Pennsic XXX

... or how we spent our summer vacation in another time entirely.

Sheila McClune 

You're going where?  To do what?

I've been getting those questions from my co-workers a lot recently.  For some reason, when you take two weeks off from work, it's expected that you're doing something really special with your vacation.

As it happens, I am.  I'm going back in time.

I suppose I should explain.  My husband Keith and I are members of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), a historical re-creation group which studies the Middle Ages and Renaissance.   We learn about many different aspects of life in pre-seventeenth century Western Europe by doing the arts, crafts, and other activities related to the time period.  Members of the SCA participate in a wide variety of activities, including cooking, costuming, calligraphy, and even combat.  Yep, we actually have people who dress up in armor and hit each other with swords -- only in this case, the "swords" are made of inch-diameter rattan, for safety purposes.  (After all, we just want to kill our friends, not to hurt them!)

The SCA has been in existence for something on the order of 35 years.  For thirty of those years, Society members from all over the Known World have been gathering once a year in western Pennsylvania for the annual Pennsic War.  This annual conflict between the East and Middle Kingdoms (roughly the northeastern seaboard and the midwest) started as a fairly modest gathering of SCA members, but in recent years, attendence has approached 10,000 people -- more people than lived in London during at least part of the time period we study.

The initial focus for the event was to stage battles between the armies of the two kingdoms, but that, too, has changed over the years.  The battles still happen, and are a most impressive sight, but now there are a multitude of other activities as well.  There are classes and parties and workshops and, of course, shopping.  But more on all of that in the days to come.

Meanwhile, if you want to learn more about the SCA or the Pennsic War, you can visit their websites:

And now ... on to the interesting bits ...


Got feedback?  Contact the author, Sheila McClune.

Disclaimer:  This is not an official publication of the Society for Creative Anachronism, and does not delineate SCA policies.  The opinions expressed are those of the author.