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The SCA (the Society for Creative Anachronism) is a practical history society, recreating the arts and skills of pre-17th century Europe. While dressed in clothing of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, you can experience tournaments, royal courts, feasts, and dancing. You also have the opportunity to learn and practice ancient arts and skills — calligraphy, cooking, armoring, metalworking, carpentry, and needlework (to name just a few) — within an all-ages social group.


The SCA is a great place to make friends and learn transferable skills.

We are historical re-creationists. We have found that researching and re-creating the Middle Ages is both educational and fun! This is a hobby for us, but many of us take this hobby very seriously. You will be amazed at how much effort some members put into it. You can learn more about the SCA by visiting our organization’s home page at www.sca.org/newcomers.

The SCA covers pre- 17th century history, mainly the European Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Absolutely! The SCA has many activities for the youngsters. In fact, there are many members who “grew up in the SCA”. After 40 years, there are even a few third generation SCA’ers around. Events often have activities for both the little ones, and the teenage children, including youth combat (for teens and pre-teens), the Page school, and the gosling guild.

Yes, we are often asked to do demonstrations for schools, scouting groups, and other organizations. These vary from a small one-hour program to a large activity complete with combat demonstrations and dance classes. Contact the Chatelaine for more information.

No. Unlike the Civil War re-enactors who stage specific historical events, our activities are more free-form. Individuals select and create their own hypothetical personas. Events are often based on a specific place and time as a theme, but guests are welcome to come in any attire or persona of the SCA period.

The Huntsville chapter of the SCA (the shire of An Dun Theine) has on occasion hosted a local, free Renaissance Fair each year at UAH to entertain the public and to publicize our activities. The SCA is not involved in sponsoring any of the large for-profit Renaissance Fairs such as the Atlanta Renaissance Fair, however, many SCA members are present at these fairs, providing color and entertainment.

No problem. The SCA appeals to both those who are into historical research AND those who just enjoy the fantasy of life in the middle ages. All we require is that you make some attempt at appropriate costume (ask for help!) and that you treat others with courtesy and respect befitting a chivalric society. Some history will rub off on you whether you want it to or not.

Just show up at one of our local activities on Tuesday night, or one of our fighter practices, and we’ll help you get started. Or contact our Chatelaine for some pointers. The national SCA web site also has a useful newcomers page.

Sustaining membership in the SCA is $45 per year. Additional family memberships are $10 each, up to $25 per family. Members receive a discount of $5 at SCA events and the monthly Kingdom (regional) newsletter, “Popular Chivalry”. Subscriptions to the national quarterly magazine “Tournaments Illuminated” are an additional fee. Click here for the membership form: http://www.sca.org/members/us-mem-form.pdf.

The minimum that you need to bring is one outfit that is passably medieval, some dishes for the feast, and an event fee. Costumes are available for loan to newcomers from our Gold Key inventory. Contact the Gold Key officer for more information. If you are staying overnight on the site, you should make a reservation for bed space or bring a tent, if tents are allowed. Bring a sleeping bag or bedroll. Note that some feasts will sell out, so reservations for feast are recommended also.

A typical SCA event in the Kingdom of Meridies will include an armored combat tournament, a medieval feast dinner, and dancing after the feast. Other Activities are usually offered, such as rapier fencing, archery, classes, a bardic circle (songs, poetry or stories of the period), games, and children’s activites. When the King and Queen are present, they will hold a Royal Court to present awards and honors to their subjects.

Yes. Attempts to hide the camera when not in use, and discretion when using a flash are appreciated.

The Shire has 6 awards which are usually presented at the Christmas party in December. If you feel someone is worthy of an award, please let the Seneschal know. They are:

Everlasting Fortress 

This is an award of special dignity and honor, to recognize those who through continuous exemplary service and dedication have greatly enriched the Shire. Recipients of this award are the pillars of the Shire, true leaders and role models. Those individuals have improved the medieval experience of the Shire by regular teaching and sharing of their knowledge. They have consistently displayed courtesy and chivalry in an exemplary manner, above and beyond those efforts normally required of the populace. This award can be received only once. Candidates are eligible if they: – Held an office in the Shire for more than two years – Are a member of the Shire for at least 5 years – Have received an AoA

Silver Sentinel 

Given to honor and recognize those individuals who have demonstrated outstanding service to the Shire and have proven to be valuable and reliable members of the Shire. This award can be received once.

Ivied Flame

Given to honor and recognize those individuals who have shown skill and accomplishment in the Arts and Sciences, especially but not exclusively in the following fields: Illumination and Calligraphy, Historic Research, Dancing, Creative Writing, Costume and Textile Application, Cooking, Ceramics and Sculpture, Leatherwork, Metalwork, Woodwork, Heraldic Display, Brewing. This award can be received once for each category.

Golden Bear

Given to honor and recognize those individuals who successfully performed tasks in the field of public relations and public services. It recognizes the extra efforts put into entertaining & teaching our goslings, giving encouragement and assistance to newcomers, autocratting and/or feastcratting, and rendering medical services to the populace. This award may be received once per category.

Shadowed Gauntlet

Given to honor and recognize those individuals who have shown skill and accomplishment in the martial arts, namely Heavy Fighting, Rapier Fighting, Archery, and Live Weapons. Special recognition lies upon the training of new fighters. This award can be received once for each category (Heavy, Rapier, Archery. Live Weapons).

Seneschal’s Delight 

Given to members of the Shire in recognition for a job well done. The bestowal of this award lies solely in the Seneschal’s discretion. This award can be received more than once

There is so much to learn, and once you learn it, someone will show you another way to do it. This list is no where near complete but these are just a few of the things we do in the SCA:


Archery, Armoring, Astronomy, Basketry, Beadwork, Belly dancing, Brewing, Calligraphy, Camping, Chain mail, Chess, Cooking, Costuming, Dancing, Dollmaking, Drumming, Dyeing, Embroidery, Equestrian Arts, Feasting, Felting, Fencing, Glassblowing, Hawking, Heraldry, Herbalism, Illumination, Knife making, Knitting, Lace making, Leatherworking, Linguistics, Merchanting, Newsletters, Painting, Research, Serving, Sewing, Shopping, Singing, Soap making, Spinning, Tent making, Theatre, Volunteering, Weaving, Woodworking.

The thrill of combat lives in the Society!

One of the most well-known and widely-enjoyed activities in the SCA is armored combat. Our warriors participate in tournaments for individuals and teams, tactical melees involving dozens of combatants, and even large-scale wars with thousands of participants! Unlike reenactments of battles from history, our combat activities are unchoreographed and the outcome is entirely based on the skill and training of the combatants involved.

Combat in the Society is based on a system of honor and chivalry. Because the combat is full speed and unchoreographed, the combatants themselves determine if the attacks they receive were successful based on the angle, location, and force of the strike. Safety officers, known as marshals, are always on hand to ensure that the combat is performed safely and to ensure that all equipment used meets established safety standards.

There are three main “arena” of SCA participation: the Fighting arts, the Arts and Sciences, and the Service arts. In the Fighting, or Martial, arts there are two forms: Heavy Weapons and Rapier fencing, and several forms of archery and equestrian activities.

Heavy weapons is a full-contact, non-choreographed, martial art that uses solid rattan weapons (swords), shields, assorted other weapons, and heavy armor. Rattan is a type of bamboo, and rattan weapons are usually 2″-thick ‘sticks’ of rattan, usually wrapped in strapping tape and duct tape.

Armored Combat is a “full-contact” art. They really are hitting each other, and with considerable force. There is a standard for “calibrating” blows so they are forceful enough to have caused damage with an edged sword against chain mail but are not so forceful as to cause actual injury.

Heavies fighting is also a “non-choreographed” art. The fighters have not planned out in advance who will hit when and where, unlike stage or movie combat. Fighters do practice typical strikes and blocks, learning the building blocks for fighting with swords (and shields) however each fight is new and pits skill and stamina and wit against one another.

 

Heavy armor is designed to protect the fighter against most blows, however, since force is being used, bruises are not uncommon. If fighters are being bruised regularly, they may need to increase their armor in that area, repair any damage to the armor, or attend practice to learn new techniques to lessen the chance of being hit in that area.

It is rare that anyone is hurt beyond bumps and bruises. Serious injuries are most commonly caused by armor failures, however occasional sprains, muscle pulls, hurt fingers, etc. do happen.  The common rule of thumb is that SCA heavy weapons is safer than football but the fitness level of the fighter has something to do with their injury rate. If you are just an occasional fighter, without an ongoing fitness program, you are more likely to get hurt.

As much or as little as you’d like to spend. Most new heavy weapons fighters start off spending as little as $100-$150, maybe $200-$500, or the extreme can range from $700 to more than $1000.

How to Spend Nothing: To start off, most local groups have some loaner armor availabl-old armor, armor that no longer fits someone, armor from someone who no longer fights; there are many ways to find armor to give fighting a try without spending a cent.

After You’ve Tried it Out a Little Bit: When you’re ready to start investing time, energy, training, and money into fighting, there are many options available to you. You might buy and/or barter with local fighters to acquire used, but still usable, armor pieces. You might want to build your own armor. Or you might decide to patronize one of our armor makers. The best advice is to find fighters to let you try different types of armor before you invest money in armor that disappoints you.

Anyone Can Participate: Please remember this is a hobby, and that starving college students can play alongside the highest paid computer consultant. You can do this on a budget, or you can save up and spend lots of money on custom made armor. It’s your personal choice.

Yes. The key, again, is find a local group of fighters. Attend some fighter practices, watch a few tournaments, go to a war and watch the unit fighting. Look a different styles of armor, weapons, and fighting techniques. Talk to everyone, listen to everything. Then get in and try a little. Find folks willing and able to arm you up. Take a few hits against a pell (a practice pole or form against which you can hit a sword and learn different types of blows). With time, patience, and determination, anyone can learn whether heavy weapons is the type of sport they want to participate in. It’s not for everyone, but everyone is welcome to give it a try.

NOTE: There are age requirements! You must be 18 or older to participate in SCA Heavy Weapons. You must be 14 or older to participate in SCA Rapier Fencing.

YES! ABSOLUTELY! You may hear some SCA members say “This is the Middle Ages as it should have been.” Or “we recreate the middle ages without the plague, burnings, or discrimination.” These are helpful clichés for getting a beginning feel for the SCA, but they are not the whole picture.

You may have heard someone suggest that “women didn’t fight in period.” It turns out that is not always true, and there are dozens of examples of women fighting throughout history—and not just by cutting their hair and pretending to be boys. In SCA Heavy weapons (and all other forms of SCA fighting, for that matter), women are encouraged to take up the sword just as any of the men. You are not required to “pretend to be a boy,” although there are occasionally some female fighters who do adopt a “male persona” in armor. Most do not. There are women knights in the SCA, women commanders, women squires, women who have won Crown or Coronet tournaments and become Queen or Princess by their own right of arms.

Rapier Combat is a style of historical fencing practiced in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA). The primary focus is to study, replicate and compete with styles of rapier sword-fighting found in Europe during the Renaissance period, using blunted steel swords and a variety of off-hand defensive items. Participants wear period clothing while competing, along with or incorporating protective equipment (such as modern fencing masks) for safety. Members of the society sometimes refer to the sport as simply rapier.

Rapier combat is based on the sword-fighting done in the later part of the SCA period. While armored combat simulates tournament and war-fighting in the Middle Ages, rapier combat is based on the practice of dueling. Fighters wearing puncture-resistant cloth armor compete with blunt, rubber-tipped metal blades.

Like armored combat, we have both single competition and melees. In tournaments, rapier fighters fight one-on-one, while melees are fought between two teams. The goal of a melee may be to defeat all the members of the opposing side, to capture a flag, or to hold a certain amount of land. Some rapier melees simulate fights in a town or tavern brawls.

When you show up to a practice, you'll need the following: 

  • Either proof that you're eighteen or, if you're 16 or 17, a parent/legal guardian who can sign a waiver for you.
  • Groin protection. (Men need standard athletic protection. For most women (depending on height, etc.), the group's loaner rapier jackets meet the requirement of puncture-resistant groin protection. Women who need or want more protection may wish to bring female groin protection. This can be hard to find, but is often carried at boxing or martial arts supply stores.
  • Non-marking shoes, such as non-black-soled sneakers.
  • A good attitude and a willingness to learn.
  • Comfortable clothes to fight in, including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and long socks. Once you put on the jacket, hood, mask, and gloves, every inch of skin has to be covered. The long socks keep your legs from being exposed as you lunge or bend.
  • Water, Gatorade, etc. for staying hydrated.
  • If you've done sport fencing and you have a three-weapon mask, an epee, and/or a fencing jacket, bring them.

Rapier fighters try to bring loaner armor and weapons to practice every week. If you'd like to practice, check in with the Rapier or Knights Marshal to make sure the loaner gear will be there. It's a good idea to check a couple days before the practice. That way, if the person who usually transports the gear isn't able to make it, alternate arrangements can be made.

Fighters practice against each other one-on-one, and may also fight in small melees. When you're just starting out, we'll explain the basics, including the rules and calibration, and have you practice the footwork, basic attacks, and blocks. Usually, you'll do a mix of slow drills and half- or full-speed sparring. (You learn and perfect a move at slow speed, then practice it at full speed.)

You'll usually start with a weapon only, then move on to using a hard or soft parry device or a second weapon in your off-hand.

Since our fighter practice is for both rapier and armored combat, you'll also get to see armored fighters beating each other about the head with sticks.

Somewhat, but with a few differences. While competitive fencing is done in a straight line, SCA rapier combat is fought "in the round," with lateral movements. Fighters can also block blades with their off hand, or use a parry device or a second weapon.

SCA rapier combat uses heavy blades, rather than foils and epees. Fighters using heavy rapiers must wear a gorget to protect the throat. Heavy rapier combatants are also allowed to grasp their opponent's blade.

If you've done competitive fencing, most of what you have learned will transfer to rapier combat, once you get used to using your off-hand and moving in 360 degrees.

The biggest difference is the armor. Armored combatants wear full armor (such as chain mail, plate, or leather) and a metal helm like a Knight or solider would have worn, and the rattan weapons represent heavy cutting blades or mass weapons. Rapier combatants wear puncture-resistant cloth armor over the torso (such as a commercial fencing jacket or a doublet made from layers of sturdy fabric), as well as a mask, hood, and gloves. The weapons are metal blades, usually much lighter than the rattan weapons used on the armored list.

Calibration, or the force used to "kill" an opponent is another difference. In armored combat, a telling blow has a significant amount of force behind it. While it's not supposed to hurt much, bruises are a part of the game. In rapier combat, positive force in the direction of the blade is sufficient, and much more than that is considered excessive. While you'll still get a few small bruises every now and again, you won't hit or be hit nearly as hard as in armored combat.

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