New Series on Our YouTube Channel!

As we all continue to be in some phase of lock-down, we’re working harder than ever to bring you digital content. We have continued our #MedievalMonday series, which is now coming out on a fortnightly basis, and on the off weeks we’ve started bringing out a series of Spooky Tours, which cover the paranormal happenings and experiences that we know of in the castle!

In addition to this, we are now halfway through our history series, covering all incarnations of the castle, and all of the important events of Scottish history! We’ve also released a piece on costumes, we’re working on a piece of Queen Euphemia, and once we’re back on site we’ll be doing walk-throughs and ‘Meet the Team’.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBoPBB6r2EiMtswf9q-NiaA?view_as=subscriber

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel to keep up with all of our new content, and consider making a small donation – just the price of a cup of coffee, £3.50, to our education fund so that we can continue to bring this content to you while our site is closed!

We’re also continuing to host FREE events via Zoom every Friday at 2pm. Each of these events includes a short lesson on a subject related to medieval history or castle life, accompanied by a hands-on activity using common household items!

  • Crown Making 22nd May
  • Boat Making 29th May
  • Virtual Sundial-Making 5th June
  • Mason’s Marks Making 12th June
  • Medieval Technology (torch making) 19th June
  • Medieval Games 26th June

For more information, see our website or Facebook page, and to sign up for any of these events, email Blythe at education@dundonaldcastle.org.uk.

Shifting to Online Education

With businesses, restaurants and tourist sites all shut down for the foreseeable future, it seems like everyone is finding ways to work from home – and the Dundonald Castle Education team is no exception!

While it’s very disheartening to not be able to carry out all of our planned school visits and hold our various educational events this spring, we’re trying a few new things to reach our loyal audience. These new initiatives began last Friday with a free Zoom event centred around heraldry and shield making. With the success of that event, we will be doing another apothecary-themed medicine making event next Friday, and we will continue to do virtual events every week as long as the audience remains interested.

In addition, we are working hard on videos to release every Monday and Wednesday. Monday’s videos, the first of which was released today, will focus on various items in the castle’s collection (I’ll leave the link at the end of this post). On Wednesday we will be starting a series which focuses on the history and various incarnations of Scotland. The first video will focus on life and culture in the Iron Age, and what Castle Hill looked like at that time.

Alongside this, to try and make up the experience sadly lost buy the school children this Spring, we have reached out to each school that had a visit scheduled with this to offer virtual activities to their students via Zoom.

We’ll be posting all of our videos on our new YouTube channel – Dundonald Castle Education – as well as this blog and all of our social media channels, so please follow along with us!

If you would like to sign up for any of our virtual events, please email me (Blythe) at education@dundonaldcastle.org.uk

Working around the Winter Weather

Typically, education visits to the castle can be made up of a variety of activities, which vary greatly depending on the age of visitors and the topic we’re focusing on – but nothing seems to impact our plans more than the weather.  Over the winter months, we’ll continue on taking bookings as usual, the major difference being that the plans for these visits will need a Plan B, a Plan C, (and often plans D, E, F, G and H), to ensure that we’re able to work around the weather, and that everyone still has fun.  As the last few days the winter weather has been weighing heavily on all of our minds’, I’d like to talk through some of the solutions we’ve used in the past, and the activities that are still available when the weather isn’t so fun.

A typical visit of Primary 2-4’s for Knights and Castles, which is our most popular topic and age range, would now include the apothecary, armour handling, a castle tour, the hunting game, jousting and shield making.  To begin with, the children are welcomed into the toasty warm visitors’ centre, and we spend roughly the first hour inside, where we go through any safety concerns, tour the museum, use the toilet, and have a snack. After this is where it can get a bit sticky: 

Last week one very unlucky class came to us in the freezing rain.  To make sure we didn’t make 27 P3’s standing getting soaked in a wintery downpour, the apothecary activity was moved from inside the castle to inside the visitors centre, keeping the children inside a heated building for as long as possible, and making room for the jousting inside the hall so that no activities had to take place fully outside.  The heavy rain meant that the hunting game, which requires a large open area, could not be run, but we had a treasure hunt on hand for use in the great hall – though in this case the children enjoyed the armour display so much it wasn’t needed.  Even the tour was still possible, with only brief highlights of the exterior and lingering in the dungeon and the hall to point out the external features to keep the children protected from the elements.

The program, then, had to see very little change.  In the morning, as planned, one half of the group went up the hill and did an armour and weapons display, followed by jousting in the great hall, and the second group began with the apothecary in the visitor’s centre and then continued with a tailored tour.

Not all winter weather has to keep us inside, though.  Every time there is a hint of inclement weather our general manager goes up the hill to risk asses, and any possible ice is gritted to make the way clear and safe for teachers, students and our staff and volunteers, meaning that mild amounts of snow or ice don’t always have to throw us into our backup plans.  Moral of the story, come rain or shine, we make sure our students enjoy their visits, and stay safe!