A CASTLE with a rich history of archery will host a global contest this month.

Raby Castle at Staindrop, County Durham, will host the 14th Annual English Longbow World Wand Championships on Sunday June 23.

Archery has been a part of Raby’s history for centuries.

In 1346 Ralph Nevill, 2nd Baron Nevill of Raby led English troops to victory against Scottish Forces at the Battle of Neville’s Cross near Durham. The Battlefields Trust believes up to 10,000 English archers were involved.

Fred Bates of event organisers, the Archers of the Tees, said Raby, Darlington and the surrounding area was renowned during the 100 Years’ War for fletchery, or arrow making.

He said: “Over the years the World Wand Championship has drawn competitors from around the world, from China, Hong Kong, Spain, Germany and Australia to name just a few as well as England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Through events like this the Archers of the Tees promote the traditional skills of archery and ensure the sport continues.”

The wand, traditionally made of willow and around an inch thick, was used to train archers to shoot in a straight line.

Mr Bates said: “The wand we use is around four inches thick and we set it at 20, 30, 40 and 50 yards so that everyone can have a go, from children to adults. In days gone by children as young as seven were taught archery. They would have been expected to shoot battle distance of around 200 to 250 yards by the time they were 15.”

The youngest World Wand Champion was just 15 when he lifted the trophy at Raby. This year, archers of all ages will compete for the Wand Trophy made by archer and local jeweller Paul Sampson.

Mr Bates said: “Archery has been practised in England since 1066 for use in battles and the first competition was the Silver Arrow Competition which was started in 1673 by the first official society of the sport, the Society of Archers.

“Raby Castle is an incredible venue and it’s an unbelievable experience to practice archery here in such a beautiful, historic setting where the space and the facilities are so good.

“We are looking forward to this year’s event and hope visitors to the castle on that day will stop and watch as competitors hold their nerve and test their skills to compete for the title of World Wand Champion 2019.”