ENTHRALLING, entertaining and exciting.

Whether you have an interest in arms and armoury or not, Royal Armouries is a fascinating place to explore - to expand your knowledge and learn how weaponry played a part in our history.

Based in the waterside location of Leeds Dock, and just a short stride from Leeds city centre, the museum encapsulates five floors of detailed displays telling you everything you need to know about arms and armour throughout the world.

Leeds is one of three museum locations in the UK. Fort Nelson near Fareham, Hampshire, is a restored Victorian fort featuring 19 acres of fortifications and secret underground tunnels and White Tower, based in the iconic White Tower at the Tower of London, is home to the Royal arms and armour.

Dating back to the Middle Ages, the museum’s core collection originated in the nation’s working arsenal, which was assembled over many centuries at the Tower of London. Royal Armouries Leeds opened in 1996 and showcases a large part of the national collection of arms and armour from the Tower of London.

Welcoming around two million visitors a year, Royal Armouries is a place where history is literally brought to life through demonstrations and hands-on experience.

Stepping into the museum’s architectural centrepiece - the Hall of Steel - visitors can view the largest mass display of arms, among them mortars and cannon around the walls and base of the stairs and a display of 2,700 objects of mainly 17th century and 19th century military equipment.

Other highlights in the museum’s collection include the armours of King Henry VIII, an elephant armour and a ‘Vampire killing kit.’

Film fans can marvel at a number of weapons from popular culture such as Pulse Rifle from the Aliens films and a stunning collection incorporating five heroic swords based on the prop weapons used in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’ movies.

Highlights from the ‘Lord of the Rings’ sword collection include Orcrist ‘Goblin Cleaver:’ the sword of Thorin Oakenshield; ‘Sting’ the sword of Frodo Baggins; ‘Glamdring:’ the sword of Gandalf; Anduril the flame of the west: the sword of Aragorn and ‘Strider’s sword’: the sword of the Ranger Aragorn.

All the swords are limited edition artists’ proof copies by Weta’s Master Swordsmith, Peter Lyon, who made the original movie props.

And something to excite Star Wars fans is the anticipated showcasing in November of a pair of ‘blaster’ guns - an Imperial Stormtrooper ‘E-11’ and Rebel trooper ‘DH-17’ - from the ‘Star Wars’ series of films.

The ‘blasters’ have been modified by film armourers Bapty & Co from 1950s vintage Sterling submachine guns.

Royal Armouries experts believe both props were assembled for use in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ (1980), whilst it is likely that the base guns themselves were also used in ‘A New Hope’ (1977).

The ‘blasters’ have been acquired as part of the museum’s Collecting Cultures project, which looks at arms and armour through the lens of popular culture. The project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Peace: A Farewell to Arms is a collaboration with The Peace Museum in Bradford profiling the positive changes being made to replace conflict with peace.

Highlights include body armour from The Halo Trust designed to reduce the chance of injury from mines and ‘Chair’ a sculpture by Kester (Christavao Estevao Canhavato) from guns taken out of circulation at the end of the civil war in Mozambique.

Interestingly, surrendered guns were exchanged for useful items like bicycles and sewing machines.

The museum offers an active programme of daily talks, combat demonstrations and dramatic performances every day of the year (except December 24 – 26th when the museum is closed).

In the Tiltyard, the museum’s outdoor space, visitors can see a range of live displays of military and sporting skill-at-arms such as jousting, horse shows, archery and falconry.

Free entry and opening times are 10am until 5pm daily.

As well as the daily events programme, the museum also hosts larger events almost monthly - the highlight is the annual International Jousting Tournament, where international teams of jousters compete in the purpose built arena.

With fabulous displays showcasing intricately detailed suits of armour and static models of the animals profiled who played a part in the military might during combat - the horses and there’s even an elephant - the Royal Armouries offers something for everyone.

Well worth a visit, and the February half-term holiday will soon be here so make sure you schedule in a visit.

Visit royalarmouries.org/whats-on.