Having fun in and around a castle

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There were no televisions or mobile phones during medieval times. People had other ways of having fun like hosting grand feasts or watching jousting tournaments.

In this article you can find out:

  • What a castle feast was like
  • How royalty and nobles spent their free time
  • Popular sports during medieval times

This resource is suitable for Castles topics for P2, P3, P4, P5, P6 and P7 (First and Second Level Curriculum for Excellence).

Feasts and festivals

  • During times, feasts were an important part of castle life.
  • Feasts took place in the great hall and were made up of lots of meals using expensive meats and luxurious spices.
  • There would be amazing performances from singers, musicians, jesters and jugglers, who were invited to entertain the guests.

Feast of Fools

  • In Scotland, an Abbot of Unreason (also known as the 'Lord of Misrule') was given the job of organising a festival during medieval times called the Feast of Fools.
  • During this festival, performers wore animal masks.
  • They sang rude songs and ran around causing mischief.
This illustration shows an Abbot of Unreason or Lord of Misrule during the Feast of Fools. (Chronicle / Alamy Stock Photo)

Hunting and hawking

  • Hunting and hawking were two of the most popular hobbies during medieval times.
  • Royalty and had land around their castles and houses for hunting.
  • They often hunted deer, wild boar, wolves, hare and rabbits.
  • They would hunt with spears, longbows and crossbows and the help of hunting dogs.
  • Hawking (also known as 'falconry') was when people used hawks, falcons and other birds of prey to catch smaller animals, like squirrels and rabbits.
  • Nowadays, there are strict rules and laws about hunting and shooting. These have been made to help protect wildlife. These laws tell people what they can hunt or shoot, when and how they can do it and what equipment they can use.
This illustration shows noblemen and women "hawking" during a medieval hunt. (Classic Image / Alamy Stock Photo)

Sports

Jousting

  • Jousting was a popular sport during times.
  • This was when two knights on horseback would charge at each another using a and try to knock each other off their horse.
  • It wasn't a real fight but it could still be dangerous.
  • The knights had to wear helmets and heavy armour to protect themselves.
Nowadays, actors take part in pretend jousting tournaments. This photo shows knights jousting at a medieval re-enactment at Castle Fraser in Aberdeenshire. (AC Images / Alamy Stock Photo)

Other popular sports in medieval Scotland were:

  • archery
  • bowling
  • wrestling
Illustration of archery practice with the bow and target

Archery

Archery is a sport using a bow to shoot arrows at a target. It was a way of hunting and a popular activity in medieval times. People still practise archery today. (Tony Lilley / Alamy Stock Photo)

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Test your knowledge

Practise your bowling skills

Bowling was a popular medieval sport. Practise your bowling skills with this simple activity.

  1. Set up a target a few metres away from you in a clear, safe space. For example, you could use a cone or a hat as your target.
  2. Roll a ball along the ground aiming for your target.

You can try:

  • Measuring how close your ball is to the target.
  • Keep a record of how close you get. Can you beat your own high score?
  • Move your target further away to make it trickier.