IN TIMES of yore, when men were men, they'd dress in suits of metal, climb on horses and charge at each other with enormous toothpicks... while their women cheered them on.

Want to turn back the clock to the days of purported chivalry? There's no need to go to all the trouble of inventing a time machine.

Simply get in the car and drive over to Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire this weekend for the UK's most spectacular medieval festival. Joust, billed as "a weekend of medieval mayhem," runs from 10am to 6pm tomorrow and Sunday.

An attempt to recreate the success of US medieval and Renaissance fairs on home soil, it includes jousting, falconry, archery, wandering minstrels, jesters, arts and craft traders and mediaeval dance troupes.

There's also music from the internationally acclaimed singing group the Mediaevil Baebes, a children's area featuring pelt-the-peasant, the unrideable horse, a bouncy castle and pony rides - and rather than just the ubiquitous face-painting, kids can get a wound painted on themselves instead.

The medieval island houses the living history village whose inhabitants can tell you all about life, crafts and skills of centuries ago.

There's a medieval kitchen, where top local chef Robert Rees will be cooking the way our ancestors did, and handing out special Joust recipe cards so you can take the tastes of history home with you.

Tickets for the festival also include entry to 850-year-old Berkeley Castle, believed to have inspired Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, and the focus of the day's real climax, when hundreds of armoured knights will attack and defend the castle in a spectacular siege re-enactment.

Tickets range from £4 to £12 and can be bought on the gate or in advance from 0207 482 0115. For more information visit