Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Trip to the 11th Century

This weekend was an event of a different colour. Most SCA events are very general in nature. The only requirement is that a person attending dress in clothing that is pre-17th century. You can get everything from your 8th century Celt woad warrior cheek by jowl with you 16th c. Elizabethan Lady (and somtimes they may even be married to each other). This weeked the Canton of Eoforwic hosted the Icelandic Althing, an event with a distinctly Norse theme, recreating as it did a Norse parliment from Iceland in the early 11th century. People attending the event were encouraged to dress according to this theme, but it was not a requirement. Normally I hang out in the 16th century, part of the doublet, slops and ruff set. It works for me as my main interest in the SCA is period fencing. I have done other periods but 16th c. stuff is my focus so doing a Norse event (call it 8th through 11th c.) was going to be different for me. I was even going to use a different name, Snorii Vikisun, one that I had used at the Viking Beer Tent at Pennsic many years ago. I don't think I actual did use it at the event though.

The Preperation

My wife, Eve, known in the SCA as Asa Gormsdottir is truly a marvelous woman. In the course of the week before the event she made new Norse outfits for myself, my son, my daughter and herself. I had a new purple and gold wool tunic and a new brown norse wool coat to go along with my Norse pants, linen shirt, blue rectangular cloak and knit cap. Oddly enough, the black and green striped Norse pants are the first piece of garb my sweetie had ever made for me and were still going strong. Matthew got a new brown wool tunic to go with his two linen tunics. He also had a red knit cap which he really didn't want to wear but eventually he did. Elizabeth got a little apron dress, a saffron coloured tunic, and a "wool" coat (it was arctic fleece but it looked just like the real thing). Eve made another tunic, a red linen one to go over her green linen. She also had her herrigbone apron dress and she topped the whole thing of with a new light purple Norse coat in wool. The whole family looked great and the new garb was beautiful.

We also had lots of Norse bling happening. I had picked a lovely Norse rooster pin at Pennsic which was for pinning the top of my tunic closed. I also had a circular embossed silver pin which apparently came from the Metropolitan Museum of Art' I think Eve's mom, finder of all cool yard sale stuff, gave it to me. I also had a copper armband that had been given to me to replace the iron armband I had returned when I left the Isengesitha in Septentia. To this I added two brass armbands I borrowed from Eve and a large copper torc that Eve had given to her father and that had been returned to us when he passed away. I also had the grogeous pattern welded saxe knife Eve got me for our 11th anniversary. Eve had a magnificant Frankish pin in gold and red she had purchased at Pennsic from Raymond's Quite Press. Apparently her husband went a Viking for it and, um, "retrieved" it from the Franks. She also had the apron dress turtle broaches she purchased from Fettered Cock Pewter. Even Elizabeth got in on it with a neat celtic maze broach to hold her coat closed.

A couple of weeks before the event I'd e-mailed my friend Ian Walsh, owner of Blackthorn Productions, and asked him if I could borrow some of his companies props to further enhance my Norse appearance. The Thursday before the event he very kindly dropped of a Norse style sword, a spear, a beautiful centre boss round shield, and a helmet (no, not a magic one).

I spent the evening packing and loading stuff into the car. Even with all the pre-trip packing we didn't get out of the house until around 10 o'clock Saturday morning. Kids always make getting going fun.

The Site

The event was in Orono which is on Highway 35/115 on the way to Lindsay. The drive was about two hours according to Google and we made good time getting there. The site was a farm owned by two Scadians and it was a good area for the event with lots of space. We passed through the site gate after paying our fees and drove into the main area being used, after passing an archery range and a thrown weapons range. One part of the site had some modern tents but a large chunk of it was devoted to medieval tents. There was also a Merchant's Row set, which was run by two other recreation groups, the Dark Ages Recreation Company (DARC) and Regia Angalorum. This row had a number of early period craft production sites including bead makers, a potter, a pewter caster, a bone craver and a lot of people working with wool and other period fibers. There were even some period breeds of chicken there.

There was an area set up for fighting which included several melee battles over a boat made of hay bales and a holmgang style one on one tourney. The numerous kids attending the event had a lot of fun with the hay bales when they weren't being used by the fighters.

They also has a tent were various Arts and Sciences classes were taught, including one by Eve.

The Event

We got changed into our Norse garb at the tail gate of our van. It was bit of a struggle with Matthew. He justs wants to play but sometimes he balks at wearing garb. This time it was the knit cap. Eventually he did wear it, along with one of his linen tunics. A certain amount of sulking was involved but once he got going he basically forgot about the garb. Elizabeth looked very cute with her orange coat pinned over her tunic. I was wearing my new tunic with the blue rectangular cloak pinned over it. Eve did a very nice job of arranging it. Latter in the day I changed into the brown wool coat because it was so nice and needed to be shown off. I was wearing my saxe knife as well as the sword I got from Ian on a baldric. Everything was topped off by a knit Norse cap in blue and grey. Eve looked like a proper Norse woman, in multiple layers of linen and wool. She also put on her Norse coat latter in the day, and was complimented on how the colour resembled that of lichen dyed wool.

I hauled our stuff over to the Eoforwic camp and established a base consisting of a couple of Norse looking blankets, my bench chest, a seagrass basket and the shield. The sheild and blankets handily cloaked the mundane items like the cooler bag that had our food in it. Eve took the car to the parking area which was about a half a click from the main site.

Much of my day was spent following Elizabeth around for I foolishly decided not to pull out the play yard. She can really go when she wants to and basically kept going for the day. She lead me a merry chase all over the site and by following her preambulations I got to see most of what was happening, including merchants row, the fighting and even as far away as the archery range which was near the gate. She also had a lot of fun playing in the hay when the fighters weren't going bashy pow over it. I didn't get to see the law cases which were one of the focuses of the day which was too bad and I didn't get to linger and look at the merchan't wares, which was probably a healthy thing for my wallet. She was quite upset when the fighters started to use the hay bales for their battles as it meant she couldn't play on them any more. I also had to steer her away from things like the woods that edged the site and the giant fire pit that was being used to bake clay pots.

Eve was prepping for the class she was teaching as well as making sure we were all fed (roast beef buns, cheese, drinks and other snacks). This was good because a delicious smelling pot of stew was being prepared nearby for the camp feast that evening. Apparently it was quite delicious and the left overs were donated to a local mission.

Eve's class was on using various celtic motifs in SCA award scrolls, including ideas from the Book of Kells, the Lindasfarne Gospels and Celtic jewlery. She had four students who were very enthusiastic about what she had to say and show. She had numerous books with examples and some large, bristol board posters she had made up.

Matthew got to run around with a bunch of kids around his age who he had made friends with in the SCA. They played soccer and other games, including "Bash the Sticks Together". They also had fun playing in the hay bales, some of which did not survive the experience intact.

The forecast for the day had been one of doom and gloom, calling for periods of rain all day. It actually turned out to be a nice autumn day with a mix of sun and cloud with temps in the high teens, good weather for wearing wool. The rain held off until late in the day, and was quite light when it started. I was able to move our stuff under an Eoforwic shelter were it kept dry until Eve came to pick it up.

In a stroke of luck I had been chatting with one of the site owners, Aurelia, on Facebook and she asked me if she had invited us to supper. I said "Not that I was aware of." She said they were having barbecued steak and I said if you'll have us, we'll be there. Around 6 pm we loaded the car and drove back to to parking area, which was almost in front of their house. We brought the kids in, along with Elizabeth's play yard (see, we're learning). Matthew played with Tatiana, our host's daughter and with Aurora, the daughter of our friends Jon and Mya (Angus and Isabeau in the SCA). Master Hector, his Lady and their infant son were also there along with SCAdian friend who was visiting while on leave from the CAF, but was not attending the event. We had a lovely supper of steak cooked over a wood fire, fresh corn on the cob, salad and pie. We stayed there quite late chatting away through the evening. It was very pleasant, the kids had fun together and we stayed dry.

In an excellent stroke of preparation, we had arranged to crash over night at our friends Dave and Susan's place (Gunthar and Nicolaa in the SCA). This was very kind of them as they were the people who had been in charge of organizing and running the Althing event. We really appreciated it because a 45 minute drive through pouring rain to Ajax was nicer than trying to make it all the way back to Guelph. Eve brought a gift of two nice bottles of sweet German wine for our hosts, Susan being a very big fan. We spent some time chatting with them and then we all crawled into bed. We slept until after 8 the next morning and before we left Dave gifted Matthew and myself with some toys he had culled including a Star Wars video game, a model Stug III, and various spaceships from the Battlestar Galactica Titanium line. We also got some ships for Axis and Allies: Naval Battles. Thank you Dave! He also leant me his copy of Alatriste which I look forward to watching. We headed out from their place around 10 am and were on the road back to Guelph after a quick, very non-Norse breakfast at McD's. The rest of the weekend was spent unloading, unpacking and resting.

All in all,it was avery good event, the organizers describing it as virtually perfect, and they probably made money on it as well. There were at least 150+ people in attendance. A person who had attended the first Althing event, more than 10 years ago, noted one important difference between this event and that one: all the kids. From were we stood, in the middle of merchants row, we counted at least 12, including my 3 year old daughter who I was holding in my arms.

That's all for now.

No comments:

Post a Comment