When Hylton Castle went to Durham!

In October some of the Hylton Castle research team went to Durham for a team/research outing. What an adventure it was! The day started with everyone meeting outside the Durham Palace Green Library, looking up at the all too iconic Cathedral on the left and Castle on the right. We went into the Library and made our way into the Bodies of Evidence Exhibit, about the Scottish soldiers they found in the mass grave at the edge of the Castle grounds. Why it was important for us, the research group, to go to this exhibit was because we needed to see how information can be displayed, so that when Hylton Castle does exhibits based on our research we can think back to how other exhibits made us feel and try to create our own!

Next on our trip was meeting with the Head of Culture and Tours in the Castle. What an experience that was. She gave us information on the surrounding buildings of the Palace Green Library, on Heraldry seen on some of the buildings and, obviously, on the Castle! She gave us information on how she trains her tour guides and how they keep their tours fresh with all the history - to prevent the tours from becoming stale. As a research group this is important to know because we need to understand how to keep the information correct but interesting! She showed us the care packs she created for her guides that were made up of business cards that they could give out if they could not answer a question, nurse watches on the bag so the tour guides can watch the time but not use their phones and flash lights for darker areas or if the electricity went out. It was a great experience talking to someone who works in that environment every day to give us a bit of advice and a lot of laughs!

We then had a bit of down time, where we went for lunch as a team. The Courtyard Cafe in the Palace Green Library has the most delicious sandwiches and I was told their coffee was to die for. It was great to have a bit of time to have a chat about what we all thought of the exhibit and what we had learnt about the Castle. We were all really excited and trailed off onto ideas we were getting for the pieces we were working on, “Maybe we should have a projector”: “We should have interactive areas”. It was great because it was getting our creative sides going and that is exactly what we needed but also it was forging a bond within the group. We all were eventually having a good old laugh and before we knew it, our hour was up and we were off to the next event!

Our last stop for the day was the Barker Research Library, which is inside the Palace Green Library. This was, honestly, the best part of the day. We were welcomed in and talked through all the necessary rules of signing in and how to deal with the literature appropriately. It was like what you imagine using books from Hogwarts would be like! Some of the books were hundreds of years old and had extra binding around them to hold them together because their spines were not able to hold them together so well. These hundreds of years old books were laid out on special pillows on the table for us, it was remarkable. What was even better was that once we all started reading most of us had revelations or information proved by what was hand written in these books. Someone from years before had given us the words we needed to write for the Castle we’re bringing back to life and that is something indescribable! We only had an hour in there and before we knew it that hour had blown by us like a hurricane. We were all sad to go but will definitely be back!

And that was it for the day! I think we were all a little sad the day was over, it had been a great day, filled with adventures of the past with great people and we had loads to take back to our own Castle!

Written by Hylton Castle Project volunteer Jessica Ballard

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