Newcomers

Picture this: After hearing about the SCA, you’re interested. You show up to a meeting to find people in costume, occasionally spouting lingo you’re not quite following. So-obviously- you’ve got a few questions.
Don’t panic. We’ve collected the most common questions below. If we haven’t covered your query here- feel free to contact the Chatelaine, who will be happy to answer any question you might have.
Who are you people?
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 .
What time period do you cover?
The SCA covers pre- 17th century history, mainly the European Middle Ages and Renaissance.
Can I bring my kids?
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.
Do you do demonstrations for other organizations?
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.
Do you do reenactments of actual events?
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.
Do you do those Renaissance Fairs?
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.
What if I don’t know anything about history?
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.
How do I get involved?
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.
How much does membership cost?
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.
I want to go to one of your events. What do I need to bring?
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.
What goes on at a weekend SCA event?
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.
Are cameras allowed?
Yes. Attempts to hide the camera when not in use, and discretion when using a flash are appreciated.
What sort of awards does the Shire have?
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.
Definitions of some terms commonly used in the SCA
Anachronism ­- Anything out of its proper place in time
Battered Blade – The Newsletter for the Shire of An Dun Theine
Event ­- This word in the SCA generally refers to an official SCA activity held on a weekend where there is a site fee and guests are expected to wear garb. Events usually include a tournament, classes, a feast, a dance after feast, and a bardic circle.
Favor ­- A ribbon, embroidered cloth, or other item given (usually to a fighter) as a mark of esteem. These can signify anything from simple friendship or good wishes, to a memento of love and commitment.
Feast Gear -­ Eating dishes and utensils for one diner. Most SCA feasts assume that guest will bring their own tableware suitable to the event. This includes a plate, bowl, drinking vessel, and utensils in pottery, metal, wood, or glass. Guests may also bring tablecloths, candles and any other items that might enhance the setting.
Garb ­- Medieval clothing worn to SCA events, as opposed to “costumes” which are worn to Halloween parties or masked balls.
Heavy Weapons -­ Combat performed in armor and simulated (rattan) weapons on foot, as opposed to “Light Weapons” which include fencing and archery. Heavy weapons combat is done in armor that meets SCA safety regulations, according to SCA rules, which were developed to safely re-create the combat of the medieval knight.
Period -­ The SCA period ranges from the fall of the Roman Empire (about 450 A.D.) to the beginning of the Reformation, generally identified by the death of Queen Elizabeth I in 1607. The word “period” is used in the SCA as shorthand for “historically accurate”.
Persona ­- A character assumed by an SCA member, someone who “could have existed” in a specific time and place in the SCA period. Use of actual historical persons as a persona is not permitted.
Popular Chivalry ­- Newsletter for the Kingdom of Meridies, containing flyers for upcoming events. Comes with sustaining membership in the SCA.
Tournaments Illuminated ­- The quarterly magazine published by the Society for Creative Anachronism. Comes with sustaining membership in the SCA.