Death and disease - medieval-style at Beeston Castle
Saturday 18 & Sunday 19 August 2012
Axes and scalpels are being sharpened ahead of a weekend of medieval medicine and punishment at Beeston Castle and Woodland Park on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 August, when renowned executioner, Gilbert Savage, and the barber surgeon return to Cheshire for two days of terrible tales of torture and treatment!
Beeston Castle will once again be home to a set of gallows, along with a host of other tools of the trade of a medieval executioner, from thumb screws to the axe used to chop off heads! Throughout the weekend, Gilbert will regale visitors with stories of the crimes – brutal and sometimes relatively minor – that would have led citizens to face execution in the name of the king!
“In medieval England, there was no such thing as a caution – even the smallest crimes warranted a severe punishment,” explains English Heritage’s events manager, Charlie Evans. “For example, for theft of something valued less than a shilling (approximately a week’s wages for a farm labourer), punishment for the first offence would be a period on the pillory or stocks, after which your ear would be nailed to the wooden frame and you’d have to tear yourself loose – that’s the origin of the phrase ‘ear-marked’.”
Meanwhile, the treatment for those guilty of no crime other than falling ill will be examined by the barber surgeon – a gentleman whose medieval medical expertise requires the use of leeches and other blood-letting devices, and whose medicine box might include live toads, snails or even dried dog excrement, which was sometimes used as a (not very effective) treatment for eye infections!
The gruesome event is not for the faint-hearted, and runs each day from 11.00am to 5.00pm, with Beeston Castle itself open from 10.00am to 6.00pm. Admission prices are £6.00 for adults, £5.50 for concessions and £3.50 for children. English Heritage members get in free. Please note that there is a parking charge at Beeston Castle (independently operated car park).
For more information, please call 01829 260464 or visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/beestoncastle
For further media information, please contact:
Jay Commins – PRO English Heritage (Yorkshire)
Tel: 0113 251 5698
Mob: 07810 546567