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The magazine of the art-form of the photo-essay “A free, really high quality photo-essay magazine.  Fabulous!” Stephen Fry. British actor, writer and film & documentary maker
September 2014 issue
Escape to the Past to Fight to the Death Ludlow Castle, Shropshire, England
by Damian Bird
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To say that I wasn’t expecting the spine tingling levels of violence in Medieval Battle, a full-contact sport, would be an understatement.  The only thing between the knights and certain death was their armour.  No wonder the process of putting on the multiple layers of protective clothing and sculpted metal body plating that I had observed prior to the fighting commenced had been done with solemnity and concentration. The knights fought in teams of three.  When one team lost a member to the wet grass (a fall to the floor, signified death) then three would turn on two and if only one remained from the depleted team, three would then bludgeon the last remaining team member in what can only be described as a an act of earth shattering ferocity.  As the final blows were struck, axes, swords and clubs rained down, invisible through speed on the remaining brave knight until he fell to the ground, his ears ringing, for a well-deserved rest in the mud of defeat. Behind the scenes, it became clear that I had entered another world, one of medieval dress and flagons of beer, that simply became the natural precursor to a realm in which death truly could come in the form of an axe to the head.  The knights’ lovers kissed them passionately and their bodies entwined with a lack of inhibition that I have observed before in modern day war zones. I left the battlefield having seen blood dripping from facial injuries and compound fractured fingers along with quivering limbs that accompanied the pained expressions on the faces of men who had sustained wounds they might well feel in the form of aching arthritis in old age. I had seen the brave become their sport and live out ambitions of violence.  They had become knights and the back- drop of Ludlow Castle in the rain was no more real than their alter-egos.
A draw.
Pre-fight meditation.
Basic instinct.
The Knights’ fair maidens.
Metal blade to the face.
A Knight’s daughter.
Back-swipe sword.
Lovers embrace, pre-battle.
Whiplash.
Past times.
Blinded by steal and rage.
Pre-fight nerves.
Drenching rain, fists of fury.
Another World, another time.
The fight is real.
Helmet becomes life support.
Axe to the backbone.
Your enemies will fear you.
They found the chink in my armour.