The Sharp End: Episode 1
What was it like to be on the frontline of a historic battlefield?
Filmed at the Royal Armouries, Leeds, Dan Snow gets hands on with the weapons that helped define history, handled by ordinary soldiers on the frontline - from Anglo-Saxon swords to World War I machine guns.
In this first episode Dan gets to grips with swords and longbows, under the expert guidance of Andy Deane from the Royal Armouries. The tiltyard is transformed into a mediaeval training ground as Dan discovers how to wield a beautiful, but deadly, pattern welded sword - the sort of weapon used to battle the Vikings and carried by elite warriors on both sides at Hastings. He then has a crash course in shooting a longbow - the ranged weapon that required years of practice, and became part of British military legend at battles such as Crecy, Poitiers and Agincourt.
It may be impossible to experience what it was really like to fight close-quarters on a brutal ancient battlefield, but handling these weapons first-hand gives a remarkable insight into the challenges facing a soldier at the sharp-end of medieval warfare.
In the second episode, coming soon, the firearms experts of the Royal Armouries show Dan how gunpowder would change the soldier’s-eye view of battle forever.