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Middle Ages without borders: a conversation on medievalism

Tommaso di Carpegna Falconieri
Pierre Savy
Lila Yawn

a) Bringing the Middle Ages to life

1) Experiencing the medieval at the National Trust: edutainment, authenticity, and place

Claire Pascolini-Campbell

Texte intégral

1The National Trust is the United Kingdom’s largest heritage organisation and boasts hundreds of medieval buildings as part of its collection. This paper explores the re-presentation of these sites as heritage attractions, focusing on the use of “edutainment” to engage visitors’ interest in the medieval past. Taking the “War of the Roses Weekends” at Tattershall Castle and Oxburgh Hall as its starting point, the paper unpacks the intersections between pedagogy, authenticity, and place within these “medieval experiences.” For instance, on the one hand, these events respond to the heritage tourism sector’s preoccupation with authenticity, purporting to transport the visitor back in time to the fifteenth century by providing an accurate simulacrum of “what everyday life was like 500 years ago.” This, in turn, offers ample opportunity for edification—the visitor is treated to historically accurate displays of medieval combat, including the firing of “real cannons.” Intriguingly, the narrative of authenticity is also place-based; although the Trust has many medieval properties, Tattershall and Oxburgh are distinct in their historic connections to the War of the Roses. If this emphasis on locality enables the Trust to tell the individual stories of its resonant places, it also testifies to an emotive understanding of their capacity to mediate across temporal boundaries. The “War of the Roses Weekends,” then, are at once exercises in edutainment and reflections of the nostalgic and imaginative capabilities of the Trust’s medieval places.


National Trust

© Publications de l’École française de Rome, 2021

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