Circa 1200 Living History

 A glimpse of Life in Medieval Europe for students and families.

She is called Hedwiga, wife of Gawain. She has no last name, but is sometimes called “The German” which she does not like.

She greets you at the door to her home; a two room cottage made of wattle and daub which she shares with her husband and their livestock. Smoke curls up from the hearth and out a hole in the roof . This scene was played out 800 years ago, as well as today.

YOU are invited to visit, your invitation, is your IMAGINATIION.


King John is on the throne and there is peace in Yorkshire . . .




          Lord Muckley holds Westburgh from Count Finn held it from the King, 50 acres woodlands for pannage on the southern slope of Pennhill, 15 c. meadows bordering the River Ure. A Saxon Church built in 920 (abandoned). 1 c. and 3 d. 1  freeman, Gavinus Albus, one virgate with toft and croft, a plough, a mill at 10s. . . ,

The terse entry above from the The Domesday Book , circa 1200, is the only written document that mentions Hedwiga and her husband Gawain.

The history of medieval Europe takes on the immediacy of today’s news when witnessed by students who can freely interact with persons from the past, wear their clothing, and touch the objects used in everyday life. Kathryn Westburg, a multimedia communications professional who specializes in educational materials, has taken her love of history and created a program that can be customized to fit the needs of your classroom or community group. As Hedwiga (Hed-vigah), Kathryn tells you about the realities of life for everyday folk, not the kings and nobles who fill the pages of history books. What you learn may surprise you.


   “Squire Robert, the eldest son of the lord of the castle was on vigil. Robert stayed up all last night preparing for the ceremony whereby the Squire would become a Knight. It was a very great honor, and something that Thom would never experience. But tonight he and his father would go to the castle for a feast. All the heads of household would be there and their sons who were at least 14 years of age. Not women, of course, only the men.

When Thom and his father finally arrived at the castle, he could hardly believe his eyes. He was surrounded by men and women in fine clothing, there were musicians playing and large platters of food placed on the tables. Thom held his trencher, a thick crust of stale bread used as a plate, while his father ladled stew from a common bowl. Thom dipped his horn spoon in the hot spicy mixture . . .”


This story was read by a 6th grader a long time ago. Although the reader was not contemporary with the characters who illustrated events taking place 800 years ago, it felt that way. It was an event that greatly influenced my attitude towards learning.  I can still vividly recall the illustrations that accompanied the text. As I look back, I identify that moment as the beginning of my love of history and pursuit of life long learning. For me, the thrill was in feeling as if I had lived the experiences of history. It helped me remember facts, because I associated them with experiences of real people. This is how the journey that resulted in Circa 1200 began.

Circa 1200 brings the magic of experiential learning of history to your classroom.  Much more practical than a trip to Great Britain or France, and more possible than time travel, Circa 1200 provides your students with a memorable life experience upon which they can associate the critical facts of their lessons.  This living history presentation is the result of a combination of research and experiences. Visits to excellent museums with historical interpreters, such as Plimouth Plantation and Connor Prairie, visits to significant historic sites throughout Western Europe, and reading a treasury of books on medieval history and theories of living history interpretation have precede this project’s development. 

Your students will visit Hedwiga, a mature woman of common birth who represents the emerging middle class in Western Europe. A peasant, but not a serf, she invites you into her world of rural Yorkshire, England in about the year 1200 C. E. You can touch objects that were common in her time but quite odd to us, feel the texture of her family’s garments, and see some of her most prized possessions. You may learn about hopes, fears, and beliefs of everyday folk, based upon period chronicles and essays. And you might come to understand that the people of the middle ages were very much like people in the modern age, but living in very different world from ours. 

Content of the presentation is customized to highlight your lesson plan and to the age and interests of your students.  

 Hedwiga teaches children to to make mustard




HISTORY presented LIVE in your classroom.
Individual classroom presentation 

Includes historical interpretation, demonstration of a period craft, hands-on experience with historical reproductions, customization of content to meet educational goals, and instructors’ background materials and bibliography. 

Suitable for up to 20 students.50 minutes


Meet me at the FAIRE. 

Includes historical interpretation, demonstration of a period craft, display of historical reproductions that can be touched, and instructors’ background materials and bibliography. This presentation is designed for an informal “fair booth “type of experience. Students stop by for a brief show-and-tell and move on to other related activities. 

This is a half-day, either morning or afternoon program.

Full Day—Multiple Presentations

Includes historical interpretation, demonstration of a period craft, hands-on experience with historical reproductions, customization of content to meet educational goals, and instructors’ background materials and bibliography. 

Up to three presentations in one day. Hands-on experiences based on number of students in each group.


Travel distance to presentations of more than 40 miles will add a mileage surcharge of $0.48 per mile.



To schedule a Circa 1200 Living History Presentation or if you have any questions please contact me,

Kathryn Westburg 

1860 Eastman Lane 

Hanover Park, Illinois 60133 

Phone: 630-855-0617 

Fax: 630-855-0617 .