I have just been here today for an amazing trip with 34 children. This is one of the best places I have been for an educational visit and I can highly recommend it to anyone who has even a passing interest in history.
Murton Park is very easy to find as it is located just off the A64 near York. It is part of the Yorkshire Faming Museum although we didn't see many animals on the bit we visited today.
The children today were visiting the Dark Ages part and became Anglo Saxons for the day in order to learn about that period of history. The guides who were organising and running the role play were very knowledgable about their subject and this certainly helped the children to learn absolutely loads. The children dress up in clothes in the correct historical style and are told about why people wore these. They were also told about how many people there would be in a family (around 10 children per family with only about 2-3 surviving). They were split into 4 'families' and we set off for the village to complete different activities. The village looks fabulous with quite a few wattle and daub huts that the children can go inside.
The activities the children took part in were: housework (cleaning the hut, grinding grain for flour, collecting firewood), making oil lamps out of clay, weaving (this was because the farming activity could not be done because of the weather) and guard duty. I think the guard duty was the favourite activity as they protected the village from the Celts with spears (rubber tipped!) and shields. We had a visit from a Celt raider and the children got called to the border of the village to scare the spy off!
In the middle of the day was a banquet held back at the centre. This consisted of soup and bread, cheese and biscuits and some fruit all served up by the adult 'slaves'. They had to entertain the Lord of the village by telling some jokes.
I can highly recommend this visit for any teachers wanting their class to experience and learn first hand what it would have been like to live in this time. If you are looking to visit Murton Park with your family, look out for the special activities that are organised during the school holidays and weekends. In the leaflet I picked up they say that every Tuesday and Thursday during the summer holidays there are Living History activities where you can have a guided tour of the village and make a Roman pot or Viking bracelet.
As well as Anglo Saxons visits, there are Home Front days (another class from our school experienced air raids and had to put out an incendiary bomb!) and a Roman Fort. They also have experienced and entertaining staff who visit schools to bring a historical experience to the children - every year we have a Tudor Christmas and I have learned something new each year!
Prices for individual visits are: adults £5.50, Children £3.50 and under 3s are free. Family tickets (2 adults and 2 children) are £15. For school visits a full day costs £12 per child and half a day is £8.
I really can recommend visiting this museum with a group of children or looking on the website to get details about holiday and weekend activities. Your children will be talking about it for months afterwards!
Murton Park is a very varied day out for all with many attractions for one price all on one ten acre site only three miles from York, Yorkshire Museum of Farming, Derwent Light valley railway, Danelaw a Dark Age Village and Brigantium a replica Roman Fort with Celtic Roundhouses. The Yorkshire Museum of Farming has a selection of farming machinery from all aspects of farming in the Four Seasons and animals in the Livestock Building and in the fields around the site. Derwent Light Valley Railway has a selection of working steam and diesel engines, which run up a quarter of a mile of track on selected days there is also a station which was moved piece be piece from Weldrake. Danelaw and Brigantium are both used as education sites where groups of school children are dressed up in costume and 'live' for a day as a Saxon, Viking, 11th Century peasant or a Roman auxiliary. Please note there may be restrictions to access while school groups are on site. The school groups that are regularly on site though the week do a variety of jobs suitable to the period these generally include pottery, farming, and house keeping which includes gathering firewood, grinding corn and cleaning. Finally they get to be a guard to help defend the village against danger which can include a raid on the village to see if they have learnt everything and to keep them in their toes. Brigantium also has a small replica Celtic settlement nearby and the Celtic settlement, Roman fort and the Dark Age Village are always being improved so rarely are two visits the same. There is also a farmhouse kitchen café offering a variety of home-made food and refreshments and a souvenir shop which has a selection of gifts mainly on the country theme. There are also special events that happen during the year these include Easter specials and Christmas specials. Many re-enactment societies also visit Danelaw and Brigantium, including Viking/Dark age re-ena
ctment/living history groups. Trailblazers a Wild West living history society and there has also been world war one re-enactment groups in the site there is also a blacksmith also bases himself on the site on some days. However all the re-enactment groups and the blacksmith are independent organisations/individuals and will not be there all the time. Danelaw the Viking village has also been used for the filming of historical documentaries for BBC and SKY TV. I volunteer my time to the history side, this usually involves dressing up in a period costume and talking/teaching people about the Vikings/Saxons/Medieval periods. However days vary as I could end up doing building work/thatching a roof or daubing the walls laying wooden roads or just doing some craft work by the firelight. Days also vary with regards to the history site as one trip you could find the village empty and another you could find Vikings everywhere and Cowboys on the Roman fort. So if you wish to have a varied day out and even learn a few things, then I would highly recommend Murton Park.