Monday 24 September 2018
Beacons of the Past was officially launched on Saturday 15th September, with a fantastic celebration held at Desborough Castle Park, High Wycombe. The event started at 3.30pm and attracted over 100 participants including volunteers and local residents. Mayor Sarafaz Khan Raja and Councillor Mohammed Hanif were also amongst our visitors, hosted by CCB Chairman Ian Reay and Chief Officer Sue Holden.
The Iron Age was brought to life with a variety of demonstrations that featured typical skills and methods familiar to Iron Age people. Kim Biddulph was our very own Beacons' Master Chef, presenting her cooking along with samples of bread, butter, cheese and more - all made with prehistoric techniques and ingredients, of course. Will Mills demonstrated flint tool making techniques, and David Willis taught prehistoric bushcraft using nettles and other plants to make string and rope.
Visitors witnessed the first prehistoric furnace at Desborough Castle since... well we may find out later in the project! But in the meantime, we were treated to a copper smelting demonstration by Dr Peter Hommel who also cast replica coin and brooch pieces in pewter - remarkable skills and techniques that definitely brought insight into Iron Age capability.
Steph Rodgers from Chiltern Rangers hosted a 'build-a-box' workshop which attracted lots of younger visitors to create an array of brightly decorated boxes; these will be positioned in and around Desborough Castle and Castlefield woods. There was also Iron Age 'Celtic' facepainting by Jen Quille and, as a result, a good many colourful young faces running around!
Alison Doggett, board member of CCB delivered a wonderful speech describing how the idea for Beacons of the Past first came about in early 2013, and remembering the tremendous effort and determination shown not least by Shirley Judges, previously a CCB board member herself who tragically died in 2014. Dr Wendy Morrison, our unstoppably enthusiastic archaeologist who heads up the Beacons project, welcomed local residents to their very own hillfort at Desborough Castle, and outlined the exciting opportunities ahead for volunteers and enthusiasts.
Following the speeches, two beacons were lit - one on Desborough Castle and the other on West Wycombe Hill. Once the sun had faded in the West, visitors were treated to the sight of the West Wycombe beacon from Desborough Castle.
An amazing launch but only the first of many Beacons events coming up. See you at the next one!