English Archers at Tintern Abbey

The Medieval Free Company is a group of families and individuals who all share a common interest in medieval history: and they pitched tents at Tintern Abbey for a weekend of medieval reenactment. The Medieval Free Company specialise in the recreation of the lifestyle of a group of mercenaries during the Wars of the Roses period. Everything within the camp is recreated, through research, with as much historical accuracy as possible using   materials and methods that would have been available at the time. Their focus is on authentic living history camps and archery with traditional English longbow.

IMG_0956 copyAiming for adventure is English mercenary archer Tony Faulkner – a retired Metropolitan police officer. Tony said: “I have been with this group for ten years and this is the first time for us to visit Tintern Abbey. It is a lovely location and we are very happy to be here: and to have returned to Wales.”

At the encampment visitors saw numerous medieval trades and crafts in progress demonstrated by the ten members of The Medieval Free Company who attended the event. They use authentic methods and tools suited to the period: and encourage the public to engage with the display as much as possible.

IMG_0865 copyMatthew Waring (dad), 17 month old Arthur Waring and Claire Waring (mum). Claire said: “We focus on demonstrating the skills and lifestyle of a 15th Century group of mervenaries from the War of the Roses period. We are so thankful to Tintern Abbey for being here at this beautiful spot.”

Tintern was the second Cistercian foundation in Britain and the first in Wales. The present-day remains are a mixture of building works covering a 400-year period between 1131 and 1536. Despite the shell of this grand structure being open to the skies, it remains the best-preserved medieval abbey in Wales. Although the abbey church was rebuilt under the patronage of Roger Bigod, lord of nearby Chepstow Castle, in the late 13th century, the monastery retains its original design.

IMG_0968 copyPhotographed is Jean Harcourt from Chipping Sodbury as the ‘wise medicine women’ who demonstrates the use of herbal medicine of the time. Jean said: “It is a beautiful location for our group to spend two days camping. The Abbey is a beautiful location for an event such as a reenactment.”

IMG_0949 copyHod the fletcher from Gloucestershire, photographed demonstrating a range of arrowheads. He is able to demonstrate the techniques of working the wood of the shafts through all the stages of production from tree to finished product. He will demonstrate all ancillary techniques, including; the preparation of feather fletchings, the use of linen thread for whippings, the placement of horn inserts to reinforce the nocks, and the selection and usage of a wide variety of hand forged medieval arrowheads.

IMG_0843 copy1471. A company of archers and their families rest at the abbey in order to pay their respects to William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke. They set up camp in the grounds and continue to practice their civilian skills – such as fletching, spinning, dyeing, cooking, leather working and rush weaving and, of course, recreation in the Tavern Tent. Amoung them are: photographed (L to R): Jen Hood, Peter Hood and Jan Faulkner preparing food under canvas.

The Wars of the Roses were a series of civil conflicts fought amongst the noble houses of Lancaster and York. They were fought in the latter half of the 15th century and are said to be the county’s last medieval conflict before England entered the modern era with the ascension of the Tudor dynasty to the throne. The Wars were characterised by their larger-than-life protagonists; by the frequent betrayals and sudden and dramatic shifts in the balance of power; and by the brutal and merciless battles fought by men on foot in plate armour, massacring each other with axe, sword, hammer and bow.

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