Will fight for groats

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I can’t deny it; this summer season has been a lot of fun and really hasn’t felt like work.

Our Big Event season at the National War Museum finished with a bang courtesy of our Medieval Mercenaries and their matchlock muskets. The Big Events were created to attract visitors to the museum and offer a different style of interpretation for our diverse collection. They are always a lot of fun for our visitors and staff alike, although there is a fair bit of organisation involved and each event brings with it new challenges.

Scott Neil at Medieval Mercenaries
Scott Neil preparing objects for Medieval Mercenaries at National War Museum August 2010

Our skilled Scottish soldiers are hardy fellows, but I still need to provide them with protection from the elements. If you have ever visited Edinburgh Castle you will know how wild the weather can be. On Friday night a marquee was delivered with enough ballast to cope with the most severe wind. Early on Saturday morning I set up the tables for the handling collection and laying out barriers to create an area for the demonstrations, after all I don’t want anyone to get hurt during the fighting…. Luckily I was joined by our new Events Officer Bryony Hope and she was soon decorating our modern marquee with some authentic looking pennants and flags.

Medieval Mercenary
Dressing up in costume at Medieval Mercenaries weekend at National War Museum August 2010

What followed was a weekend filled with fighting demonstrations, our visitors getting to dress up in armour or choose their weapon of choice for the obligatory photo opportunity. The highlight for me is always the musket firing as it’s a great way to draw a crowd and it fills the air with noise and smoke.

Medieval Mercenaries fighting
Scott Neil in attack mode at Medieval Mercenaries weekend at National War Museum August 2010

Hopefully our visitors have been left with a greater understanding of the weapons, tactics and battlefield conditions that would have been familiar to a medieval mercenary and they have been inspired to visit the National War Museum and see the real objects on which these living history performances are based.

Medieval Mercenaries at National War Museum
Crowd watching the action at Medieval Mercenaries weekend at National War Museum August 2010

For more information on Big Events at National Museums Scotland, check the What’s On section on our website.

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