ACCORDING to legend (or according to one of the legends) the Olympic Games were founded by Hercules. The first Games that we know about happened in 776 BC and they took place after that every four years for a period of nearly 1200 years until they were put a stop to by the Christian emperor Theodosius in 393 AD.

This was just some of the fascinating information imparted by Ray Aspden during his talk to the Vale of Evesham Historical Society on the evening of April 28. It was appropriate, in this Olympic year, that members and guests were reminded of the origins of the Games, with the aid of pictures, prose and poetry from Greek and Roman sources.

What started out as a religious festival developed into a massive sporting occasion in which, at various times, there were 23 events ranging from a 200 yard dash to the Pankration – a no-holds barred wrestling contest, and the formula one race of its day, the chariot race. Winners were rewarded with an olive wreath, but received more substantial rewards from their home cities in which they were treated as superstars.

Ray spoke to a very enthusiastic audience and questions were followed by further discussion over refreshments.

The Society’s next talk will be on the evening of Thursday, May 26 at 7.30pm. The speaker is Keith Cattell, whose talk is entitled “On a Wing and a Prayer – the Cathedral Builders”.

For more information on talks and society activities, visit the Society’s website: or contact the Secretary.