The mysteries of Halloween have brought out the creativity of the National Trust which is celebrating the end of October in very different ways.
Children are being invited to solve a mystery of missing beasts at Lacock, join a Halloween trail at Dyrham or explore a cat trail at Avebury during the half term fun.
The end of Autumn is also the ancient festival of ‘Samhain’, marking the end of harvest and the start of the dark months of winter.
Ancient legends say spirits can cross boundaries between worlds at this time and one, a large black cat looking for a saucer of milk, features in the spooky half-term trail at Avebury.
Another tradition was mummying where people would go from door to door, reciting verses in exchange for food.
The Samhain festival was the origin of our Hallowe’en festival today, and at Avebury this half term, this means lots of fun for all the children visiting.
Hazel Barry-Scott, Events Officer at Avebury, explains: ‘Our theme for this year is based around the ancient Pagan festival of Samhain, which ties in with Avebury’s past. The atmosphere is wonderful here at the moment and children are having great fun following our cat trail around the farmyard. Those that complete the trail get a spooky prize which they have to go ‘mummying’, or ‘trick-or-treating’ for. We also have mask-making and other craft activities as well as a Bronze Age storytelling walk.’
It’s the first time that the National Trust at Avebury has tried to reconnect Hallowe’en with its Pagan origins, something that Hazel feels passionately about.
‘One of the wonderful things about coming to Avebury, is its strong connection to the deepest past and link to our ancestors, and we’d like to make this connection apparent in as many of our events as we can.’
At Lacock, children are being invited to search for the bizarre beasts from the Bakehouse, inspired by the gargoyles and grotesques on the roof of the abbey. The beasts have escaped from their carved confines and are hiding around the abbey grounds. Families will need to solve the clues at the crime scene to follow the trail and bring the beasts back home.
The beasts have been made by Wiltshire Scrapstore, an award winning environmental and community charity based on the outskirts of Lacock. The Scrapstore collect resources that would otherwise go to landfill and redistributes them for a variety of creative activities and projects.
In Bath two seasonal family trails have been set up. In Prior Park giant spiders have invaded, the woolly monsters have created willow webs across the garden and children are being challenged to hunt them all down to help the gardeners deal with the invasion.
On the Bath Skyline walk’s Family Discovery Trail, a seasonal element has been added with some pumpkin faces etched onto timber for children to count while on the autumnal walk.
Nearby at Dyrham Park there are some ghostly goings-on this half-term week, with a spooky Hallowe’en trail. A trail map allows children to follow the clues and find the ghosts hiding in the park before claiming a prize.
On Sun 30 Oct, between 11am and 12 noon, the garden team will be helping visitors to decorate a scary pumpkin – simply turn up with your pumpkin and the team will help you with the rest.