Knucklas Iron Age Festival starts this weekend

Reporter:

Barry Jones

THE English border village of Knucklas near Knighton goes back to the Iron Age for a new event this Saturday, August 19, with “Knucklas 17.

The one-day arts-based family festival , with an underlying Iron Age theme, will take place on a beautiful and darmatic site which was once home to medieval Knucklas Castle. said to be the place Arthur married Genevere.

John Kenny, the world’s leading exponent of the ancient musicl horn, the carnyx, will be the festivbal’s principal guest.

”This August, the glorious Teme Valley will again echo with the majestic sound of the Celtic Carnyx,” said Michael Green for the festival.

“This astonishing musical instrument is a monster, standing six-feet tall and having a range of eight octaves. The “bell”, from which its sound comes was always fashioned as an animal’s head. Its voice could well have been heard along the Teme in the past, but if it was, it would have been some 2,000 years ago.”

Tonight, Friday, John, who is also a professional trombonist as well as a professor at both the London Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotlan, will be giving a talk entotled “The Mouthpiece of the Gods” at the Assembly Rooms in Presteigne.

John traces the history of music and, in particular, lip-reed (brass) instruments from the very earliest of times down to the present. He liberally illustrates his thesis on a wide range of instruments, ancient and modern, from stones and conch shells to brass instruments of today.

Throughout Saturday, there will be demonstrations of Iron Age crafts with the opportunity to try some of them. Iron Age crops have been planted, including corn, which will be ground and made into bread. Should the woad germinate, nobody will be painted, but cloth will be dyed with plant dyes.

A small exhibition of ancient artefacts will include exact replicas of three golden torcs which were found fifty years ago, a mere half-mile from the site.

Legend says that Arthur married Guinevere at Knucklas Castle but recorded history is more specific. It tells us that, in the 13th century, Ralph Mortimer built a real castle here. It is also widely believed that the summit formerly housed an Iron Age hill fort which is why the festival has an underlying Iron Age theme.

Set in sight of the village’s famous 13-arch railway viaduct, Knucklas 17 will run from midday till late and promises to offer its visitors a wide choice of experiences and attractions. Visitors are particularly being encouraged to arrive in time to experience the exciting and unusual opening ceremony which will begin at 12.45.

Many activities for young people are on offer: a cave-painting workshop, thumb-pot making, drop-spindle spinning, face–painting, a themed treasure hunt, story-telling, lots of fun with Play Radnor, and much more.

Throughout the day and at various points around the site, there will be music from individual musicians and small groups, some of whom are famous but playing incognito.

The spoken word will be well represented with talks, poetry and story-telling for grown-ups. There will be two guided walks, one looking at the plants and flowers on the site, the other exploring the trees in the ancient woodland which encircles the castle mound.

A poetry trail with some thirty poems from the Marches Poets will lead from the meadows through the woods to the summit. A pony and cart will be available to take the less-abled most of the way up the castle mound.

Food and drink of many kinds will be on offer: organic beef- and lamb-burgers, vegetarian meals and salads, Indian patties, and tea and cakes will all be found in the orchard and on the meadows. Here also will be the bar, selling wine, locally-brewed beer and cider, and soft drinks. On the castle mound itself, will be an airy café offering Prosecco, canapés and fine finger food to be enjoyed to the playing of acoustic balladeers.

The evening is given over to a concert featuring a folk group and a local youth band with interludes for poetry from Meg Cox and stand-up comedy from Ian Marchant.

The day will be rounded off by a jazz quartet led by Simon King, twice the Musicians’ Union “Young Jazz Musician of the Year”. John Kenny returns to join the band on some numbers with his trombone. As the sun sets there will be a break to enjoy an atmospheric closing ceremony before the final jazz set.

Th festival is also a celebration of eight successful years for the Knucklas Castle Community Land Project (KCCLP), which has created 25 allotments and an 80-tree community orchard during that time as well as managing grassland and woodland ecologically, making thesite accessible and wildlife-friendly.

Tickets for the event can be bought online from www.knucklas17.org or in person at local outlets listed on the website.

Email:

barry.jones@nwn.co.uk

See full story in the County Times

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