The Canton of Charlesbury Crossing is a branch of the Society for Creative Anachronism encompassing the North Carolina counties of Mecklenburg, Union, Stanly, Cabarrus, and Anson. The SCA is a non-profit, educational organization dedicated to the study and selective re-creation of life in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The Canton of Charlesbury Crossing is part of the Barony of the Sacred Stone, which is in the Kingdom of Atlantia .
If you asked various members as to what the Society for Creative Anachronism was all about, you would probably receive a different answer from each person. For one, being in the SCA might mean learning a new craft such as spinning wool or making wine. For another, it might mean spending a leisurely weekend in a “renaissance atmosphere” complete with clothing, feasting, and dancing from that era. Yet another might say he/she enjoys battling other armed warriors for the honor of their consort.
The Society for Creative Anachronism, (or SCA to most), is a non-profit educational organization, which is dedicated to the study and re-creation of most crafts, customs, and ideals of pre-seventeenth century, European culture. Members try to re-create life not necessarily as it was, but as it should have been. Members attempt to embody those seemingly lost ideals of Chivalry, Courtesy, and Honor.
Members are encouraged to research a favorite period of history between the years 600 AD and 1600 AD. While most members study mainly European cultures, everyone is free to study any culture known to Europe during this era. Members then put their research into practice by learning and performing period crafts and activities. In addition, an alter-ego, or Persona, is developed and members are able to imagine themselves noble lords and ladies during official Society events.
There are SCA groups in nearly every city and town across the continent. The United States is divided into Kingdoms and the cities and towns contained therein are subdivided into Baronies, Shires , and Cantons. Members of the SCA come from all walks of life and educational backgrounds. There are families and single adults, young and young-at-heart; who are all brought together by a common interest in the Middle Ages. Members meet regularly to learn or practice period subjects. On weekends, members often travel to campsites throughout their Kingdom to participate in such activities as Collegiums, Tournaments, Arts & Sciences Fairs, Revels, mock Wars, and Quests.
There are as many different facets to the Society as there are individual members. While tournament combat and period clothing (or garb) are some of the more visible aspects of Society play, there are many things to do for people who prefer other pastimes. Archery, leather crafting, cooking, heraldry, calligraphy, music, dancing, brewing, vinting, spinning, and weaving are just a sampling of the arts and sciences researched, taught, and practiced by SCA members.
We invite you to join us and experience these Current Middle Ages!
SCA members usually make their own garb, although sometimes you can barter or trade services to have someone make you simple garb. There are also merchants at many events who sell garb.
For women, a plain-colored long skirt and a peasant-type blouse will serve. A length of white cloth, can make a veil to hide modern hair. For men, try plain trousers or sweatpants (not jeans), and a peasant-style shirt that is not tucked in. A cloak, even one made of a blanket, can hide modern clothes. For accessories, try adding a pouch or drawstring purse which fits your belt or a stylized cross or pendant suspended from a chain. For shoes, choose leather boots or simple slippers (the Chinese type works well), or moccasins without fringe. Be wary of wearing metal circlets unless they are very simple. An ornate or jeweled circlet may lead you to be mistaken for titled nobility, which can be embarrassing.
Do not wear a white belt, sash, or baldric (belt across the chest). Plain, white belys are reserved for members of the Chivalry. Bright colored belts, such as red, green, or yellow, often indicate that the wearer is a student of a particular person (Peer). Although non-white colors are not in any way restricted, in some kingdoms, there may be a misunderstanding. Unadorned necklaces of plain gold links without medallions or pendants are also worn by Knights only.
Avoid wearing any type of sword until you have asked about what is permissible in your kingdom or even at a specific event. There is a special etiquette about bearing a steel blade. To keep the knife or blade from becoming unsheathed accidentally, many people fasten a cord around it to hold it in place.
Every person in the SCA picks a name to use within the Society. It could be something simple and familiar (John of Cardiff) or something elaborate and exotic (Oisin Dubh mac Lochlainn). Most people pick a time period in the SCA period (600-1600 AD) and a country (any place that had trade with Western civilization during our period), and choose a name from that. Some SCA members try to create a persona which could have lived in some time and place within the scope of the SCA and then style their garb and activities to fit that persona. Some people go so far as to try to live at events as if they were their personae. Other folk simply pick a name and go ahead with life in the Current Middle Ages .
Even our modern towns have medieval names. For instance, the city of Charlotte, NC is referred to as Charlesbury Crossing in the SCA. Toronto is called Eoforwic, Boston is Carolingia, and the San Francisco bay area is the Principality of the Mists, etc.
The SCA has its own College of Arms, which assists members in choosing and registering their SCA names and heraldic devices. The College of Arms assists members in their research, helping to ensure that everyone’s names and devices are appropriate to the medieval world we’re trying to recreate. The College of Arms also ensures that each person’s name and device will be unique.
Medieval-style combat, with its swords, shields, and armor attracts a lot of attention and lures many people into trying it. Both men and women actively participate in recreating medieval foot combat. Most kingdoms require a combat participant to have reached the age of majority in his or her state, province, or country, but the SCA gives the kingdoms the option of allowing participants as young as 16 to fight with parental consent. Your local Marshal will tell you what the age limits are in your area.
As with any contact sport, there are rules designed to increase the safety of the game. The Rules of the Lists set out the Society standards for SCA combat. Each kingdom adds additional rules and requirements covering acceptability of blows, styles of weapons and fighting, as well as armor. The local marshal should have a copy of the current kingdom rules.
Most local groups offer some form of fighter training, ranging from formal, structured training sessions to an informal “Let’s get together in my backyard.” A fighter must be authorized in order to fight in all tournaments and wars. Authorization procedures vary from kingdom to kingdom. The local marshal can tell you the procedure in your area. Authorization is to confirm that the novice knows the rules of combat and is sufficiently skilled so that he or she will not be a danger to either yourself or to others. While efforts are made by the Society and its participants to reduce the likelihood of injury, bruising and similar minor injuries are quite common. There is the risk of more serious injury for all combat participants.
Fighters are responsible for obtaining their own armor and weapons. Some people make most of their armor, using metal, leather, or plastic, but most buy pieces, either new or used. Before making any armor, check with your local marshal about the safety standards and requirements.
There are many other things to do in the SCA aside from fighting. Perhaps you have a skill in the modern world or an interest that can be incorporated into the medieval world. Just about anything you can think of doing now has some sort of medieval equivalent. Some of the many things studied in the SCA are:
That’s just a partial list of interests you can pursue. The best thing is, there’s already someone in the SCA doing each of these things. Your local A&S Minister can help put you in contact with current SCA members who share your interest or can instruct you.
SCA folk tend to be people like you and me — just plain folks, but people who enjoy doing something more with their weekends. It seems that a high percentage of SCA members are involved in technical fields — Computers, Aerospace, Nursing, etc. Perhaps the attraction the SCA holds for them can be attributed to the fact that people who spend all week with highly complex, modern technology find it relaxing to spend their leisure time working with a different kind of technology, in a less modern setting. There are lots of people in all fields in the SCA — historians, writers, secretaries, law enforcement personnel, teachers, programmers, insurance agents — the appeal of the SCA is widespread.
A housemate of an SCA person recently said: “From what I can tell about these wild and crazy SCA people, they do more than just this fighting thing. They really like to make and wear the medieval clothes (garb ), eat the medieval food, dance the medieval dances to the medieval music, maybe even make their own medieval music, and other medieval party type activities. They also seem to like to be medieval so they can relax and have a good time. They are quite willing to talk about the SCA or invite you to the SCA stuff or whatever.” There you have it!
Participation in the SCA is open to any person who shares the Society’s interest in medieval re- creation and re-enactment, whether they opt for a paid membership or not. Paid membership is only a requirement for Crown Tournament participants and for kingdom and Society officers. Sustaining, contributing or patron members receive their kingdom’s newsletter. This publication provides important information events going on in the kingdom.
By becoming a paid member of the SCA, you provide valued financial support, are counted in the growing ranks of those supporting the Society’s aims and ideals, and receive a discount at most Society events. The SCA is one of the few organizations, however, where you can participate without paying dues, although, those who are able, are encouraged to become paid members.
Beyond supporting the SCA directly with a paid membership, you can expect to pay reasonable event attendance fees and, of course, whatever you decide to spend on your own garb, equipment, armor, etc. Many people have made a substantial investment in their SCA gear over the years. But all you have to do when attending an event is pay the gate fee and make an attempt at recreating medieval garb to the best of your means.
The SCA has groups all over the world, dividing it geographically into Kingdoms, subdivided by Baronies, Shires, Stronngholds, Cantons, and Colleges. The Charlotte area, called Charlesbury Crossing in SCA parlance, is a Canton within the Barony of the Sacred Stone (midwestern NC), which is within the Kingdom of Atlantia (the eastern US coast from MD to Augusta, GA)
To find your local group in the Kingdom of Atlantia, visit http://atlantia.sca.org/offices/chatelain/groups
An Award of Arms is a form of recognition by the Crown and raises one to the ranks of nobility. While everyone in the SCA is assumed to be of noble birth, an Award of Arms (or AoA) allows a person to style themselves as a Lord or Lady (capital L) throughout the Society. It is typically awarded for service at the pleasure of the Crown.
For complete descriptions of all Atlantian orders and awards, visit the Order of Precedence pages at http://op.atlantia.sca.org/awards.php
Medieval society was very structured with a system of ranks: kings, dukes, barons and lords. The SCA has a similar hierarchy. It is often difficult for a newcomer to tell if the person with whom s/he is conversing is someone with a title. If you are in doubt, address the person as “my lord” or “my lady.” These terms are widely used and acceptable to polite persons of all ranks.
People who wear crowns or coronets are easy to spot and they all have a specific title. Identifying the wide range of crowns, coronets, and fancy circlets on people’s heads can be tricky. When in doubt of a person’s rank, address the person as “Your Excellency.” But, with a little experience, you’ll be able to recognize crowns and coronets in no time. Titles in the SCA do not stack. The highest ranking title is the one used to address a person.
There are additional elevated ranks in the SCA: the Chivalry (commonly addressed as “Sir” or “Dame”), the Laurels (addressed as “Master” or “Mistress”), and the Pelicans (also addressed as “Master” or “Mistress”). They are collectively knows as the Peers of the Realm. In many kingdoms, former royalty are called Royal Peers.
The term “lord” or “lady” may refer to anyone in the Society if you do not know their rank, but the title “Lord” or “Lady” is reserved for those who have received an Award of Arms from the crown. This is often the first award granted to a person. It recognizes service to the kingdom or a local group and entitles the person to be called “Lord” or “Lady” (name) and to bear Arms.
King / Queen – Varies, but with none of the below
There are two sorts of peers in the SCA: Royal Peers and Awarded Peers. Royal Peers are those persons who have served as the crowns of a Kingdom or Principality. Those who have served as a Prince or Princess of a Principality are called Viscount & Viscountess. Those who have been King or Queen once are called Counts & Countesses. Those who have been King or Queen twice (or more) are called Dukes & Duchesses. These are automatic titles granted upon the successful completion of a reign.
Awarded Peers are folk who, by dint of talent, hard work, and long effort, have earned recognition for their contributions and skills. There are three awarded peerage orders, all of which have the same basic requirements. Companions must be honorable and courteous, familiar with the basic, gentle arts of a medieval court, and should have proven their dedication to the Society and its ideals. These orders rank equally. Peers are created by the desire of the King and Queen in accordance with the recommendations of the companions of the order.