Reliving by the sword

Driving by campus Sunday afternoons, students might see something a little out of the ordinary. In the fields on Holly drive and North 50th street, a group, clad head to toe in medieval armor, engages in weapon-based combat training.

This group is a part of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) – a historical re-enactment group dedicated to studying and re-creating pre-17th-century culture. These fighters train to represent the Barony of Wyvernwoode on the field at SCA events.

But the Society is about more than just sword fighting. According to its Web site, the SCA has more than 30,000 members worldwide and is divided into kingdoms by region.

Florida is known as the Kingdom of Trimaris and is broken down into baronies that bring together members within one or more counties. The Barony of Wyvernwoode encompasses the Hillsborough County area. Members are allowed to engage in any activity from the time period, such as cooking, brewing, cartography and falconry, as long as they abide by SCA rules and regulations.

“It’s creating more than re-enacting,” said Chris Murray, who teaches light weapons combat at Sunday practices and is a blacksmith in the Society. “We don’t portray
anyone that actually existed. Rather, we try to make it our own by being as we would have been during that time.”

Murray said the community is not based on adhering to every authentic medieval detail, but welcomes members with all levels of dedication.

Once someone becomes a member of the SCA, they must choose a name and heraldry, which are checked for authenticity and registered as their own. The names and symbols chosen to represent the medieval alter ego often represent family lineage or personality traits.

“I chose the Bull because I’m stubborn,” said one practicing fighter.

Contributors to the SCA can belong to different classes or ranks, such as peasants or royalty. Rulers of each kingdom are decided by a tournament of armored combat. They serve terms according to the schedule of these tournaments.

“Kings basically oversee the events of the kingdom and are in charge of forming alliances and strategy during some battles,” said “Thorsten,” twice former king of Trimaris.

Fighters are monitored by judges on the field, but for the most part are held to the honor system of admitting to a killing blow and dismissing themselves from battle.

“If you get hit in a part of your body, you are supposed to mimic that injury – for instance, drop an arm if you are struck there,” Murray said. “Most people are good sports about it.”

Many take the competition seriously, but the events are always in good fun. Participants of legal age can enjoy alcoholic beverages at tournaments.

“It’s nice to be able to find the guy you killed in battle and buy him an ale afterwards,” Thorsten said.

For more information on the Society of Creative Anachronism, visit