Medieval group steps back in time for a day
By PAMELA GRANT
Have you ever wanted to step back into the Middle Ages? To many, it seems like a romantic era with lords, ladies, knights and more; however, there was also plague, famine, and some rather strange medical practices.
The Society for Creative Anachronism, or SCA, is a local medieval group that recreates the Middle Ages not as it was, but as they wish it had been—keeping all the best parts and leaving out the less pleasant aspects. The SCA allows members a safe place to practice whatever part/s of the Middle Ages most fascinates him or her.
On Saturday, the Stronghold of Hellsgate, the Central Texas branch of the SCA, hosted a Hotter Than Hellsgate event at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Copperas Cove which highlighted many of the different activities offered by the group.
“We’re trying to focus on the arts today, so newer people know what’s out there to help them. We have all of our guilds out here,” said Branden Buchmeier (known in the SCA as Lord Jean Raimbeut), the group’s Seneschal. “We’re still going to have a little bit of fighting because fighting is fun.”
The event started at 8 a.m. and ran throughout the day. Every hour they showcased a different guild within the group. The guilds held mini classes in their respective arts. The event had a little something for everyone, offering classes on sewing, leatherwork, charcuterie, scribal arts, and more. They even had a class on brewing, with taste testing of course.
Kellie Daniel (known in the SCA as the Honorable Lady Safiyya bint Khalid) taught a class on the scribal arts. Daniel taught participants about basic calligraphy strokes, how to get started, and what supplies beginners should get.
“I grew up in an artistic family, and this gives me a historical context to art,” said Daniel. “It gives me a whole lot of inspiration. You have over 1000 years of art to look at and to emulate.”
Although the primary goal of the event was to highlight the arts and sciences, they still included both chivalric and rapier tournaments.
Kelly Hatcher (known in the SCA as Baron Ceallach mac Donal) was one of many who participated in the rapier tournament, eventually emerging as the day’s victor. Hatcher talked about the difference between the chivalric, or armored, combat which uses rattan swords and fencing which uses a real sword with a tip that covers its point. Hatcher described it as either throwing a real shot with a fake sword or a fake shot with a real sword.
“Stabbing people is fun,” joked Hatcher when asked why he enjoys fighting in the SCA. “Fencing has a similar adrenaline rush to a good downhill ski run…Like paintball, there’s negative incentive to get hit. It’s not as fun without the risk. That’s why paintball is more popular than laser tag. It’s the same here, you’re doing something with a challenge and keeping yourself from getting hit.”
Katrina O’Keefe (known in the SCA as Katalina Ana de Salamanca), the Southern Regional Hospitaller, described what the SCA is. O’Keefe said that the SCA as a group started about 50 years ago as a party that got bigger and bigger until it finally became what it is today. Today’s SCA consists of 20 kingdoms with over 30,000 members around the world.
O’Keefe called it a ‘history that could have been—that should have been’. Adding that, at its heart, the SCA gives members the ability to display better virtues.
“It gives you the opportunity to participate in an umbrella organization of crafters that’s outside anything I’ve ever experienced until the internet. There’s group’s now that do it, but…in person, this is the only organization that I’ve really seen that’s really dedicated to self-education,” said O’Keefe. “I’ve been in the SCA 23 years, so I’ve done a lot of stuff. I’ve had the opportunity to do almost everything the SCA offers, but I’m still always finding one more thing that someone’s come up with that I go ‘Ooh, I want to try that!’.”
O’Keefe said that within the group, she’s built armor, fought in that armor, practiced spinning, dying, weaving, sewing, archery, and more.
“No matter what, it’s always important to learn about history, and this is a fun way to do it,” said Buchmeier about being a member of the SCA. “You’re not learning conventionally. You’re learning by doing, and you’re having fun and getting knowledge about the past.”