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Chirk Castle's medieval guards appeal
A volunteer poses as a medieval soldier
Volunteers will wear 14th Century costume as part of their role

It may be 700 years since the last major recruitment drive but custodians of a castle near Wrexham are looking for medieval soldiers.

Chirk Castle keepers have appealed for more volunteers to swell the ranks of guards who dress up to greet visitors.

Joanne Jones, a visitors' manager, said: "We're looking for enthusiastic people who have a love of history."

One volunteer, Huw Sayer, said: "It was an exercise in empathy - you really do become a person from the 14th Century."

Guards' duties will include greeting visitors and holding interactive sessions such as pike drills.

The guards will also challenge visitors to declare their allegiance to Llywelyn of Wales or to Edwards Longshanks.

"If they give the wrong answer they could be put in the stocks," said Ms Jones. "Or they could be recruited to the castle garrison."

Chirk Castle, which is now managed by the National Trust, was built between 1295 and 1310 and the volunteers would represent the early part of its history and be dressed in 14th Century costume.

"Volunteers wear something called a 'cote'," said Ms Jones. "It looks like a dress or tunic. They also wear separate hose, like trouser legs attached to a belt."

I formed a really healthy respect for our ancestors - they must have been incredibly fit individuals
Volunteer Huw Sayer

Mr Sayer acted as a medieval guard at the castle in 2010: "It seemed like it would be fun and it was - solid fun for eight months," he said.

"I'm interested in history and it was great to meet people from all over the globe."

Mr Sayer found that his knowledge of history was added to and consolidated by the experience of volunteering.

"I was using a weapon called a 'glaive'," he said. "I'd seen many illustrations and seen examples in museums but I'd never held one before.

"It was an exercise in empathy - you really do become a person from the 14th Century."

Wearing heavy medieval costume gave Mr Sayer an insight into what life was like for people at the time:

"I formed a really healthy respect for our ancestors," he said. "They must have been incredibly fit individuals."

An open afternoon for potential volunteers will be held at Chirk Castle on 14 January (1400-1600 GMT).

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