Last September, I arrived in England from Southern California to pursue a Master’s degree in Medieval History at the University of Birmingham, a choice which most of my family and friends viewed as slightly insane. Well before I actually arrived here (about two years ago) I began looking into volunteering opportunities with the Birmingham Museums Trust, as my ultimate goal is a career in the heritage sector. So when I got an email about a role in Conservation Club role, I immediately responded, and arranged to meet with Becky, the Volunteer Development Team Leader. In the course of our chat she brought to my attention the Castle Keepers group at Weoley Castle, and suggested that it might be an even better fit for me. As it turns out, it’s been a much better fit than I think either of us realized at the time!
As a member of the Castle Keepers, I get to touch Medieval history in a way that I would never have been able to back in California. Although Weoley Castle is a ruin, there is still so much fascinating information to be gained from the site. It came as a surprise to me, not being a particularly outdoors-y person, how immensely satisfying it is to simply remove the omnipresent moss from the stones of the castle and preserve the stones for years to come.
Aside from the fact that I’m gaining a considerable amount of personal enjoyment from my hours at Weoley Castle, my role there is giving me the opportunity to interact with visitors of all ages, prepare a talk about the lives of Medieval women, and participate in the Medieval Open Day that Weoley will be hosting this summer. I’m particularly excited about the Medieval Open Day (I have already planned my 13th century dress) because it’s the type of event that I think is one of the best possible ways to catch the interest of young people and allow them to engage with history so much more than they would from reading from a textbook.
Coming from a place that is in many ways much younger, I’m so thrilled to be surrounded by the physical presence of so much history. I’m excited to have the opportunity to interact with Britain’s heritage and hopefully, to share it with others!
If you are interested in volunteering for Birmingham Museums then take a look at the current volunteering opportunities we have available across all our sites.