The next part of the Project was intended to highlight the Iron Age connections the village appeared to possesses, in the form of a Festival on the village green. The weekend of 8th and 9th June 2013 was chosen and planning meetings took place, contacts with various organisations and craft groups were made. The intention was to have ‘live’ entertainment and stalls and craft demonstrations. The late Roman re-enactors ‘Comitatus’ were approached for advice about where we could find Iron Age re-enactors. This turned out to be a good move as they immediately jumped at the chance to extend their area of expertise by creating the costumes and weapons necessary for the show.

There followed some difficult times as the enormity of the challenge I had set myself became more and more apparent. Permission from the Parish Council was obtained to allow us to use the village green. Since the last event on the green the year earlier, the law had changed and I now had to get permission from the Selby District Council and employ a traffic management company since we wished to close part of the road for spectator safety. Lots of forms and risk assessments later I then had to get insurance. Our regular insurance company refused to cover the event and special insurance was necessary even though Comitatus had their own insurance.

Eventually everything was arranged and volunteers came forward to assist on the day. Lists of duties intended to ensure that nobody had to do the onerous tasks all day and miss out on seeing the spectacle that was to be the Celtic Festival.

Comitatus turned up the day before and erected their camp with tents etc on the green, portable toilets were delivered, fencing erected and signs for parking placed in strategic places. Everything was ready.

The first day dawned with good but cool weather. Once again, the Ellwood family came up good by providing a tractor and trailer to transport people from the green to the roundhouse. My plans had been to have one trip every 2 hours and I would provide the presentation at the roundhouse. After a slow start the 2 hourly trip went by the board and became every hour and I received invaluable assistance from Roger Weatherill on both days. The roundhouse trips were so popular that on day 2, Sunday, I had to get another tractor and trailer laid on and there ensued a constant stream of people up and down Hugh Field Lane. Not sure if it was the tractor trips for the children or my exceptional descriptive abilities but over 600 people enjoyed the visit over the two days.

However, the main events were taking place on the village green: stalls for bread-making, spinning and weaving, pole-lathe demonstrations, pottery, falconry and the chance for children to make a helmet and have a battle with the Celtic warriors.

Tony Stevens and the pole lathe                                                         Maxine Birkett and spindle whorl spinning

There were several shows over the two days of both cavalry and infantry battles between the Romans and the Celts. There was the firing of bows and arrows from horseback, lance demonstrations as well as remarkable horse riding skills.

The Iron Age campsite set up on the green was a source of great interest as people watched everyday life from 2000 years ago.

We believe that well over 1000 people attended over the two days, an excellent return for a lot of hard work by a lot of people. Almost £500 in donations was collected that will allow us to continue our work after the Heritage Lottery funding has run out. Not only that, but, it introduced lots of people to archaeology, especially children.

Death of a Warrior                                                                                                         Battle

Mortal Combat

                                                          Roman Cavalry

In the evening of Saturday a folk group called Colleen’s Fancy performed on the green and at least 150 people turned up to sing and have a picnic. The members of Comitatus dragged their campfires into the centre and drank and sang long into the night. It is even rumoured that one enthusiastic Celt reveller fell in the pond.

The following day the members of Comitatus were keen to hold a photo-shoot at the roundhouse, so they walked their ponies to the roundhouse- quite a sight I must say.

By Sunday night there were a lot of tired but very satisfied helpers who had contributed to a hugely successful two days. Subsequently, many kind words of congratulations lead us to suspect that this was really enjoyed by everyone who attended this free event. Requests to stage a similar event next year fell on deaf ears.

Photo shoot at the roundhouse

A full version of this item can be found in the book: ‘North Duffield: Archaeology and the Local Community’ for sale from this website at £12.50(£15 with P & P)