Solving a medieval murder

23rd September 2005 at 01:00
The king's tax collector lies in a pool of blood. Arthur the peasant has been accused of murder. Who could have committed the deed? The haughty lord? The dotty apothecary? The shifty inn-keeper?

Pupils at The Ramsgate School, Kent, were enlisted one day last term to solve this medieval murder mystery. They watched a play, interviewed suspects in the village, deliberated over alibis and came to a verdict, setting Arthur free and leaving the real culprit - the dastardly Lord Deville - in shackles.

All the parts were acted by student teachers on our PGCE secondary history course, run by Kerry Jordan-Daus and Megan Elliotte. Students scripted the play, made sets, inhabited the role of suspects or worked alongside teaching assistants to help pupils formulate the questions they needed to ask. Red herrings, false leads and complex motives abounded.

Pupils had carefully to sift evidence laid before them. They also had to absorb ideas about the medieval village as they went on their way, curtsying to the lady's maid or greeting the blacksmith in Old English.

Many of us felt trepidation about donning tights and capes before a potentially difficult Year 7 audience but, primed by their history teachers, including head of humanities Gareth Price, the pupils proved to be receptive and shrewd detectives. Energy and enthusiasm remained buoyant during the two-hour activity. The pupils displayed good critical thinking and got their man.

Benjamin Crozier and John Gardiner Students on the 2004-5 PGCE secondary history course at Canterbury Christ Church University College

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today