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Let battle commence
Knight
Last updated: 24 August 2004 1420 BST
lineThe first day of Joust, the country's biggest medieval festival, saw the crowds turn out in force to enjoy a banquet of swordplay and chivalry at Berkeley Castle.
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Cannon fire fills the air as the sword-wielding warriors surge forward on foot and on horesback, archers let fly with volleys of arrows and the dead and wounded litter the ground...

More frantic than Ikea on a Saturday afternoon, this was the scene on the first day of Joust at Berkeley Castle, the country's biggest medieval festival.

Check out our exclusive photo galleries (20 pictures each):

Gallery 1

Photo Gallery

Gallery 2

Photo Gallery

Gallery 3

Photo Gallery

Gallery 4

Photo Gallery

Epic

The crowds enjoyed an epic re-enactment of the seige of Berkeley Castle, period ballads from the Medieval Babes and, of course, jousting.

The jousting tournament saw the chivalrous Knights of the Blue Pavillion (hurrah) pitted against the dastardly Knights of the Black Pavillion (boo, hiss) led by the evil Black Knight.

The fully armoured contestants battled to land blows on each other's breastplates, thus scoring maximum points.

The first stage of the tournament saw the Black Pavillion victorious over the gallant Blues, who vowed retribution later in the day.

Costume

Many visitors opted to hire medieval costumes, with others decided to get into the historical spirit of the occasion by consuming flagons of mead, an ancient alocoholic drink brewed with honey.

Roger from Somerset said that he attends every Joust event.

"It's a great opportunity to get dressed up," he continued, "and the kids love the lepers and having wounds painted on."

quote...the kids love the lepers and having wounds painted on
quote
Roger, Somerset

The Medival Babes provided a calming respite from the bloodshed with a set of historic ballads recounting tales of love, death and randy monks.

Dressed in matching lilac, their act combined period dancing with lyrics delivered in a variety of languages.

Success

Elsewhere on site, visitors were able to practise archery and learn sword fighting techniques (useful for dealing with those tricky car parking disputes).

"It's been a great day," said Ed from Sussex, who had opted for a peasant costume. "The seige re-enactment was very convincing. The Samurai display was very interesting too."

Joust continues over the weekend of Saturday July 31 - Sunday August 1.

What did you think?

Philip Williams, from Lincoln, emailed us to say: "What a wonderful Sunday we had, the festival was brilliant, lots to see and do for all ages.

"The younger ones in our party (13yrs and 7yrs) were spellbound.

"The educational content was first class, and, it was done in such a way that the knowledge gained will stick.

"We were very glad we travelled and we can't wait for "Joust 2005".

"Congratulations to the organisers and a BIG BIG thank you to all those who participated. To sum it up in one easy phrase..."It was great FUN"

Did you got to Joust? Email us with your comments.

STOP PRESS - Joust festival dates have been confirmed for 2005. They are the weekends of 23 - 24 July and 30 - 31 July.

   
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