In February, the History department took 60 Year 7 students to Norwich castle for the day to partake in a series of workshops centred on evaluating if William I was a hero or a villain. This was building off unit 4 of the history curriculum: Did the Normans change what it meant to be English? Which the students had just finished in class.

For the day students were led through different workshops by Anglo-Saxon and Norman characters. In the morning they examined different weapons with the Norman mistress of arms and re-enacted the Battle of Hastings – fortunately, there were no casualties this time. Afterwards they sat down with Sister Anne, a Norman Nunn, and looked at the doomsday book before having a go at writing with quills. During lunch, the students got to look around the other exhibitions at the castle, with the natural world exhibition being a fan favourite.

After lunch, it was the turn of the Anglo-Saxons. Ælflæd, a Saxon woman, told the students of her harsh treatment under the Normans. The students first discovered how Anglo-Saxon society worked and how people had greater freedoms before they were cruelly placed under the Norman Feudal system. In this workshop some students were fortunate enough to be the King or Barons, however, the majority had the restrictive role of being a medieval peasant. The final workshop of the day was a virtual tour of Norwich keep, which demonstrated how it was really built to intimidate and control the local Anglo-Saxon people.

The day ended with the Anglo-Saxon and Norman characters bickering on the stage and the students deciding if William I was a hero or villain. After lots of booing and cheering the result was heavily disputed and a consensus could not be reached.

Christina went on the trip and said, ‘The history trip was my first trip in Northgate. It was super fun and I learned so many new things like the different weapons and armours or how difficult it was to write with a calligraphy pen (which was one of my favourite parts). I loved the trip and would definitely go again next time. My friend Layla also thought the trip was really educational but fun at the same time.’

Colette commented, ‘The history trip to Norwich castle was amazing. It was super educational and taught us about the castle structure, Anglo Saxon society and much more. My favourite part was looking at the weapons and recreating the Battle of Hastings. The hardest part was writing with a calligraphy pen as it was hard to get it at the right angle. This was a great first trip of Year 7 and I would definitely go again.’

Thank you to Mr Lennard for organising the trip and giving the students such a unique opportunity to develop their history knowledge and understanding outside the classroom.