The medieval period was one of great creativity and development. Many of the basic technologies which underpinned the renaissance and later the industrial revolution were first developed, while at the same time innovations from Roman times were rediscovered and refined. With this exhibition you can explore these technologies first-hand and get an insight into the roots of modern technology and the inventiveness of our ancestors.
Medieval Machines consists of fifteen stand-alone hands-on exhibits and includes graphic panels. Visitors will gain a better understanding of history by exploring medieval innovations and seeing how these would have affected peoples lives in the period and after, making its suitability extend to history-based museums and historic buildings.
• A gallery with about 100 sq metres of open floor space.
• Electrical power – four plug sockets.
• The exhibition must be supervised at all times when in use, preferably by staff accustomed to working in an interactive environment.
Trip hammer – Turn a wheel to rotate a drum with cams mounted on it. These push down the end of a beam then release it, raising and lowering a hammer which pounds on a small anvil.
Water wheel – Control the flow of water from a ‘Millpond’ onto an undershot waterwheel by means of a sluice gate.
Windmill – Move a fan to change wind direction and rotate a post mill to optimise its position in relation to the wind.
Siege engine – Build a castle wall out of wooden blocks, then attack it with a small siege engine firing ‘rocks’ to see if they can demolish it.
The knight – Children can sit on a rocking horse and try and hold a lance with and without using the stirrups while rocking. It is far harder to hold a lance without the stirrups to brace you than it is with them.
Stained glass – This is an illuminated jigsaw allowing users to construct a replica of a window in York Minster.
Arch – This is a tabletop model of an arch which can be built up from wooden blocks.
Flying buttress – This is a flexible arch which users can try and collapse by pushing down on the top. They can then put a flying buttress against it and see how much stronger this makes the arch.
Wooden bridge – Users have to try and bridge the river using logs which are in themselves too short to cross the gap.
The compass – A compass mounted on a model medieval ship is used to navigate it from London to Norway and to find the directions to Amsterdam and Hamburg.
The loom – Weave wool on this small loom in exactly the same way as medieval weavers.
Printing press – Make simple words with letters provided, place them in racks, ink them and then print them using a simple press.
Clock – Assemble the cogs and hands of a simple skeleton clock and set it going.
Tiling – A table with three squares on for creating medieval tiling patterns using triangular tiles.
Inventions and borrowings – This is a table with models or examples of some of the key inventions of the period not shown elsewhere. These are: spectacles, a silvered mirror, the hourglass, the wheelbarrow, chain mail and the cannon.