Random Thoughts: Change, Primary Sources & Other Stuff

Primary sources all around us: Medieval armor in a Mississippi River town

Posted on: August 19, 2013

castlerockPrimary sources all around us– often in the least expected places.  This was definitely the case when we toured Castlerock Museum in Alma, Wisconsin, a small Mississippi River town just a few miles from our home.  Castlerock is a new museum, built on a hillside and designed to  look like small castle.   What’s inside is unexpected.   Castlerock houses exhibits authentic arms and armor from the, Medieval and Renaissance eras.  Full suits of armor and individual helmets, swords, daggers, shields, chain mail and gauntlets are presented.  There is even a sword from the First Crusade. I was surprised to learn that the very a long swords weigh just a few pounds.  The largest single item is a life size replica of a horse dressed in a Victorian era reproduction of a horse’s armor.

A bone-chilling display features torture and execution devices. The display description explained that hanging was reserved for the lower class while beheading with a sword was reserved for nobility and upper class. The display brought to mind the moving sentence of death by hanging for Bardolph.  Shakespeare’s King Henry V performed at the Great River Shakespeare Festival this summer. Artifacts from the Romans, Greeks and Vikings, Vikings, and housewares are also housed in this specialized museum. Reproductions of period art and manuscripts enhance the displays.

The collection is a personal collection of Gary Schlosstein, an Alma resident who began collecting as a young boy.  He brought the world of medieval armor and the Battle of Agincourt to life at a Shakespeare festival presentation this summer.  The Castlerock visit added considerably to my theatre experience.  Castlerock is worth a visit and small enough so that you do not feel overwhelmed!   What a fun place to visit on a lovely summer day!  An added bonus is  the wonderful view of the Mississippi River and the bluffs of southeastern Minnesota.

The growing World Digital Library has several primary sources related to this interesting historical era.
Where can I find primary sources for my World History Classes?
How can I use primary resources in the media center and classroom to support student learning?
Teaching Digital Media Literacy in the Content Areas: Using Primary Sources 


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