At Chalke Valley this summer we will have a wide range of living historians covering some two thousand years of history from the Romans through to a stunning World War II battle including tanks, artillery and infantry, so expect plenty of loud bangs and smoke!

All our living historians will be putting on a stunning array of demonstrations and displays: there are battles to watch, activities in which all the family can take part from historic cookery to ancient crafts and from sword school to Commando training WWII-style. And you will never find a single living historian who is not happy to talk and share with you his or her passion and immense knowledge.

Second World War

The centrepiece this year will be our World War II battle on Saturday and Sunday, which really will be spectacular. Intricately researched, the aim is to give an example of how British infantry, armour and artillery operated together by 1944 to overwhelm an enemy position and for this we have called up experts and veterans as well as genuine and still-firing examples of wartime weapons from tanks to guns to infantry. It is just one of many fabulous things on show, and we all really hope you will both enjoy it and find it fascinating. Among the tanks coming will be a Sherman, Cromwell and 17-pounder Tank Destroyer.

Also going on throughout the weekend is our SOE and Commando training course, so if you think you’re tough, you can be put through your paces and learn some of the skills needed to operate in Nazi-occupied  Europe.

The Battle for Wessex

The other major focus will be on King Alfred’s Battle for Wessex. Following the sacking of Chippenham, Alfred’s Wessex was reduced to a postage stamp’s worth of marsh in Somerset and yet within a few months he managed to gather an army, defeat Guthrum, reclaim Wessex and from that his son and grandson later created a unified England. It’s an unbelievably exciting period of our history which happened on our doorstep, and ties in with talks by the brilliant Michael Wood and Tom Holland and with the recent success of The Last Kingdom on the BBC. We will have a week of activities at our Anglo-Saxon settlement and a large number of re-enactors – some 100 plus – as well as a recreated Viking longship.

There will be a re-enactment of the crucial Battle of Ethandun of 878, when Alfred defeated Guthrum, and which will include the demonstration of a shield wall.  In between, they will be carrying out a wide range of activities, including very physical and full-on combat!

As ever, we will have a large number of historic vehicles on show, and this year, we will also have a static Spitfire and Hurricane on display all week.

In addition

There are mass of other periods about which to get excited, including a spectacular
Weaponry Through the Ages display, and lots of family-based inter-active activities too, including:

  • Celtic Wheat Grinding
  • Anglo-Saxon Bread Making
  • Anglo-Saxon Settlement – Traditional Crafts
  • Life in the Roman Legions
  • Life of a Celtic Tribesman
  • Viking Long Ship
  • Viking Combat
  • Archery Demonstrations
  • Life in Henry V’s retinue
  • Tudor Music & Dance
  • Tudor Fast Food
  • Tudor Gunnery
  • Musketry in the American War of Independence
  • Nelson’s Navy – Recruitment, Fighting and the Gun Deck
  • War of the Roses – Life and Combat
  • RNLI Historic Lifeboat
  • Second World War weapons & uniforms
  • The Trench
  • Battle of Waterloo Diorama with the BBC’s Peter Ginn and Mark Evans
  • The Battle of the Somme – Op NIGHTINGALE
  • WWII Tanks
  • WWII Truck Rides
  • Weaponry Through the Ages from the Celts to WWII
  • Celtic Warrior Training
  • Kiddie Vikes
  • WWII Commando Training
  • Children’s Activity Tent

Sword School

Sword School will also be returning, along with Have-a-Go-Archery, numerous stalls, and demonstrations. Our ongoing Anglo-Saxon settlement will also be developed further with camp fires and demonstrations of traditional crafts going on throughout the week.

In other words, whatever day of the week you come to the festival, there will always be much to see and do. We can’t wait!