VISITORS to this year’s Chalke Valley History Festival will be able to touch, smell, and feel the past during a vast array of demonstrations and displays by living historians.

There will be medieval knights, Vikings and Anglo-Saxons, Celts and Romans, as well as a large Napoleonic encampment with infantry, artillery and even mounted cavalry.

There will also be a horse-drawn First World War ambulance offering rides throughout the festival weekend and a number of other historic vehicles such as a wooden replica of a First World War Tank designed to demonstrate to children what it was like to operate and fire.

James Holland from the festival said: “The Living History section brings the past alive in a way no other form can. There is much for all the family to see and do, from archery to sword school, to First World War training camps and seeing Second World War artillery in action.

“The main focus of our living history displays this year will be the Napoleonic era with a large festival weekend encampment – there will be displays and interactive talks throughout the weekend but also setpiece displays including both artillery and infantry from both French and Allied sides.”

Among the artillery on show will be a battery of four Second World War 25-pounder field guns and an original 17-pounder, which will be available for firing during the festival.

Highlights include:

  • A display by the Royal Signals Museum with five interactive activities, including Morse Code Training.
  • Firing demonstrations from ship cannons n Two Beefeaters attending on the Wednesday and Thursday of the Schools Festival in full regalia, telling tales from the long and often bloody history of the Tower of London.
  • A Celtic Iron Age encampment set up with activities including cookery and daily life.
  • The chance to witness Norman siege techniques and weaponry.
  • A series of displays demonstrating a First World War hospital tent and the medical process for wounded men travelling from the front-line trenches back to hospital in Britain.
  • An interactive Commando training course and the recreation of a Prisoner of War camp in Germany.
  • Volunteers will be recruited to join the PoWs where they will learn about daily life but also escape plans, resistance techniques and then take part in an escape attempt through a tunnel.
  • Sword School – how to sword fight medieval style
  • An above-ground replica First World War Trench with dug-outs.