We are very fortunate to have the support of Winchester University’s department of history and archaeology and of the Winchester and Hampshire councils’ museum services; as well as local organisations such as the Sustainability Centre on the South Downs overlooking the Meon Valley. These and other local and national organisations, such as Tha Engliscan Gesiðas (The English Companions) and Regia Anglorum (Kingdoms of the English) are offering us enthusiastic expertise to train people in the Meon Valley through workshops and fun-filled learning activities such as school Saxon days and engaging opportunities for adults and families.
We hope to do real Time Team investigations and in other ways to explore, learn and better understand the Saxon story.
Close your eyes and imagine this once in a life-time opportunity to learn how to weave, embroider, create pottery and fine jewellery; to cook, brew Saxon mead and celebrate this heritage in our Meon Valley mead halls; to listen to, and tell, epic stories and hold Saxon riddle quizzes; to play and enjoy music; to farm and to fight Vikings and Normans using seaxes and shields, to build and sail a Saxon long boat on the River Meon.
Imagine the opportunity to be, for a short period, a Saxon in the Meon Valley.
The Meon Valley is part of a larger, exciting and intriguing story of the creation of our nation in the Saxon era. Our programme will include opportunities to explore this through visits to iconic Saxon sites, exhibitions and events such as Wintonceastre (Winchester), Sutton Hoo, West Stow Village, the Staffordshire Hoard, the Saxon Princess, the British Museum Anglo-Saxon England, the British Library Saxon treasures and the English Heritage re-enactment of the Battle of Hastings.
We will also invite these organisations to visit the Meon Valley. The British Museum has already accepted our invitation and are in discussion with the Hampshire County Council to exhibit the Sutton Hoo exhibition in the Winchester Discovery Centre.
The fun will ramp up when we use our learning to start telling and sharing our story through this website, and through activities such as school Saxon days, festivals (community, art, book and music festivals) re-enactments, plays etc.
We have over the last few years already created such fun-activities with the First Saxon Festival in the Meon Valley and our annual Saxon learning days at Meonstoke and Droxford Schools. The fun that we all have had and feedback about these events have been an inspiration for the programme we are now launching.
In 2016 the English nation, and our Norman and Scandinavian friends, will be marking the 950th anniversary of the Battles of Stamford Bridge (where our good King Harold Godwinson defeated an invading force of Vikings) and Hastings (where he was defeated and killed by the Norman invaders). The defeat at the Battle of Hastings was the beginning of the Norman Conquest resulting in William, Duke of Normandy becoming King of England. William established his throne in Harold’s capital, Wintonceastre (now Winchester) just 12 miles from the Meon Valley.
Our learning and the story we create and share will contribute to shaping this 2016 anniversary.
To find out more about our programme which starts in May 2013, what activities and events we are considering, how you can suggest, help and participate go to our developing plans and then ‘register your interest’.