodden 500

500 years ago today, King James IV of Scotland was killed on the battlefield of Flodden Hill in 1513.

Amazingly when you visit Ford Castle you can see this fateful field from our King James Tower.

Why was the Battle of Flodden so important?

  • King James IV was the last King to die on British soil.
  • Clive Hallam-Baker of Remembering Flodden Project explains about the vast loss of life; “Around 15,000 men died in the space on two and a half hours. A death toll like that wasn’t seen again until the battles of World War One.”

What would it have been like during the battle?

  • The Scots were under fire from English canons and billhooks
  • They retreated downhill into slippery, boggy ground
  • James’ army had to rely on pikes as their defence

How many men were in battle?

  • English – 26,000
  • Scottish – 30,000

How is Flodden remembered?

  • In the Scottish folk song: “Flooers o’ the Forest”  which details the grief of women and children who have lost their men in battle. It is played at remembrance services and funerals around the World.
  • There are various events to commemorate the battle happening September 9th and beyond including; an archaeological dig, private dinner and exhibition at Alnwick Castle. For details please visit: www.flodden1513.com

The back to school blues

You’ve returned to school and now can’t wait until the Autumn half term – Sound familiar?

Well on the plus side, back to school also means fabulous new school trips and where better to experience high adrenaline action and thrills then at Ford Castle?

Take a look at what you can get up to ( yes, teachers we mean you too).

Zip Wire

Could you tackle the 80ft wide zip wire?

A truly British past time

Try out a truly British past time in our Long Gallery

Initiative

Take on the volcanic lava in Initiative

Canoe

A leisurely canoe down the River Till

                             But perhaps best of all, you get the opportunity to sleep in an authentic English Castle and how often does that happen? – We bet you’re back to school blues have gone now and if not chin up!

IMG_8243

EFL 2013 Highlights

IMG_9274 Pete and our EFL students

IMG_8557  Falconry Fun

 SAM_0373  We love canoeing!

 Pikeman Elodie Flodden Discovery Weekend – Dress up time

For more pictures of our Summer Camp please visit our Facebook page (Ford Castle Adventure)

 

Five Fun Summer Ideas From Ford

It’s week two of the School holidays and in case you’re starting to run out of ideas to keep everyone excited, we’re here to help.

Take a look below at a few of our suggestions to keep everyone entertained:

1) Go butterfly spotting –  Can you tell the difference between Cabbage White, Red Admiral and Holy Blue? Get your peepers on the beautiful sunny skies in your local area and you’re sure to spot at least one of these elegant creatures.

2) Have a picnic – It may seem a simple idea but what’s better than lying on the grass, letting the children run around in the fresh air with snacks at your fingertips. There’s no need to break the bank either; we’re sure you’ll have some nibbles in the cupboard you can take along and just pop in a few sandwiches, as easy as that.

If you don’t fancy taking the car to find a perfect spot, how about the garden?

3) Visit a free Museum – There are hundreds of free museums and art galleries to satisfy even the fussiest of visitors around the UK and here are a few local favourites;

  • Arbeia Roman Fort and Museum, South Shields
  • The Baltic Contemporary Art Gallery, Gateshead
  • The National Glass Centre, Sunderland
  • Discovery Museum, Newcastle
  • Woodhorn Colliery and Museum, Northumberland

4) Remember Pooh Sticks? – Made famous by A.A.Milne’s  Winnie the Pooh. Choose your stick, throw it over the side of a bridge, and race to see whose is first to reach the other side. Be warned it’s addictive!

5) Try Geocaching – Treasure hunting for the 21st Century. Anyone with a GPS device or smartphone can give it a go. Visit geocaching.com to search for local hidden caches/messages and begin your hunt. You may find buttons, badges and all sorts of little treats along with a log book to see who else has found your treasure.

We hope these few ideas may help you through the rest of the Summer holidays. Add us on Facebook and tell us your own ideas!

EFL 2013 – Welcome to Ford!

We kicked off our first Ford EFL (English Foreign Language) Camp on July 5th and my word, have we done a lot so far!

Lessons

Three hours of English lessons may sound dull but not the Ford way! Our EFL students created their own Attenborough esque wildlife documentary for starters. This resulted in Meerkats, Lions and Monkey’s roaming around our Castle grounds, with a distinct French accent. Lions were being shaved to make socks, monkeys eaten by apes and eager Eagles  were ready to eat their prey.

We also had a rendition of ‘I’m a little tea pot’ sung to the tune of Queen’s ‘We will rock you.’ – I told you they weren’t  dull.

EFL

Canoeing

The glorious summer weather (which was a nice surprise) made canoeing on the River Till an even more enjoyable experience. Suited up in their life jackets and oars in hand it was time to take to the water and discover what canoeing was all about.

Giggling and rocking boats was of course going to be a feature in this activity but after a stern safety session, they were on there way up the river elegantly in a line, like ducks to water.

Shakespeare

Evening entertainment consisted of a picnic and a piece open air theatre in Lord Joicey’s garden – how typically British. The brilliant Handlebards delighted the students with their performance of Twelfth Night and  even managed to steal a few hearts in the process.

Alnwick

A visit to Alnwick Castle was another item to tick off on their list of adventures. Boys dressed as Princesses and girls dressed as Knights;  there were no gender issues here. Oh, and I nearly forgot, a flying lesson on broomsticks!?

DSCF2372

A trip to the Lost Cellars for the older students went down a treat, discovery the horrible history of the Castle, whilst the younger students raided the gift shop and took part in an authentic archery lesson.

If these are the first few days; who knows what’s in store for the rest of the camp…

For more information about The Handlebards tour visit; http://www.peculius.com/handlebards.html

 

Lets all be a ‘Safety Hero’

To celebrate Child Safety Week (June 24th – 30th) we wanted to share with you how you can have superbly safe trip to Ford Castle.

The theme of the week is to be a safety hero and to pledge three simple but effective safety actions to abide by. So, in the spirit of the week here are our pledges to you:

  • To always provide harnesses and helmets for our High Ropes Courses.
  • To always have qualified instructors operating our High Ropes Courses.
  • To always have GNAS (Grand National Archery Society) qualified archery instructors.
  • To provide plastron arm garments for fencing, to protect your’ weapon’ arm.
  • To have BFA (British Academy of fencing and British Fencing Association) qualified fencing instructors.
  • To provide fencing masks which fully protect the face, head and neck.
  • To provide a safety jackets for fencing.
  • To provide helmets and harnesses for our zip wire.

Let’s not forget, perhaps the most important of all; to provide a great adventure in a real Medieval Castle without any safety worries for you.

Remember we aren’t safety heroes, we’re just doing our duty.

Ford Fun Outdoors

The Benefits of outdoor study!

There is sometimes a misconception that school trips are far too much paperwork and not enough fun, but we want to prove these negative nellies wrong.

Now, here’s a few facts and figures, but  don’t worry, we won’t bore you; they’re here to prove that the grumblers are incorrect.

A survey by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) found that 87% of teachers said LOtC made lessons memorable and 77% agreed that it motivated and enthused young people towards learning.*

So, how does this link in with our fabulous Ford Castle? Well listen up. If you’re thinking of an exciting and memorable way of teaching Geography, History, Biology or Geology we have the solution for you.

On offer at Ford is a range of packages that bring these subjects to life. For instance; ever wondered how to make the miserable medieval period fun?If the answer is yes, then let us take weight off your shoulders and give your pupils the chance to make medieval crafts, eat historical food and visit medieval sites. However, if it’s the Romans, Vikings, Saxons, Tudors or 21st Century Conflicts that you’re studying, fear not. We have it covered with our Time Travellers and Historical Study packages.

Our YounExplorers package will take your Human Geography students to coastal sites Bamburgh, Lindisfarne and Heatherslaw Mill, Northumberland’s only working watermill.

River_Studies

It doesn’t stop there. Explore marine life in the name of Biology and become conservationists for the day at Ford Moss. Students can search for the Puffins, Red Squirrels and moles at the nature reserve.

We can even design a specific plan for your curriculum, incorporating fun outdoor activities and educational excursions.

Let’s all work together and show the 87% of teachers in the survey that they are correct: LOtC is a memorable experience. Here at Ford Castle we’re working towards 100%

*Facts and figures provided from http://www.teachsecondary.com/outdoor-learning/view/school-trips-effective-learning-outside-the-classroom

Greenhaugh – We hope you brought your walking boots!

The Greenhaugh Cluster arrived in convoy, chose their beds in the Castle dorms and set straight off to Ford Moss, the unique nature reserve a brisk walk from our grounds.

At various stops along the way the pupils  learn about the geological quirks in the area that let us trace the history of the ground, animals and plants. Exploring unearthed small pieces of pottery from an old village and a collapsed mine shaft. Before a tour of the woodland, a quick study of the soil showed that the students were standing on the site of an ancient ice-age river!

Back at the Castle, Greenhaugh worked up an appetite by crossing the ravine, taking a deep breath, and zooming across on the zip wire. Nervous laughter gave way to moral support as the group cheered each other on to take the leap, and everyone faced their fear.

Ford Moss Chimney

Ford Moss

Dinner, evening quizzes and a hot chocolate treat made sure the students were out for the count, ready to rise early for a day trip to Lindisfarne on Holy Island and to the Anglo-Saxon town of Berwick.

Heritage and history was all around as the sun shone; a walk across the Island revealed more about the Pilgrims and their castle, along with the fascinating geography of the area.

Later, the ramparts park in Berwick was the perfect destination for the students to rest their weary feet and ponder the day’s discoveries over a mix up from the old-fashion sweet shop. They deserved it after all that walking!

The following day was packed with adventure activities in the sprawling Castle grounds. The pupils took the opportunity to ride the zip wire again, and did Greenhaugh proud by working together as a team on the Initiative course.

Too soon, it was time to have one last delicious Castle meal and head home.

See the  pictures from Ford Moss and the zip wire on our Facebook page!

 

Did you see us on The One Show?

Did you see us on BBC’s The One Show last Thursday?

Historian Dan Snow visited Ford Castle to mark the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden. He toured the nearby Battlefield, talked about the weapons and tactics used by both armies, and visited the spot where King James IV was killed by the enemy.

 

Dan Snow tours the grounds at Ford

Dan Snow tours the grounds at Ford

Clive Hallam Baker explains how the infamous battle came to take place at Ford

Clive Hallam Baker explains how the infamous battle came to take place at Ford

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the show Dan also spoke to local historian Clive Hallam-Baker;  who has written a book about the Battle of Flodden and he even visited the grand bedroom used by James IV while he stayed in the Castle.
Dan seemed to find our castle and gardens fascinating, but he couldn’t leave without a quick zoom down the zip wire…

Don’t worry if you missed it – you can still watch Thursday’s episode online until the end of the week.