Things that Go Roar in the Night – Duncarron Halloween 2013

It’s the weekend before Halloween and there’s an eerie feel in the air around Duncarron Medieval Village. Torches line the pathway, the crow’s cage creaks as it swings on its chain, the witches’ cave is a dark, expectant maw and the stall holders look to the trees for fear of what lurks within. Duncarron’s second Halloween event is about to begin.

For the 2013 event, the good people of Duncarron have called for help from the dwellers of the otherworld and the netherworld to protect them from the Troll and his orc army. Villagers have been disappearing for weeks and their children have been troll-napped. Elves, dwarves, rangers, goblins, witches, fauns and demons will join forces to defend the humans and their children from the evil that lurks in the surrounding forest. The Night Watch and the Non-Human Division are tasked with defending the pathways as members of the public make the brave journey to safety within the walls of the medieval village.

Some made the hazardous journey in daylight hours. Tame orcs, kept under control by children who led them on a chain leash, prowled the car parks. The orcs who lurked in the woods were not overly brave in the daylight hours. They tried to make a grab for the smaller humans but it turned out that small humans are courageous and, with the encouragement of the Night Watch and the NHD, they shouted at those cowardly orcs and sent them running into the forest. The small humans returned to the paths with protection charms from the witches and magic swords that they had bought in the village; those orcs never stood a chance. Always, though, always the threat of the Troll hung heavy in the air. Even the entertaining spectacle of orcs boom-boxing couldn’t lift the sense of dread that filled the hearts of all who knew of the Troll’s approaching power.

As darkness fell, the position became more dire, the small humans had been sent away for their own safety but still intrepid travellers made their ways along the paths to safety behind the palisade. The courage that had been bolstered by hot food at the welcome hut was soon scattered by the orcs who came roaring out of the dark woods. Fortunately the Night Watch were there to escort the travellers and they fought the orcs back to the treeline. In the dark, the witches’ nature becomes somewhat darker too. They were still there to offer protection to their human charges but the cackles and spells that they conjured around their fire held a sinister vibe that raised the hairs on your head. Each party of travellers was then checked by the Non Human Division to be sure that no orcs or troll-spelled children were sneaking into sanctuary and then, at last, they were in the safety of Duncarron’s walls.

The threat of the Troll still hung heavy in the night air. The gates were shut tight and the villagers wore false hope like an old cloak. A shout went up from the walls. The heroes were coming in at speed. Open the gates! In rushed the dwarf and the ranger, bringing the NHD with them. They delivered their message to the Village Chief. The Troll was coming and the Orc King was bringing his army. From the darkness the orcs appeared, sorcery had brought them within the palisade. Nowhere was safe. Screams of terror bounced around the walls as the Orc King and the Wraith appeared on the platform over the murder hole. A bright light shone out from behind the terrified villagers. Gasps of awe and renewed hope filled the air as the Elf Queen and her entourage made their way in a halo of magical light to meet the Orc King. A blast of elven magic brought the great Orc to his knees and he rose again with his allegiance to Duncarron. A great cheer went up which was soon silenced by the appearance of two troll-napped children.

Troll-napped children are able to speak for the Troll, they are detached from their humanity, slaves to his will. It was a devastating sight for the villagers who had lost so many of their children to the Troll’s power. His message promised death and destruction. The ground shook and thunder crashed as the Troll came to Duncarron’s gates. With a mighty roar the Orc King ran out to meet the terrifying creature. Steel clashed and howls rang out, then silence. All inside the palisade waited to see who would appear through the gate. At last the gate creaked open and the Orc King staggered through. There was cheering and rejoicing but the orcs within the palisade were not ready to surrender. A great battle ensued between orcs and heroes. The NHD protected the villagers and the courageous visitors. The Wraith almost conquered the Orc King but, in the end, victory belonged to Duncarron. Finally the villagers could celebrate. The surviving orcs were taken to the longhouse for all to poke fun at.

The intrepid travellers who had come to Duncarron for sanctuary were able to make their way home in safety… although the NHD were on the look out for a child or two as a donation for their supper pot, it would have been a fair reward, don’t you think?


Schiltron, Chainmail and Cowpats


In the middle of the Scottish countryside is a muddy field, normally inhabited by a herd of cows. It is surrounded by golf courses and rolling hills whilst boasting a meandering burn and an impressive stone bridge. On entering through the field’s gate to the sight of horseboxes, portable loos, tents and trucks you could be forgiven for thinking that you had stumbled upon a local point-to-point. You could be forgiven only for so long as it took you to round the wall of vehicles and be greeted by the sight of horses in caparisons mounted by knights in chainmail, a giant green screen and, in the distance, a fierce Scottish schiltron bellowing at some cameramen. This is the BBC’s filming of Bannockburn, the documentary, and the men and women of the Clanranald Trust are right in the midst of it.

Having taken in the thrilling sight before you, you would notice a large, white marquee full of costumes to turn 21st Scottish soldiers. You would see men and women walk in wearing their Clanranald and Duncarron hoodies and walk out in chainmail, plate and helmets. Sometimes they were dressed to fight for the English, for King Edward II and Gloucester; sometimes they were dressed to fight for the Scots, for Robert the Bruce. Sometimes they were peasants, sometimes they were knights, sometimes they were kings. For four days they would work in the sun, the mud and the cowpats whilst a team of volunteers kitted them out, mended costume and prepared for the next change of battle dress.

If you could have the privilege of staying and being a part of the whole experience, you would be left with memories that you would not easily forget. Watching a battle line of tough soldiers jostling each other before ‘Action’ is called so that they will not have to be the one to fall in a cowpat when they ‘die’. The sight of the Scottish schiltron brought back to life. The clash of steel as English and Scots battle whilst knights on horseback fight amongst them. The daily salivating over the caterers’ menu. Our waterboys changing out of their wet kit on the side of the burn as their colleagues, formed up in ranks wearing full kit, sing the striptease song to them. The unfortunate soul who had to drink the rain water gathered from the top of a tent because it turned out that it wasn’t just for show. All the brilliant photo opportunities both serious and funny. The army at sunrise. These are just a few examples of the many experiences you would take away with you.

You will have got to know the people. Neil Oliver, Tony Pollard, the BBC crew, the stunt riders, the magical caterers, Scott McMaster, Charlie Allan, the Clanranald actors – Robert the Bruce, Edward II, Gloucester, the Abbot, the English knight and the Scottish soldier and all the other Clanranald volunteers who worked tirelessly and with good humour for the fun of it and for Duncarron. Volunteers who travelled from as far away as Ireland and Cornwall. When it is all finished on Monday afternoon, you will be exhausted from the long hours and high octane energy levels required to get the work done and your sides will be aching from all the laughter that you crammed in between the professional work. You will, without a doubt, wake up at 5am on Tuesday morning and want to come back to do it all over again.