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Normans stage new invasion of Peak District

This is an archived press release

Tuesday 8 August 2006

8 August 2006

Normans stage new invasion of Peak District

The Normans returned to Castleton nearly 1,000 years after they had first arrived in the Peak District.

The Norman Conquest period re-enactment society Regia Anglorum staged a modern-day invasion (Aug 5-6) to help launch Peak Experience’s themed trails – the latest leaflet, Time Travellers, takes visitors on a self-guided tour of the Peak District’s history and archaeology.

Castleton is one of the tour’s highlights, and Regia Anglorum brought over 60 warriors and living history members so that the 1,200 spectators could see what life might have been like for the Saxons and Normans here in 1080 AD.

They installed a medieval tented village, demonstrated crafts including wood turning, leather working, weaving, metalworking and cooking, and staged a Saxon pagan burial using a replica long-boat.

Two Regia members played William Peveril and his wife, riding into the arena on horseback before William demonstrated jousting. The climax was a battle re-enactment between Saxons and Normans based on William Peveril’s arrival to take control of the valley for William the Conqueror.

Castleton was a small Saxon hamlet known as Peak’s Arse when recorded in the Normans’ Domesday book of 1086. The Conqueror installed his son William Peveril as baron of the Peak Forest hunting reserve, and Peveril built his castle on the rocky outcrop above Peak Cavern. This stronghold symbolised the new power in the region.

Within 200 years the village became known as Castleton – the town of the castle – and grew as a market centre under Norman rule.

The Peak Experience project – led by the Peak District National Park Authority in partnership with councils, tourism and business organisations – is launching themed trails on a bigger scale than anywhere else in the UK.

The first three are out now in Visitor Centres, or on www.peak-experience.org.uk - they cover history, churches and geology. Coming up in the autumn are film & literary locations and the Bloody Peak (in time for Hallowe’en), followed by antiques, the wild Peak, water, industrial pasts and how food-production shaped the landscape.

The aim of the free leaflets, maps and down-loadable information is to encourage visitors to explore the area’s rich heritage, and support related local businesses along way. Visitor attractions, cafes, shops, accommodation, craft-producers and food-suppliers are all detailed in the information.

Peak Experience officer Bill Bevan said: “We want to encourage people to stay longer, discover more and support rural businesses along the way.”

  • Peak Experience is funded by the EU Regional Development Fund and Derby and Derbyshire Rural Action Zone, with additional input from the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, English Heritage, English Nature, National Trust, Severn Trent Water, Staffordshire Moorlands District Council and the Peak District National Park Authority.

This is an archived press release

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