West Stow: Is the Lord of the Rings Orc at West Stow Anglo-Saxon village ‘too scary’?

Lance Alexander is dressed as an Orc for the upcoming Lord of the Rings event at West Stow Anglo Saxon Village. He is showing his friendly side after fears he would scare children. Lance Alexander is dressed as an Orc for the upcoming Lord of the Rings event at West Stow Anglo Saxon Village. He is showing his friendly side after fears he would scare children.

Friday, February 7, 2014
2:42 PM

Organisers of a popular event at a west Suffolk tourist attraction are keen to reassure people their resident Orc - a creature from Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings books - is “nice”.

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The Orc - known as Guttrot the Unclean - has been part of the popular Ring Quest event at West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village and Country Park for about six years, but last year a worried mum posted on the attraction’s Facebook page to say he looked too scary.

While organisers have taken on board the comment, they say Guttrot is not as frightening as he may seem - and he is set to stay.

Lance Alexander, who transforms into the Orc using a latex mask and costume, said: “We were most concerned when someone spotted a picture of him on the internet and said he looked too scary!

“He might look a little frightening at first sight, but the fact that our Mordor Orc is a friendly chap breaks that illusion because he really is nice when you meet him, we promise!”

Mr Alexander, who is a fan of JRR Tolkein’s books, said there was no age limit for Ring Quest, which starts on Saturday, February 15, and runs over half-term until Sunday, February 23.

The annual fan event, which is in its 11th year, sees families explore the Anglo-Saxon village and country park to solve riddles, collect clues and ultimately save Middle Earth, as well as win a prize.

Other attractions include a Hobbit hole - based on the character Farmer Cotton’s home in the Lord of the Rings - and the chance to meet a Ranger of the North, who is Tolkienologist Alan Baxter in costume.

Mr Alexander, St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s Tourist Information Centre (TIC) and heritage operations manager, said: “The thing for us is this is a family-orientated event and that’s what we have pushed for years.

“It’s not about me in the costume, but about the families having fun. We are there to add a bit of spice - how often do you see an Orc or a ranger out in the wild? We are a leisure service and that’s another reason we are not here to scare anyone.”

Mr Alexander said they came to have the Orc costume as the Lord of the Rings prequel, Born of Hope, was filmed at the Anglo-Saxon village in 2006.

Mr Baxter said: “JRR Tolkien’s work is heavily influenced by his love of Anglo-Saxon language and mythology. For example, the poem Beowulf is often cited as an influence and much of the language, rune writings and ideas all having links to the early pagan period.”

Organisers say this year’s Ring Quest at West Stow could attract record numbers following the worldwide success of both the second Hobbit movie, The Desolation of Smaug, and the continuing internet popularity of Born of Hope.

Guttrot and the ranger will be in attendance over the weekends.

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