I will try to explain who we are and what we are doing. We are part of the Current Middle Ages, a loosely-knit group of people trying to recreate Mediaeval culture and ceremonies. Several thousand people around the world are members of the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc.
What’s an Anachronism.
An anachronism is a tradition which has outlived it’s original purpose, but which survived just because it’s a lot of fun. That’s probably the best description of our group, since you can make anything you want from it. For some it’s a means of serious research into Mediaeval culture, by trying to re-learn the skills, knowledge and life-style of our ancestors. For others it’s a hobby, a way of relaxing after a normal (“mundane”) day, and an excuse to pursue interests an crafts they never found time for before. For many of us, it’s the most interesting, continuous costume party we’ve ever been to. A few members joined with an interest in history, drama, folklore, but most of us found them dull as traditionally studied.
Who’s that guy with the crown?
He’s the King. Like most Mediaeval Kings, he holds his authority for Right of Arms. Within the SCA the world is divided into kingdoms, and every few months the fighters in each area hold a Tournament to choose the next King. The winner of the Tourney, after a properly regal coronation, reigns over his subjects until a new King is chosen. Each Kingdom is comprised of local groups, which are known as Shires, Cantons, Colleges, Baronies and Principalities, depending on their size.
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Definitely. Fighting is the noisiest and, for those coming to their first event, the most noticeable activitiy in the Society. However many, if not most, of our members have never lifted a sword, and are interested in the many other aspects of Mediaeval life. Each local SCA group has a Mistress or Master of the Arts and Sciences, and they are responsible for encouraging and advising people who are interested in historic arts and advising people who are interested in historic arts and technology. Mediaeval arts would include weaving, stained glass, costuming, calligraphy, illumination, music, dance, story-telling, writing, and cooking. Ancient sciences are brewing, herbalogy, printing, armour-making, and contructing a wide variety of early machines, everything from looms to siege engines.
If you would like to study any of these subjects, talk with your Arts and Science officer. We try and arrange classes in whatever skills people show interest in, and newcomers are encouraged to attend these smaller, more informal gatherings. If a number of people show interest in skill in one area, the Arts and Sciences officers may form a Guild or just have regular meetings of sharing and encouragement.
More information on your local groups meetings and activities can be found at
How should I act?
With courtesy and politeness, of course, are you are now a member of the Aristocracy of the Current Middle Ages. In time you will learn the formal titles some people have, but in the meantime just call everyone “My Lord” or “My Lady”, as fellow members of the nobility. And you can relax and be yourself, as we are not acting out roles that don’t’ fit us, but merely becoming the kind of person we might be, in a Mediaeval culture. Stroll across the Tourney grounds or the Revel and join us in the Current Middle Ages.
First of all, what is a Persona?
A Persona is the Mediaeval name, character, and role you want to play in the SCA.
Second, why do you need one? Well, shen you first join, it keeps you from being a tourist, standing to one side, watching the wierdos in strange costumes. With a persona, you are one of us wierdos in a strange costume. Then it encourages you to study a particular culture, so you know how to dress, how to act, and what your background is.
These can also be more personal reasons. Perhaps you enjoy pretending to be the kind of person you’ve always admired. If you spend a weekend as the persona you want to have, you may find yourself on a Monday morning, considering your mundane name to be an alias.
There’s also another reason for choosing you own name and character. If you don’t, someone else will, and may be stick you with something more accurate than you’d prefer. How would you like to be known as “the Gross” or “ the Crocked”? But you can pick any name and role you like, with only two restrictions. It has to be pre-1600, of course, and can’t dulicate any previously used historical or Society name. We are now acting you the line from Macbeth or pretending to be Merlin the Magician. To experience Mediaeval socity, we create appropriate character and personalitites for ourselves, and then react spontaneously within the atmosphere.
Now that I’ve convinced you to choose a persona, how do you find one? First, you should decide the culture and era you’d like to be a part of. If you’ve always been interested in a certain culture, say the Italian Renaissance or Gaelic, but never had much time to study it, you might use this as a good opportunity. If you’ve already studies one nation’s history or language you’ll probably put yourself in that culture. If your famild actually emigrated from a particular province, you might want to emphasize your real heritage. Or perhaps you’ve always felt that you’d have made a good Teutonic warrior, a loyal follower of King Arthur, or a fanatic Crusader.
Once your’ve chosen the country, the ear isn’t hard. Most people enter the century when their local kings ruled half of Europe, rather than after they were defeated and their people were being pillaged, plundered and raped by everyone else. We can also assume that you’re part of the local nobility, unless you’re particularly proud of you merchant of freeholder background. Then you might be the illegitimate child of the local Baron and some peasant girl. That’s quite historical, and gives you the strength of character of one, and the social privileges of the other. If you have Mediaeval talents, you may choose a profession, such as minstrel, court jester, wizard, alchemist, etc. You are limited in the titles you claim, as Baron, Duke, Prince and Knighthood must be earned in the historic fashion, and granted by the King. But you can be the chief of your own clan, or household and use titles like overlord, tarkhan within that group.
The livery collar, which has never passed out of use, takes many forms, its Esses being sometimes linked together chainwise, and sometimes, in early examples, as the ornamental bosses of a garter-shaped strap-collar. The oldest survival bearing it is that in Spratton church of Sir John Swynford who died in 1371. Many explanations are given of the origin of these letters, but none has as yet been established. During the reigns of Henry IV, his son and grandson the collar of Esses was a royal badge of the Lancastrian house and party.
The kings of the house of York and their chief followers wore the Yorkist collar of suns and roses.
Collars of various devices are worn by the knights of some of the European orders of Knighthood, The custom was begun by Phillip III, Duke of Burgundy, who gave his knights badges of a golden fleece hung from a collar of flints, steels and sparks. Louis XI of France in 1469, gave the knights collars of scallop shells linked on a chain for the Order of St. Michael
Frankish and Germanic belt buckles and plates
The Franks and Germans often would have buckles with both a buckle and a plate that would fasten the belt on the center of the waist. This type of belt does not allow for much adjustment in size and would need to be adjusted every time you gained or lost weight.
Medieval people's weight probably did not increase and decrease as much as our modern weight tends to change. The diet during the middle ages was not as robust as our modern diet and probably did not allow for as much change in weight as we experience.
So how can you wear this type of belt? You can create an adjustment at the back of the belt to allow you to tie the belt at the back to lengthen or shorten the belt. The belt just needs several holes to allow this to happen. This same technique can be used on the belt plate end of the belt. Most of our belt plates have split rivets so it can be fairly easy to move the belt plate as needed!
These belts usually had short tongues hanging through the buckle bales.
There are also female graves with these belts being worn, most notably the Grave of Queen Arnequnde in St-Denis, France dating from 580 CE. Aregund, Aregunda, Arnegund, Aregonda, or Arnegonda (c. 515/520–580) was a Frankish queen, the wife of Clotaire I, King of the Franks, and the mother of Chiperic I and in the grave wore the belt set probably on a baldric.
The Viking treasure necklace (or plunder necklace is a beautiful work of art. It looks at first glance like a bit of a mess, because it goes against our modern ideas as to what a necklace is supposed to look like. Namely, these necklaces are not perfectly symmetrical.
A great resource for information on the plunder necklaces is the Viking Answer Lady webpage, which is where I have gotten a good deal of my information. The Vikings were so enamored with beads that they are (along with pottery, nails and knives) the single most common items found in pre-Christian Viking graves. Due to the labor intensive process that went along with making the beads, they were expensive, and frequently handed down to younger relatives, gathered from raids, and purchased in market towns such as Haithabu (Hedeby).
The beads range from colored glass to jet, amber, amethyst, garnet, silver, gold and bronze. The pendants that they used could vary from unusual to large beads or charms or coins from foreign lands.
Now, for the fun part: Making the necklaces! There are certain rules for their construction, listed below:
1. All large or unusual beads are used as 'dividers and are placed evenly spaced around a circle.
a. If you want more pendants, you can use wire and small beads to make more by placing them on a wire, creating a loop and then twisting the ends into a "stalk', and wrapping that 'stalk' to form a loop for the necklace string to go through.
2. Next, start picking pairs of beads of similar size, shape and tone (Dark, light ornate bead, etc.) and placing them across each other on your necklace
3. Continue placing beads until all the spaces are filled.
a. Sometimes a shorter pattern can be placed around a pendant to emphasize it.
4. Once your spaces are filled, pick a point and start stringing your beads and charms.
a. I recommend metal wire, as it will hold up better than thread or string.
And there you have it! Your own treasure necklace, period appropriate and uniquely you!
Written by Asfridr Riksdottir
I have often been asked "how many mounts do I need for my belt?"
There is no correct answer to that question. You find belts without any mounts, and then you will find belts almost totally covered with mounts!
One Mongol expert once told me that in the Mongol culture, you would add mounts to your belt as you gained stature. If you overstepped your status, an elder would come along and cut the excess mounts. I really like that image of that actually happening!
At the Sutton Hoo burial you find 2 sets of 2 matching mounts and a strap divider hinge on the belts, for a total of 5 large mounts. This is an example of a belt from about 625 CE. I like the fact that the odd number of mounts there allows for one mount to be centered at the middle of the back. The use of an odd number of mounts allows for that display to happen and I believe is fairly common.
It got scary! Real scary!
I think if not for all the help I got during the wind storm, the tent would have flipped over with me hanging on for dear life. The tent has gotten old, the stakes I have used for the last 25 years have gotten lost, misplaced, been bent, hammered until they no longer worked as needed.
I have gotten complacent with the set up. I have not had an issue since the last huge wind storm I experienced at Estrella War about 5 years ago. I had looked at the weather on the phone earlier in the day and it looked to me like there was nothing to worry about.
In New Mexico, where I live, there are almost no tornados. About 30 years ago, one hit Albuquerque and did damage to a couple of buildings, but really no big deal at all. I have been through Oklahoma after tornados have hit and been amazed by the power that the tornados have. I never again want to experience what I did at Gulf Wars, be it a tornado or not.
I think I will have to retire the old tent and replace it with a new one. It has served me well over a very long time, but it is time to admit that things get old, have gone through too many events and need to be retired.
Thanks again for Mistress Helga, Sir Bohemond, Master Bela and Eorl Mordygan for saving me and my tent.
Sometimes I get requests to make items for my website. This buckle was an interesting request, because it is for a baldric buckle that completes a late Roman buckle set we currently offer. There are examples of baldrics worn in period, the Sutton Hoo ship burial has a baldric set with a garnet buckle and tip. So this request was of interest to me to be able to offer another baldric set from a different time period.
Here is the completed buckle set
If you look behind the garnets in Anglo-Saxon jewelry you will often find gold foil scribed at several hundred lines to the inch and quite often you find the foil cross-hatched!
This gold foil, inset behind the garnets caused the garnets to "pop" in brilliance and riadiated light.
It is often speculated about the techniques used in the production of such fine work in academic journals. It is my contention that these foiled are the works of the apprentice gold smiths, with young eyes and steady hands. I am sure that the master gold smith would come along with his hammer and smash a good weeks work back flat with that scornful look and and announce "Do it again"