Does Saxon food matter?

(172 Posts)
learnandsay Mon 31-Dec-12 10:21:01

When I can I take my daughter to historical re-enactments. We haven't been to many yet and those that we have been to she hasn't liked much, except parts of Norwich castle.) The Viking one that we went to recently had open fires and the smoke got in her eyes. Then men with chain-mail and heavy shields fought and she asked if we could go home! But she did seem to absorb lots of details about their clothes, their food, their cooking methods and so on. So, even though she claimed not to have liked it I think that trip was worth it. Thinking about King Alfred makes me think of Saxon food. But in practice it seems so similar to Viking food that it doesn't seem worth making a special effort to visit such a re-enactment. Would this be fair? My daughter is very young. I think perhaps we'll visit Winchester when she's older. But for now we'll read about Sutton Hoo, (maybe visit) but beyond that will leave the Saxons alone.

Mrsrudolphduvall Mon 31-Dec-12 10:22:30

She doesn't seem to enjoy them very much.

learnandsay Mon 31-Dec-12 10:31:25

I know that they do re-enactments at Sutton Hoo too. But most of the time it's simply a museum. She likes museums. But you do get so much from a re-enactment that you don't get from a museum. I'm just thinking that for a small child who has seen so much of the basic details, course woven shawls, leather moccasins, heavy wooden shields, open fires, raw meat hanging by the fire ready to cook, etc. She has seen so many of the domestic details that she'd be likely to come across in a Saxon re-enactment would she benefit even if she liked them a lot? I think Sutton Hoo is different in that it shows a lot of artifacts from a supposed Saxon king and they are fantastic to look at. But at a re-enactment we are looking at an imagining of real daily ancient folk and their lives. And I'm thinking that she has seen so many of those details, does she need any more. (I guess not.) I'm not sure at what stage a pupil would need more detail.

Mrsrudolphduvall Mon 31-Dec-12 10:34:23

How old is she?

cheddarcheeselover Mon 31-Dec-12 10:36:47

I think you'd be better taking her on a trip to the park....

GlassTrees Mon 31-Dec-12 10:38:27

How about a soft play centre and a happy meal?

LIZS Mon 31-Dec-12 10:41:56

How old is she ? I don't think all kids ever appreciate such things nor do they need to more than passingly as part of NC. tbh I'd say leave the "events" for now - they sound a reflection of your enthusiasm rather than hers -and go for short trips to Museum of London , British Museum, castles, abbeys, Roman remains, Jorvik, Hampton Court et al . Perhaps join English Heritage so that when you are in other areas of the country you can drop in . dd loved the romance of Queen Victoria so we visited Osborne House and Buckingham Palace but even then you would find new things o see each time you go.

Rooobs Mon 31-Dec-12 10:42:04

How very specific confused

learnandsay Mon 31-Dec-12 10:42:04

Even if she was seven, eight or nine I'd find it difficult to see why she would need any day to day, domestic, details about the differences between Saxons and Vikings. (I'm not sure that those details are useful at any age, unless you're a professor of the dark ages or an anthropologist.) She's four and a half.

In contrast, we went to a Roman exhibition at our local museum last year and that was very interesting. The children spoke a bit of Latin, sat next to each other on a communal Roman loo and pretended to wipe their bottoms with a sponge on a stick, (all very Horrible Histories.) They all loved it. We went in a group.

I don't think it's so much the age which is the concern. To my way of thinking it's the activity itself.

TheNebulousBoojum Mon 31-Dec-12 10:42:53

I have two children, one obsessed with history and one allergic to it. I'm a history bod.
How old is she and what are you hoping to achieve by taking her?

Bazinga12 Mon 31-Dec-12 10:43:33

I'd definitely take her. Lack of experience re the differences between Saxon and Viking food has held me back in life in many ways.

ChiefOwl Mon 31-Dec-12 10:44:06

Quite a confusing thread op, is there a reason why you are so ken your dd learns these things at 4.5?

Rooobs Mon 31-Dec-12 10:44:45


TheNebulousBoojum Mon 31-Dec-12 10:45:42

Are you the full shilling?
Small experiences that are fun is the way to go, variety and not endurance. Why are you focusing on the Saxon and Viking period? One of my passions, but you are doing overkill in a big way.
Is this a reverse AIBU?

Mrsrudolphduvall Mon 31-Dec-12 10:45:51

grin bazinga

TheNebulousBoojum Mon 31-Dec-12 10:46:49

Yes, I know it's in primary, but is your partner a history nut?

TheSecondComing Mon 31-Dec-12 10:47:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheNebulousBoojum Mon 31-Dec-12 10:49:04

OI! I'm a teacher and I think the OP is irrational. grin

learnandsay Mon 31-Dec-12 10:49:11

No, I'm the history nut. Well, perhaps we both are. But I'm keener on the actual doing. The other half has a degree specialism in Mary Queen of Scots. I don't think we'll be investigating that for at least a couple of years.

TheSecondComing Mon 31-Dec-12 10:52:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

The sound you just heard was my jaw hitting the floor.

My kids have always enjoyed coming with DP and I to visit English Heritage and National Trust properties and events. But we never went into this kind of detail at the age of FOUR.

Have they suffered because we didn't? Certainly not. At that age it is more important to get a well-rounded introduction to education. The kind of minute detail you are discussing is, IMO, more appropriate to a kid studying for GCSEs.

But the key comment you've made is that she hasn't liked the reenactments much, yet you seem to be ignoring that.

Rooobs Mon 31-Dec-12 10:54:22

Don't forget to cover the history of songs about poo and wee (our specialism, so maybe I'm biased).

TheNebulousBoojum Mon 31-Dec-12 10:54:33

Are you trying to put her off for life?
Tell her stories about some of the events and people, let her cook at home, dress up and do some infant art and craft, let her choose which period she's interested in. It's a sod of a time of year to take her to things, bleak endurance and cold.
Where in the country are you?

CanIHaveAPetGiraffePlease Mon 31-Dec-12 10:55:11

Poor child. I can just about understand your obsession with teaching her to read but why on earth this???!!

Do you ever just play with her? Go to the park? Play with dolls? Make play dough? Go to toddler groups? This talk of her as a 'pupil' does reflect how you come across. Do you see her as your project to educate? What about as your daughter ? To play with and have fun with and enjoy being a child with?

Do you have any difficulties yourself? This is quite an odd approach. Have you been to children's centres or similar. There might be parenting courses or support workers who can help you with the 'just playing ' element of parenting. . .

Bazinga12 Mon 31-Dec-12 10:56:16

On a scale of one to Boris Johnson, how mad do you consider yourself to be OP?

Mrsrudolphduvall Mon 31-Dec-12 10:56:58

I thought it was a wind up but op is established poster.

It could be the strangest post of the day.

insancerre Mon 31-Dec-12 10:57:23

Sometimes when you get a tiny glimpse into other people's minds it can be terrifying.
Good luck with the teenage years, think you're going to need it.

learnandsay Mon 31-Dec-12 10:57:29

CanIhave, what do you mean about difficulties myself?

Mrsrudolphduvall Mon 31-Dec-12 10:57:35

bazinga you have my vote for most numorous poster today

Mrsrudolphduvall Mon 31-Dec-12 10:57:50

Humorous even.

Bazinga12 Mon 31-Dec-12 10:59:45

Thanks Rudolph, I'm feeling rather numerous today

TheNebulousBoojum Mon 31-Dec-12 11:00:22

'CanIhave, what do you mean about difficulties myself?'

Well, my Aspie is the history obsessive, so no detail or activity is too much for him if it fits with his focused interests. You seem blinkered and unaware of what your DD might actually enjoy.

CanIHaveAPetGiraffePlease Mon 31-Dec-12 11:00:49

I don't think its a wind up. Have you seen the multiple posts wrt teaching her child to read?

My armchair psychologist view would be that she is intelligent and capable and putting all her energies into 'project educate child.'

RubbishCrackerPuller Mon 31-Dec-12 11:02:05


learnandsay Mon 31-Dec-12 11:02:14

On the whole I think she enjoys indoor things more. She loves museums.

SetPhasersTaeMalkie Mon 31-Dec-12 11:02:28

Does Saxon food matter?


Your daughter is not old enough. She is not enjoying it. Why would you do it?

fuzzpig Mon 31-Dec-12 11:02:38

Aww bazinga, I'm so sorry you lacked a decent education sad how inconsiderate of your parents not to teach you such things.

TheNebulousBoojum Mon 31-Dec-12 11:05:39

Saxon food can be yummy, we often cook and eat historical meals here and had a Tudor Christmas.
It's one of the aspects that my allergic-to-history child enjoys.
But really, OP. Variety.

I think I'm agreeing with CanIhave here. It looks very much like the OP has gone into education overkill.

I think there is a reason so many other countries leave things like formal education to an older age and yet are still ahead of the UK in the education league tables.

At the age of four I think learning through play should really be the main thing.

TheSecondComing Mon 31-Dec-12 11:07:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheNebulousBoojum Mon 31-Dec-12 11:08:17
SetPhasersTaeMalkie Mon 31-Dec-12 11:08:24

DS loves museums but mainly for the gift shop.

learnandsay Mon 31-Dec-12 11:09:40

Wow! thenebulous. Thanks.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 31-Dec-12 11:10:09

OP - 'does Saxon food matter'.

No. Not even slightly. Not at any age unless you're studying that period at degree or postgrad level. A child may find it interesting - in the same way all sorts of things are interesting. The Roman thing you mention sounds great and age appropriate. But even there - no-one actually needs to know what people did pre-Andrex.

Take kids to re-enactments, medieval fairs etc if you all find them fun. Take them to museums, historical sites etc if you all enjoy them. Whatever you do don't overdo your own pet passion if your kid is reluctant (my DH turned DD right off geology for a while - fortunately I think geography teacher at a more appropriate age has mended that)

garlicbaubles Mon 31-Dec-12 11:12:01

Thinking about King Alfred makes me think of Saxon food.

Oh, me too! The name Alfred always brings round spelt loaves and flagons of mead to mind. So does the name Cnut, though it has to be said one rarely meets a Cnut these days, except as a typo. I think your point is very sound, OP, there is insufficient difference between Fred's food and Cnut's cuisine to enthrall a four-year-old. Take her swimming instead.

learnandsay Mon 31-Dec-12 11:14:27

grimma, I think there's something in what you're saying that I'm trying to get to. I'm not sure that anybody actually needs to know anything about history, do they? I mean couldn't we junk it entirely?

But Horrible Histories is on to something. You can make history great fun.

Mrsrudolphduvall Mon 31-Dec-12 11:15:22

The gift shop is invariably the best bit about museums.
And the cafe.

I have a degree in history, but am bored to death by most museums. I have never taken mine to one apart from the Imperial War Museum, which is fab.

garlicbaubles Mon 31-Dec-12 11:16:44

Have you been to Jorvik? They do lots of child-friendly things smile

learnandsay Mon 31-Dec-12 11:19:32

Interesting, garlic. Thanks.

SetPhasersTaeMalkie Mon 31-Dec-12 11:19:36

Yes you can make history fun, but you aren't doing that. By your own admission your daughter is not enjoying these activities.

There is a whole lot of middle ground between investigating Saxon food and 'junking' history altogether.

MmeLindorNOTYET40 Mon 31-Dec-12 11:20:20

I'm concerned that you will so overload your DD that she will switch off entirely. You are interested in history, your DD will pick up on your interests but if you push this much detail at her all the time, then she will likely start asking for Malibu Barbie and pink nail polish.

Dial it back a little and do some stuff that she actually enjoys.

WhenAChildIsBawnTigga Mon 31-Dec-12 11:20:31

just marking my place as this thread is v 'interesting'


learnandsay Mon 31-Dec-12 11:22:14

Well, she only got smoke in her eyes once. We've done lots of other things. I don't consider history to be just standing downwind of smoky fires.

CheeseStrawWars Mon 31-Dec-12 11:24:27

I'm going to repost the bit of Grimma's post you seem to have missed:

"Whatever you do don't overdo your own pet passion if your kid is reluctant (my DH turned DD right off geology for a while - fortunately I think geography teacher at a more appropriate age has mended that)"

And from your OP - "even though she claimed not to have liked it I think that trip was worth it". Worth it for who? You need to get your head around what is age-appropriate for her.

SetPhasersTaeMalkie Mon 31-Dec-12 11:24:36

Well, that's good to know OP.

learnandsay Mon 31-Dec-12 11:25:19

You can also get smoke in your eyes from a barbecue. But I wouldn't suggest going to the sea side and Happy Meals as a permanent replacement.

BlatherskitedaboutChristmas Mon 31-Dec-12 11:25:45

Agree with Grimma entirely

SetPhasersTaeMalkie Mon 31-Dec-12 11:28:12

It all sounds a little extreme. Try to find some middle ground between The Saxons and McDonalds.

learnandsay Mon 31-Dec-12 11:28:21

OK, cheese. But I think some of the outrage here is a bit beyond the target. I'm not suggesting that my whole family takes part in one of these TV re-enactments where the whole family spends a year living in the Iron Age.

InExitCelsisDeo Mon 31-Dec-12 11:28:34

Living museums give me mild hysteria. I would rather poke red hot pokers in my eyes, but each to their own.

I am sure there was a great difference between Saxon and Viking food and you should research it in detail.

Whilst your DD gets out the playdough?

TheNebulousBoojum Mon 31-Dec-12 11:29:56

What response do you want learnandsay?

learnandsay Mon 31-Dec-12 11:31:38

theneblous, this is a forum. People post their opinions. I post mine.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 31-Dec-12 11:32:34

> I'm not sure that anybody actually needs to know anything about history, do they? I mean couldn't we junk it entirely?

Oh no. Some historical knowledge - at higher levels - is important in thinking about the development of the human race, how things worked out in the past, how the past informs the present - current conflicts have their root in history. You can't reallly access a lot of literature without a context of historical knowledge - and great literature is one of the best ways to understand human nature.

There are all sorts of things we don't need to know, per se - but we'd be bored and boring people if we didn't know anything but essentials. For small children, exposure to a wide variety of matters in ways they enjoy is hugely enriching. If your child loves museums - wonderful! But if they prefer stomping around Vinolanda in the rain then that's good too grin.

MmeLindorNOTYET40 Mon 31-Dec-12 11:33:42

No, you are missing the point.

Your DD is not an extension of you. She may share your interest in history, she may not.

Parents who are obsessed with a particular hobby or passion and drag reluctant kids along should not be surprised if the child then turns away from their interest.

Wether that passion is history, science, star wars or classic cars - don't over do it.

IWipeArses Mon 31-Dec-12 11:33:56

That book looks good Nebulous, I've stuck that on my wishlist.
Mumsnet, ever educational.

mrz Mon 31-Dec-12 11:33:59

If she's not enjoying it I would wait rather than risk putting her off totally.
I confess my daughter was taking part in Viking camps at a much younger age but she was as much of a "Viking groupie" as her mum by the age of 3 and when she was 5 or 6 helped build an (authentic) Anglo Saxon wattle and daub hall.

Bede's World will provide Saxon food for group visits I'm not sure if they do it at other times

learnandsay Mon 31-Dec-12 11:35:51

Great post, mrz.


TheNebulousBoojum Mon 31-Dec-12 11:37:24

That doesn't answer my question, learnandsay. What are you hoping to get from posting your opinion?
I've been to hundreds of re-enactments, museums, activites and buildings with my children. They have cooked and whittled and wattled and daubed and fenced and shot and learned and played. One loved it and still does, one liked bits of it until she got to be around 10ish and then moved away from history as a choice.
What do you want?
You ask about re-enactments, but I haven't a clue where you live, so is that what you actually want, or are you just messing around with us?

learnandsay Mon 31-Dec-12 11:38:50

In part to your question, the neblous, I think in was particularly the smoke in her eyes that my daughter was objecting to not history or re-enactments per se.

BlatherskitedaboutChristmas Mon 31-Dec-12 11:39:33

Unless your daughter is massively interested in the Saxons - and it doesn't sound like she is - then I would say No, Saxon food does not matter at all for a 4 and a half year old.

You risk making her hate it if you are a single minded about the subject as your op and selective post reading suggests.

JugglingMeYorkiesAndNutRoast Mon 31-Dec-12 11:42:51

Posting because this thread came up as top in active convo's - slightly bizarrely !

Agree it seems rather crazily specific grin

But it has inspired me to take my DC's to some re- enactments, castles, and stately homes in the New Year - Then when they're grown up and criticize their up-bringing at least I can say "But I took you to Stately Homes" wink

Apologies to any Stately Homes survivors on here - I know it's not a laughing matter really and do empathise. But you have to take your humour where you can find it sometimes ?!

DameFannyGallopsBEHINDyou Mon 31-Dec-12 11:43:41

I think the most important thing we've taught ds so far it's that his opinion matters to us, that we'll change our mind about something if he makes a valid argument, and that we will never dismiss his feelings.

Do you do any of that with your dd?

simpson Mon 31-Dec-12 11:45:24

Seriously is this a wind up???

My DD is 4 and it would be my idea of Hell and hers too...

Her 7 year old brother is going to see the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace and is really excited....that is more age appropriate IMO....

noblegiraffe Mon 31-Dec-12 11:45:33

Why just the Saxons? If you're interested in history, then why not go right back with a trip to the Natural History Museum to look at the dinosaurs? Or to Norwich Castle to look at the Egyptians?

bruffin Mon 31-Dec-12 11:46:32

I dont get what you are asking either.

Are you complaing about the reinactments because your 4 year old isnt entirely enthralled by them?

I agree with the others you really need tovtake a step back including the reading and let your dd be a little girl.

DS1 loves history stuff but mainly because we bought him a foam sword and let him chase the seagulls with it.

learnandsay Mon 31-Dec-12 11:49:01

Well, your most recent post, theneblous, and mrz's are more or less the type of responses that I was after. I'm interested in mums who've wattled, daubed, dug post holes and carried out the embers with their children. What do I want my daughter/children to learn from such experiences? Nothing in particular any more than I'd expect them to be able to list a tea-clipper's rigging or regularly splice the mainbrace after one visit to the Cutty Sark. For me it's not so much about learning in its formal sense as experiencing. As far as I can tell, when you've experienced something you are in a far better position to learn about it. And initially I'm simply talking about visiting. I'm not talking about taking part in camps and so forth. I'm also not talking about how often we make such visits either. I'd imagine that we would only visit the Cutty Sark once. Do you need to know where I live for this conversation to make sense?

JugglingMeYorkiesAndNutRoast Mon 31-Dec-12 11:49:29

DH complains bitterly of a childhood blighted by many a trip to see "Beam engines" around the country. I think it was his step-father's passion.
I'm not sure quite what they are - think steam engines that don't actually go anywhere and you may be on the right track wink

TaggieCampbellBlack Mon 31-Dec-12 11:51:52

I feel somewhat inadequate.

I have never in my life considered whether saxon food matters sad

QuickQuickSleigh Mon 31-Dec-12 11:54:11

Not Saxon, but this place is brill for children a bit older than your DD.

Off topic, wrong age group and possibly too far away. Sorry OP!

fuzzpig Mon 31-Dec-12 11:54:23

It sounds like the name of a charity campaign!

simpson Mon 31-Dec-12 11:56:28

But surely you don't need to go to a reenactment about it, read a book or something. Cook Saxon food at home (if it floats your boat)...

DD is currently obsessed about elephants (but I am not taking her to Africa to see one - or even the zoo for that matter as she went a few months ago)...

We just read about them, she draws them (again and again and again - you get the idea smile ) look up pictures/footage on the iPad....

learnandsay Mon 31-Dec-12 11:58:20

Now that's quite brilliant, quickquick! I used to live don't in South Wales. We don't go there very often since the children were born, but we do still holiday there occasionally. We'll be visiting this one for sure. My daughter adores prehistoric people and has done ever since she saw the BBC history animations.

DP and I like history, but while we were visiting places, events, experiences, we were always (and still are) conscious that this is our passion, not the DCs passion. They enjoyed things with us, sure, but we made sure that for each trip out to see our stuff, we had/have a trip based on things that they like.

We've always done our best to ensure that we didn't force our likes onto the DCs.

OP this is the point several people are trying to make to you. Yes, it's good if there's something you all enjoy, but you do need to remember that a) your DC is FOUR and b) your likes, dislikes, passions even, are not necessarily going to be hers.

I can see what you are saying about experiences, but please don't overload the poor child.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 31-Dec-12 12:02:21

>or regularly splice the mainbrace
I should hope not! grin

Its all a matter of finding an appropriate balance of activities for your child(ren), isn't it?

tethersjinglebellend Mon 31-Dec-12 12:02:42


(mead for OP)

LIZS Mon 31-Dec-12 12:02:44

are you sure you aren't just projecting your enthusiasm onto her - adores is a bit strong for seeing the odd programme surely ! At 4 activities should be fun in their own right not part of an educational strategy. Next week she might be equally keen on ballet.

learnandsay Mon 31-Dec-12 12:05:18

I hear what you're saying, fryone. But there is sometimes a general panic abroad in these forums. And it seems as though saying that we went to see a Celtic roundhouse a year ago must also mean that I'm now forcing my daughter to build one in the garden and am beating her with nettles if she fails to raise the structure by at least three feet per day.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 31-Dec-12 12:06:54

Well I should think not... surely you should be cooking those nettles in a cand-cast iron pot? grin

LIZS Mon 31-Dec-12 12:10:48

but you aren't asking whether these experiences are suitable events to take your dd to , you are asking others to validate your decision to persist despite your dd not really enjoying them !

mrz Mon 31-Dec-12 12:12:02

My children loved visiting Danelaw dark age village

learnandsay Mon 31-Dec-12 12:15:24

No, lizs, I'm not. I'm asking: does Saxon food matter? The details about the re-enactment are incidental, (as people who have posted books on historical food have understood.)

TheNebulousBoojum Mon 31-Dec-12 12:16:23

'Do you need to know where I live for this conversation to make sense?'

Are you being deliberately obtuse? I live in Sussex, we have a huge range of opportunities of the sort you crave within daytrip reach. If you live in Wick, or The Shetlands there's not much point in recommending things that are 800 miles away.
When she's older, and only if she wants to, you could let her join

raspberryroop Mon 31-Dec-12 12:16:25

I'm a MRZ groupie and love the idea of her little girl joining in re enactments but think her dd at 4 enjoyed being around her mum and a group of probably very lovely people << used to be a celt>> outside doing forest school type activities, rather than 'being a saxon'. I'm sure it has sparked interest etc but how may 4 year old know how to place Saxons into context or a timeline or with real historical understanding.?

MirandaWest Mon 31-Dec-12 12:16:30

I really should take the DC to Murton Park seeing as it's very near me. Just never got round to it blush.

I have never really thought about Saxon food.

droves Mon 31-Dec-12 12:16:42

Sometimes museums do the " dress up as saxons/ medieval/ Vikings " activity days for children .

The one in Edinburgh did for awhile . Kids loved it .

Mabey she would enjoy that more than standing about outside looking at strange people pretending to be fighting.

learnandsay Mon 31-Dec-12 12:17:12

Thanks again, mrz. I'm going to bookmark this thread.

LIZS Mon 31-Dec-12 12:18:02

In that case given that the Saxon age is one of the least well documented eras despite covering several centuries of English social evolution, then no.

learnandsay Mon 31-Dec-12 12:24:38

No, the nebulous, I don't think that I'm being deliberately obtuse. But thanks for asking. People have posted recommendations which are indeed 800 miles away from me and I'm very grateful for them. I'm not the only person reading this thread. And I do intend to visit roundhouse village in South Wales, even though I live nowhere near there. And I've long intended to see work on Viking York even though I live nowhere near there either. My daughter also loved the Roman excavations in Kempten, Germany, although we live nowhere near there either.

MmeLindorNOTYET40 Mon 31-Dec-12 12:27:20

Ok, as I understand it, you took your 4yo to a Viking reenactment, which she did not particularly enjoy, but was interested in some parts of, such as the food and clothes.

Your question is, should you take your daughter to a Saxon reenactment, since the things that she found interesting are likely to be broadly similar to the Viking camp.

Is that right?

I am coming at this question as someone who dislikes the kind of dress up historical stuff - I can go along to this kind of thing and find it interesting but am quite dubious about folk who do this every weekend and drag their kids along when they'd be happier playing on their wii.

Anyhow. My answer to your question, is that I don't think a Saxon camp would be sufficiently different to a Viking camp to further the interest of your daughter. particularly when she didn't enjoy the first one.

And I think that you should consider the many posters who have given you advice on how your hot-housing of your daughter could back-fire and turn her off learning about history.

This is a discussion forum, and people are giving you advice and tips, most of which you are ignoring to concentrate on the few who are giving you ideas on other places to take your DD.

noblegiraffe Mon 31-Dec-12 12:28:25

Why didn't you ask for recommendations on good Saxon day trips if that's what you wanted? Instead of whether Saxon food matters to a 4 year old (answer obviously no)? confused

ShipwreckedUnderTheTree Mon 31-Dec-12 12:31:01

I think Saxon food matters.

In context.

I love history and I am also a teacher. With my kids, Saxon food would only matter if they were in a position to learn something from it. its particularly pointless if they don't do this and they don't enjoy it either.

So I tend to hold back on these sorts of activities unless they:

1. Show an interest in it from a book or film etc
2. They are studying it at school and what we do re-enforces they school work.

mrz Mon 31-Dec-12 12:37:11

raspberryroop I think the first time she went was to see what her mum was doing (I was a student and was taking part in a Viking camp with appox 500 children aged 4-6 along with other students from my uni) but she was hooked and we ended up spending most weekends travelling around England to various events at her request. She even dragged her boyfriend to Yorvik when he took her to York for a romantic weekend ... so you could say it's stuck.

tethersjinglebellend Mon 31-Dec-12 12:37:56

How about learning how people in the 1970s lived and give her Crispy pancakes and Angel delight for tea?

noramum Mon 31-Dec-12 12:39:06

My DD is 5.5 and obsessed with history. My DH and I both are interested, we have an A-level in history, we have the house full of books and visit castles, museums etc since she is born and was in a sling.

Her idea of a wet day outing is a museums visit.

I personally think that it is actually good to get an interest early, no wonder children are often put off later as nobody showed them how to appreciate it.

DD's school changed their annual outing from a castle to a manor house and DD said: "How sad for the others not to be able to see it". We are running out of local castles/manor houses to go to.

I personally think that there is no such big difference between Saxon and Vikings but if it is available, why not.

We had phases where she suddenly wasn't keen on the fighting bit but otherwise she always enjoyed it.

We still go to the park, play with her toys, paint, do arts & craft and watch TV.

learnandsay Mon 31-Dec-12 12:44:31

Um, mmelind, I think another way I could have asked the same question would have been to ask: Does historical detail matter? And I might have left the part about re-enactments out completely. The problem then would have been that people would have wanted to know what I meant by historical detail, which part of history, matter to whom and so on. So my framework was specific in order to avoid all of these questions. The downside of being so specific is that many people now seem to believe that I'm some kind of history junky who wants to force my daughter to eat raw meat because the Mongols carried meat beneath their saddles and ate it that way. Or they believe some other dreadful aspect of history must obsess me. I don't think going to a family day out qualifies you as a monster. I won't be asking my daughter to help me build a great tower of skulls because Tamerlane liked doing that.

MmeLindorNOTYET40 Mon 31-Dec-12 12:51:47

Look at the difference between your post and Noramum's post.

You took your daughter to a reenactment that she did not particularly enjoy, Norasmum's DD loves visiting castles and asks to do this every weekend.

That is my problem with your OP.

If your daughter did not enjoy the day, why not try different historical activities and see if she likes that better? If she shows no interest in history, will you still take her to these places?

We go on an 'educational' visit several times a year, interspersed with cinema, going to the beach, park, for a walk etc. - where they also learn about other things.

learnandsay Mon 31-Dec-12 13:02:06

mmelind, we have done. She loved the Roman excavations at Kempten in Germany. She loved the Roman day at our local museum. My question is not should I do things with my daughter that the loves? I think I can work the answer to that out on my own. My question is much more about historical detail and what its significance is. I don't think that it is unimportant that in the Middle Ages much more was known about plants and their use in medicine than it is today, for example. Modern education doesn't seem to me to find that important. Is it important? If I don't point it out to my children then who will? I'm not saying four year olds have to know about Medieval medicine. But I am raising the possibility that if we want our children to know some of the details about ancient life we are going to have to teach them ourselves. And some people might not want that. That's fine.

noblegiraffe Mon 31-Dec-12 13:08:54

She is 4. Expose her to a wide range of experiences now, worry about the fine details later when she's old enough to actually appreciate them.

MmeLindorNOTYET40 Mon 31-Dec-12 13:09:20

Well, I'm only going on what you wrote in your OP where you said she didn't Ike it, and the fact that you are getting bogged down with details instead of showing the big picture.

She is only 4yo.

And you cannot say, 'I only want opinions on this, not on whether I'm overloading my child with historical details' cause this is Mumsnet where we all have opinions we are glad to share smile

I get that you are intensely interested in history, and if your dd does grow up to share your passion, then that will be wonderful for you both.

But what if she doesn't?

mrz Mon 31-Dec-12 13:11:21

Did she like Roman food daughter had the horrors at the idea of dormice grin.

On the topic of Medieval medicine we made a few visits to Shrewsbury to the Cadfael experience (don't think it's still there hmm ) but part was making medicines from plants in the Abbey garden ... they also had a mystery to solved which was perfect for introducing children to life as a medieval monk

raspberryroop Mon 31-Dec-12 13:12:45

Mrz - I'm sure its suck but it didn't start as'' I must know what the difference between Saxon and Viking breakfasts were'' at 4 ? I think running around like heathens with 500 other kids sounds a bloody fantastic start though :P - Learnandsay kids learn through play and observation and interest not you pointing something out or at 4 having a lesson/life plan or curriculum. Take her to loads of different thing and even better do the immersion thing if you can but let her learn by just enjoying stuff. You sound wonderfully informed and interested that's all your child needs - relax go find a Saxon puddle to splash in. Do read some books about autonomous education if you can.

raspberryroop Mon 31-Dec-12 13:13:54

And no Cadfael has gone ;(

SetPhasersTaeMalkie Mon 31-Dec-12 13:15:19

There's a 'poison garden' at Alnwick Castle too. Great for a visit.

MmeLindorNOTYET40 Mon 31-Dec-12 13:16:00

Ok, I'll give an example from my life.

My DH loves classic cars. We go to classic car shows a couple of times a year.

8yo DS is also interested. I enjoy the day out. 10yo DD is totally disinterested.

So we choose car shows where we can have a wander around together before Dd and I go and look at something that interests her more, such as art galleries or museums.

And DH doesn't do what I saw a man a few years ago do - stand with his DS and explain the ins and outs of a engine, "Look, these are the pistons, and they do suchandsuch, this car is a 4 valve, as you can see here, but the one over there is a 6 valve which means it has 359 HP more, and has a top speed of 239 kmh, with a torque of 345 newton meters"

(yes, I know none of that makes sense, but it didn't to the poor little lad who was bored out of his mind and just wanted to look at shiny cars)

Age appropriate learning is the key here. Give them the big picture and they will later want to learn the details.

GrrrArghZzzzYaayforall8nights Mon 31-Dec-12 13:18:43

I agree with noblegiraffe, at 4 the wide experiences and seeing you enjoy it/enjoying it together is worth the world and what details are important can be seen to later when their interests and thinking can be easier to discuss.

But I also agree with you learnandsay that a lot of things have to be taught by us parents if we want them to be taught and that hands-on education is very important (though maybe put a pack of eye protectors/goggles for any future re-enactments with fire and a cloth to cover her face if it bugs her, I know I can be quite sensitive to it). For older kids, World History for All of Us ( is a framework I use for a lot of the history that is ignored/rushed/one-sided perspective whereas this gives a greater arching global one and it gives a lot of good details. Along with keeping a list places like those find in this site, I also have a reading list of books I want to expose the children to that are outside the normal box to cover details that I find important (more diverse authors for starters...).

LIZS Mon 31-Dec-12 13:19:06

Of our 2 dc one is ore interested in History as a subject than the other. dh is enjoying sharing his passion for modern history with ds as part of his gcse course. Ironically he doesn't enjoy any of the "living" type of activities you describe whereas dd does. Last summer both got more fun out of rushing in and out of towers, walls and ramparts of Welsh castles than taking the time to absorb exhibitions or those ghastly cinema things. Did it matter, of course not! At 4 she has a lifetime yet to explore topics and activities of her choosing, wait your time and you may find you do have something to share.

Like I said earlier, we like history here. Even simple discussions, such as about the differences in medicine then and now has helped them with history, when it cropped up.

But, my DCs are 12.5 and nearly 9, they are more able to appreciate the deatil now, whereas at the age of four, the detail went over their heads. They would have been interested in a bit of dressing up and maybe tasting one or two items of food, but that's as far as it went.

donnie Mon 31-Dec-12 13:26:34

weren't the Saxons and Vikings dreadfully sexist though?

these re-enactment camps, are they a bit more right on? are the women allowed to be independent?

genuine question.

mrz Mon 31-Dec-12 13:30:14

My eldest (at age 4 or 5) would have had the engine stripped down in seconds before putting it back together MmeLindorNOTYET40 grin but he also found the gruesome bits of history fascinating at the same age ... it's stages not ages. If a child is interested however young it's worth encouraging ...and as a mum I've been bored to death at air shows and various sporting events over the years too

LRDtheFeministDude Mon 31-Dec-12 13:30:50

learn, when you say 'Saxon food', how does this strike you?

To be properly authentic, you'll need, say, a cow that's stopped giving milk and is looking a bit ill. Ideally something scrawny and sinewy, not a nice fat Aberdeen Angus. Then you need to butcher it, hang it up somewhere unhygenic, and let it smoke for a bit while brushing the flies off now and again. Then hang it up inside your house and keep cutting bits off to eat while it slowly rots. You need to accompany this with some nice barley bread with bits of grit in it, which will tend to break your teeth.

Your 4 year old DD might get a wee bit sick, but you'll be very authentic!

Obviously I'm not actually recommending this, but I think a bit of flexbility about the authenticity might let you relax a bit and your DD enjoy herself a bit more?

If you're interested in something similar-but-different, there's a really nice book by LM Boston called 'The Stones of Green Knowe', which your DD is too young for really, but which she might enjoy read to her in a couple of years. It's got a lovely story about a boy whose grandmother is Saxon and whose dad is setting himself up in a new Norman world.

CaptainNancy Mon 31-Dec-12 13:35:53

my DD. Was scared by the fighting in re-enactments at the same age- it's way too realistic for them, they think it's real.

Food was all organic burgers and tofu-type stuff though, not saxon!

mrz Mon 31-Dec-12 13:39:32

No donnie the Viking women played an important role in society and even went into battle. Women maintained and controlled the household estate (not even their husbands could contradict a wife's orders relating to the daily running of the home) and inherited their husbands wealth on his death.

mrz Mon 31-Dec-12 13:42:37

Aberdeen Angus cattle probably came over with the Vikings the Saxon's didn't eat much meat in comparison

LRDtheFeministDude Mon 31-Dec-12 13:44:25

Saxons eat a fair amount of meat - not just cattle, but also pigs and sheep. We know a lot about the cattle and sheep because they then wrote books on their skins, so we can tell roughly how big the cows great in comparison to modern animals (which of course have been bred carefully and fed with all sorts of things, which make them very different).

LRDtheFeministDude Mon 31-Dec-12 13:49:39

(Btw, not that it matters, but AA cattle wouldn't be Viking - they don't have horns and all the Norse stuff assumes cows come with horns. I do not know how many 4 year olds need to know this ...)

mrz Mon 31-Dec-12 13:58:01

Aberdeen Angus as breed developed in the 19th C but their bloodline is from cattle introduced by Norse raiders mixed with local black cattle ... it depends on the 4 year old

sittinginthesun Mon 31-Dec-12 14:00:41

My eldest loves history, but most of his passion was driven by a decent children's history book, and various Playmobil sets. I have been in real trouble before for trying to Hoover around a re- enactment of the Mark Antony and Cleopatra sea battle thing. He also wrote to the head of Playmobil with his suggestions for an Ancient Greek range (and Wooden Horse etc). He didn't receive a reply.

When we took him to the British Museum, he couldn't get over how accurate the Egyptian stuff was, compared to the Playmobil

LRDtheFeministDude Mon 31-Dec-12 14:02:13

I expect that's right - I was pretty sure they were modern!

The reason I mentioned the cattle breed wasn't so much because a four year old can't be interested (my little brother could bore for Britain about farmers and farming at age 4). But more, the point is that the OP is getting ever so worried about the finer details of 'authenticity', and hoping this will spark her DD's interest, although that interest hasn't been in evidence yet. I'm just saying, I think you can go way too far trying to be 'authentic' and nit-pick at the details, and maybe if the child isn't interested, she's just not going to be?

I don't know.

mrz Mon 31-Dec-12 14:16:49

We are a farming family and my eldest's interests include rare breeds linked to history

LRDtheFeministDude Mon 31-Dec-12 14:18:02

That's nice. smile

My little brother would have been the same.

It's just, I'm not sure the OP's DD is the same, is she?

mrz Mon 31-Dec-12 14:24:37

as I said at the beginning ... if she's not interested leave it for now rather than put her off.

LRDtheFeministDude Mon 31-Dec-12 14:25:14

Sure, we agree.

learnandsay Mon 31-Dec-12 14:27:45

No, my daughter isn't particularly interested in the origins of animal breeds, I don't think. But she already has strong opinions about the historical time line from animals (that I know nothing about) right up to humans of the present day. I've often been told off for getting it wrong.

sittinginthesun Mon 31-Dec-12 14:28:34


OP, it's more a question of watching to see what grabs her, and then encouraging and stretching it. What does she really love doing at the moment?

MmeLindorNOTYET40 Mon 31-Dec-12 14:29:14

Ha. I'm sure there are lots of DC who are more interested in the engines than DS was/is.

He is currently working his way through a science set he got for Xmas and finding that fascinating.

mrz Mon 31-Dec-12 14:40:54

I think he just likes to take things apart grin

piggywigwig Mon 31-Dec-12 15:08:07

We're total history-buffs in our house - I'm an archaeologist and whilst we don't do it now, we re-enacted and did historical interpretation to a very high level (clothing to museum-standard, where possible and all that) We took part in prestigious events - both multi and single-period events. Importantly, we did it with our children from a very early age - DD2 was a babe-in-arms and attracted the "ooh, isn't she sweet" comments all the time. We've seen how things are set up and what's out there to engage the fee-paying public across all age groups. We've done talks and interactive events in schools and museums.

Anyway, to cut-to-the-chase...if your child doesn't like it, then why are you doing it? My youngest didn't like the loud noises of battle and she was brought up on it - DD2 doesn't care in the least. So we stopped doing military events. I have to say that very few "living history" sites I've come across, have catered for children under 5, in terms of engaging their interest. Only the very "switched-on" and enlightened/progressive groups recognise the importance of involving children of all ages in a meaningful and interactive way - their own and the public's children wink

Why does she need to know the difference between Viking and Saxon food? Children can get a lot from re-enactment - especially good quality, well-researched interpretation but I think that at such a young age, you're pushing it a little in terms of hoping she'll get something from it.
Museum days can be more structured in terms of activities as they can be more "hands-on", more interactive. They have more control over their environment - it's their "bread and butter". Re-enactors have to be incredibly careful with food and sharp, pointy things around the public - they're more restricted in many ways.
Softly-softly, catchee monkey is what I say. Try again later, or perhaps think about going along to the various events held as part of "National Archaeology Day". She's perhaps a little too young for the level you appear to wish to pursue when visiting re-enacments.
BTW - Saxon and Viking periods never did it for me

mrz Mon 31-Dec-12 15:23:47

Another place my children enjoyed visiting

bamboostalks Mon 31-Dec-12 16:01:56

Wow, this has been an eye opener. I always thought I liked history. Now I realise that I am in a very minor league in term of enthusiasm. Feel very pedestrian in just being a member of the National Trust.

BadgerB Mon 31-Dec-12 16:11:58

Why all the condemnation of the OP? I took my 4 yo nephew to Bosworth re-enactment and he loved it. Apart from seeking reassurance several times that "they're not REALLY dead, are they?" The falcons went down very well too.

I'm baffled by this thread. It doesn't seem that learn&say is even asking a question, just stating our intentions.

We love a bit of history and are members of EH & NT and enjoy doing this at the weekend. We hope the DC (7&4) enjoy it too. However, we have been careful about being too pushy.

For them it's mainly about running around the gardens. We have a great castle which they love running around. They might learn a fact or two but no more.

DC1 is more into it now, but because of Horrible Histories more than me.

Children need to learn their place in the world first, and history can help with that but not in such a contrived way.

She didn't enjoy it, she says she didn't enjoy it. That doesn't mean you need to spend the rest of her life at soft play - maybe just a couple of picnics in castle grounds when the weather's better. Blenheim Palace has a marvellous adventure playground.

mrz Mon 31-Dec-12 16:14:59

We are members of the National Trust and English Heritage and are friends of

although work means we don't volunteer as much as when the children were younger

OhDearNigel Mon 31-Dec-12 16:17:48

just shock

piggywigwig Mon 31-Dec-12 17:42:31

As an aside and yet still on the subject....DD1 has just come in from work and plonked herself on my laptop. She's read the discussion and said that the best part of re-enacting for her, was the food grin But then I always knew that lol! As re-enactors we were allowed to eat what was cooked and pre-prepared - yummy!
She also loved running around immersing herself in her role....if she chose a role, that is. She learned far more from re-enacting than she did in the classroom and I'm glad to say that she's aware of the mis-informed "stereotypes" and myths that some history books and teachers sadly still perpetuate.sad That's not intended to be "teacher-bashing"
She misses it and we'd all do it again in a heartbeat if real life allowed us the time sad

learnandsay Mon 31-Dec-12 17:53:43

Do tell, piggywig, do tell! Who did you dress up as and what did you eat? I wasn't really talking about getting to eat the food as so far at least we've only been members of the crowd. The nearest I've ever been to the eating part of things was when I was a child in Wales we used to live next door to John Seymour (the self sufficiency chap, anyone remember him?) As a young teenager I used to live in a wigwam on his farm during the holidays and eat free range eggs and ham from a side of pork which hung in the fireplace. It was a kind of free for all, you could just come and go and eat as you pleased. But it wasn't really a historical re-enactment, (a bit primitive, maybe.)

mrz Mon 31-Dec-12 18:05:43

As members of the crowd you can eat depending on the event organisers learnandsay

learnandsay Mon 31-Dec-12 18:18:58

We've only been to small things so far. The Vikings event was on a local heath. Years ago before the children came we cooked a Roman meal at home. It was lovely, very different from modern food (ok, so we had no garum,) but still it was different. We've planned to do a similar thing with another family but haven't gotten around to it yet. Much like the books people have posted, you don't have to go to some event to eat food from history.

piggywigwig Mon 31-Dec-12 18:19:16

As members of the crowd you can eat depending on the event organisers learnandsay

We weren't allowed to offer the public any food at all and we were always being asked if we could let them try. One of the reasons, was that the budget wasn't set for providing food for the public. We were also told that strict food hygiene laws (food preparation and storage) made it difficult to comply with the local council's rules/guidance. Insurance providers got very "edgy", especially with living histories in the middle of a field, liberally decorated with sheep poo and devoid of fridges lol grin.
I have no doubt that re-enactment groups do provide food for the public to taste...but I never saw it, even at English Heritage's multi-period spectacular at Kirby Hall. Those with access to modern kitchen facilities and adequate storage may have more leeway

learnandsay Mon 31-Dec-12 18:27:57

Years ago before we had the children we stopped the car at some kind of village festival. They had some sort of dress up mock battle going on, but it was not a full-scale re-enactment as such. There was archery for the public and a hog roast. I can't remember what facilities the hog was being roasted in, but if you joined the queue and paid you got hot pork in a bun. I'm guessing there are degrees of public facilities for food and other things and degrees of authenticity and difficulty concerning food handling and storage. But I don't think I'd consider joining a re-enactment just to get a historical meal. I really do think that would be counter productive. If my daughter wants to join in such things when she's older then of course we will.

mrz Mon 31-Dec-12 18:29:47

I've eaten at Kirby Hall as a member of the public but it was a few years ago and certainly at other events we've attended. We've been to Roman cookery /tasting arranged by my county council at the closest Roman site and Bede's World and Danelaw will provide food/feasts

piggywigwig Mon 31-Dec-12 18:30:57

gotta dash out but will get back more fully. Regarding the garum, one of my lecturers swore blind that worcestershire sauce was the closest modern equivalent in terms of ingredients and taste. I can't recall what UK site bore the evidence, but I seem to recall that someone had supposed garum residues analysed.

piggywigwig Mon 31-Dec-12 18:32:25


yes...Kirby Hall sadly ended a good few years ago. Did you eat at one of the Living History group's camps at the August multi-period Kirby?

learnandsay Mon 31-Dec-12 18:44:05

Laura Kelly makes her own version of guarum in her back yard

mrz Mon 31-Dec-12 18:50:11

Yes the only times I've been to Kirby Hall has been for the August events

UniS Mon 31-Dec-12 22:33:37

Isn't school history " lies to children" along the same lines as much school " science" is. Not strickly accurate but understandable and easy to remember.

Any primary child who claims to "understand " how electricity works , doesn't. Mind you nor do most adults.

learnandsay Mon 31-Dec-12 23:02:03

All text except logic and mathematics is a lie of some sort.

mrz Tue 01-Jan-13 10:19:03

Isn't all history "lies" in that it has a bias

Sabriel Tue 01-Jan-13 11:28:09

My dad loved history and dragged us round castles until we were bored to tears. We didn't just visit, he used to quiz us about it too. Did put me off history until I was almost 30. At that point I took a history degree and bored my kids rigid dragging them around hillforts grin

Having said that, they got a lot out of Sutton Hoo, West Stow Anglo Saxon village and Grimes Graves, and they were a similar age to your DD.

But we also went on trips to the seaside, to theme parks, to the countryside and to the shops and the cinema and the local swings. In other words, a bit of everything. History 24/7 will just put her off for life.

Wigeon Tue 01-Jan-13 17:33:26

I can't believe no one has mentioned the summer Tudor recreations at Kentwell Hall! They are absolutely fantastic. Around 200 (volunteer) participants re-enacting a Tudor manor, from the Lords and Ladies to the cooks and woodsmen. It really is like stepping back in town. The participants act as though you really have time-travelled (eg "I am stirring this pottage", not "they stired the pottage like this". It's quite magical.

I participated in one of the re-creations a few years ago (including making my own really quite realistic costume) and had a complete ball - spent a whole week as a Tudor, including eating Tudor food apart from the evenings when we all had pizza. It's my ambition to take DH and the DDs one year as participants although we live rather a long way from it at the moment.

BigSpork Tue 01-Jan-13 21:28:28

An upcoming event which may interesting - the University of Leicester's The past Beneath Your Feet, a family day of history and archaeology which says will include 5 reenactment groups and a loads of hands-on activities:

Houseworkprocrastinator Tue 01-Jan-13 21:50:02

If you are ever in south wales area...

I believe they do events at the medieval village on bank holidays in spring/summer

Houseworkprocrastinator Tue 01-Jan-13 21:51:01 and that one too smile

Meeknmild Thu 03-Jan-13 16:27:35

Umm ... perhaps you should be asking your dd what activities SHE would like to do?

GrimmaTheNome Thu 03-Jan-13 16:54:29

>perhaps you should be asking your dd what activities SHE would like to do?

A small child wouldn't have any idea of the wealth of different things available to kids nowadays - that's why I reckon you need to do a bit of lots of different things. Obviously you may want to do more of one particular type if it coincides with your own interests.

piggywigwig Thu 24-Jan-13 21:10:10

"I've eaten at Kirby Hall as a member of the public but it was a few years ago and certainly at other events we've attended."

Well, you have me please tell which living history camp you got to try food at the Kirby Hall "History in Action" smile

mrz Thu 24-Jan-13 21:28:07

From memory it was a medieval encampment (my father bought my daughter a dress and blue wool surcoat and a stool from the same group) but I can't recall the name of the group.

learnandsay Thu 31-Jan-13 14:03:42

Do children normally remember random historical facts? Last autumn our library had a pretty small and poor display of Henry VIII & wives portraits. They were tiny and I pointed them out to my daughter and told her which ones were which. We've just seen a Tudor house on TV and I told her those houses are from Henry VIII's time expecting her to have no idea who he was. He was the one with all the wives she told me. I was a bit stunned. The exhibition, for want of a better word, was rubbish.

Yes. This is very normal I think. DS does it too.
Bit baffled why you would bump this thread for a shameless stealth boast.

learnandsay Thu 31-Jan-13 14:10:59

Because the entire thread is about teaching children historical facts. Stealth boast! That's a mumsnettism isn't it? Are you quite sure it's not a nonsensical one?

Tiggles Thu 31-Jan-13 14:31:41

Mine does, but he has Aspergers and history is his special interest.
By the time he was 4 he could recognise way more historical people than I could.

I think my younger 2 do, as they have learnt it all from him.

Tiggles Thu 31-Jan-13 14:32:24

Or possibly too much Horrible Histories off the tv...

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now