Hands-on History

Siegecraft + Games Across the Ages . A Group B Elective.

Course Description

This course will be taught collaboratively by staff from the History Department with specialists from other departments

This course will bring History to life for students in new and specific ways. Across the year, it will put students in the centre of two distinct fields:


In this semester you will learn about the history of medieval siegecraft – the techniques and weapons used to attack castles. We will cover significant sieges, commanders and especially the weapons they used in the ancient and medieval periods.

Throughout the semester, student groups will also be tasked with designing, building and then operating their very own siege engines. This involves both practical and computer based engineering designing. Using what they have learned, student groups will make and fire a catapult, onager, ballista, mangonel or trebuchet as their end of semester assessment.

Games Across the Ages

In this semester you will discover how leisure and games have changed through the ages. From the Royal Game of Ur to Angry Birds, games have defined, challenged and reflected the human experience.

You will research different societies and the games they played, using primary and secondary sources to reconstruct the rules, equipment and features. After conducting our research, groups of students will facilitate the play of a chosen game by the rest of the class. Potential games include: Aztec Basketball, Roman Gambling with dice, Spartan workouts, Nine Men’s Morris, Medieval Mass Football, Lacrosse, early Cards, and Go.

Modes of Assessment

  • Presentations
  • Construction and operation of a Siege Weapon
  • Research
  • Participation, reflection and feedback

Links to the Broader Curriculum

  • Military and Social History
  • Collaborative Group Work
  • Design and creation
  • Technology