- Associated Press - Monday, December 14, 2015

APPLETON, Wis. (AP) - City Park in Appleton travels back in time for a few hours every other Sunday when the weather permits. Armor is donned, laces are tightened, shields are held high and rattan swords are drawn.

The gathered men and women, members of the Society for Creative Anachronism, head into the park, assume a new name and join fellow SCA members in armored combat practice. More specifically, these members belong to the Barony of Windhaven, the SCA chapter dedicated to northeastern Wisconsin with Dan “Grimmund” Long as their ceremonial head as Baron of Windhaven.

“The society re-creates the good parts of the Middle Ages,” Long told Post-Crescent Media (https://post.cr/21Nc8o3 ). “We don’t do the plague, we don’t do the Inquisition. If you get injured, we don’t take you to a barber surgeon, we take you to a real hospital.

“We are not strictly a reenactment organization; we are a re-creation organization. We do the parts we are interested in.”

When not in full medieval armor, members often can be found at the Masonic Lodge in Appleton, taking part in rapier combat, similar to fencing.



While armored combat is the most visible and audible aspect of the SCA, with the ring of battered shields and the shuffling of armor filling City Park, it’s not the only history-minded activity the group does. Singing, dancing, cooking, costuming, blacksmithing, bread making, and even growing flax to make linen fall in the spectrum of the SCA’s re-creation.

“Pretty much anything nondestructive that people in the Middle Ages did someone in the organization is probably trying to re-create,” Long said.

Members take up the persona of someone from before the 17th century by re-creating the clothes from their respective time period and even choosing a different name to go by while at SCA functions.

“You get a medieval name because ‘Hey Bob, Hey Joe’ kind of wrecks the mood, if you would, and it works a little better if we are trying to re-create that medieval ambiance if people have medieval names,” Long said.

Think Gianetta da Verona or Leonardo de Renzo or Richard the Roma.

From using modern paints and tools to complete scribal work to learning Middle High German to perform the Bardic Arts in their native language, historical accuracy is measured on a personal level within the Barony. Research is easy to come by with an assortment of books collected by the 51-year-old Long, who has been with the SCA for much of his adult life.

Gathered around the kitchen table in Long’s New London home, Windhaven members flip through pages of books. The collection covers nearly 15 major cultures for name research, medieval combat techniques and examples of scroll work and costuming.

The majority of the work that goes into the combat-related practices and activities that happen in the Barony begin in Long’s garage and workshop.

On any given Wednesday, anywhere from six to a dozen people can be found working in and around Long’s property - you’ll hear the sound of ringing metal and see tools at work well into the night, Some of those tools were found browsing eBay while others are homemade, welded together for a specific purpose.

The SCA doesn’t revolve around its combat practices, but the draw to the organization because of them is unmistakable, Long said. Having a garage filled with metalworking tools eases one of the burdens on those wanting to get into armored and rapier combat - making the armor.

While some members buy their weapons and armor, others choose to craft their own out of sheet metal, PVC and, in some cases, 50-gallon plastic drums. Specific rules must be followed for those wanting to make their own armor.

Knees, elbows, kidneys, throat, head, hands and groin protection must all be part of the armor kit, according to Long. Safety officers such as Chris “Cristoffel von Darmstadt” Nehrbass, the armored combat marshal for Windhaven, do safety inspections during practices and at events.

Weapons, usually made of rattan, need to be at least an inch and a quarter in diameter so they don’t go through the grill of the members’ helmets, and the proper technique is taught to reduce injuries and help the fighters with their practice, according to Nehrbass.

“We have to train because technique and the ability to understand what a killing blow is and where a killing blow is meant to be hit, those are the issues that we really face with a lot of new fighters,” Nehrbass said.

Members looking to fight with a lighter load gather at the Masonic Lodge for rapier combat.

Long, who is also the rapier combat marshal, prefers rapier because “the bruises are smaller and the gear is lighter.”

“It’s a lot of fun,” Long said. “There is always something new to learn and the nice thing about it is it’s not like if you switch from darts to softball and you have to go meet a whole new bunch of people. Within the organization you can always pick up a new area of interest without having to pick up a whole new set of friends and associates to go with it.”

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Information from: Post-Crescent Media, https://www.postcrescent.com

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