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Reenacting History: Come Live in the Past

Updated on September 11, 2014
CuAllaidh profile image

Jeff Johnston is a medieval reenactor and avid history fan. He is also the publisher at Living History Publications.

Historical Reenactors Do More Than Play Dress Up

There is a lot more to historical reenacting then dressing up in funny looking clothes, many take a step back and try to live in the past while in character. Generally living in the past is considered a negative thing, however historical reenactors often deliberately live in the past for fun. If you have a love of history, maybe you have what it takes to be a historical reenactor.

Most people think of civil war reenactors, if they think of reenactors at all, however there are reenactors for a wide variety of time periods, from medieval ages right on up. Not only does time period vary, but so does how serious groups take them, for some reenacting is a fun hobby and an attempt is all that is necessary, for others complete 100% historical accuracy is demanded.

If you are considering doing some historical reenacting you must consider how much time you are willing to put into it, and what time period you wish to reenact.

Medieval Reenacting

There are a number of groups that reenact medieval times in various ranges of seriousness, from renaissance faires up to professional historical reenactors that strive for as close to perfect historical accuracy as possible. Each group has its drawbacks and advantages all depending on what you want to get out of it. Groups such as Darc company for example pride themselves on historical accuracy and fit in a very narrow time period and geographical area.

One aspect that draws many people to medieval reenactment is the costuming, or as its often called in the reenacting circles "garb".

Society For Creative Anachronisms

Time Period: Pre 17th Century

Location: Europe

Characterizations: Peoples in regular contact with Europeans during the specified time period.

If you are interested in Medieval Reenacting the SCA is a good starting place. The SCA or Society for Creative Anachronisms is an international group that truly does span the globe. They are not quite as stringent on historical accuracy as many other historical recreation groups, but they do require a reasonable attempt at pre 17th century attire.

I am a SCAdian myself, scadian is the name members of the SCA often refer to themselves as. The SCA is wide open for a variety of interests and allows you to delve as deep into historical research of your area of interest as you wish and yet does not require you to have 100% accuracy.

More info:

  1. SCA Website
  2. A Beginners guide to the SCA

Darc Company

Time Period: 800 - 1000 AD

Location: Northern Europe - Primarily Scandinavia, England and Ireland

Characterizations: Primarily Norse but can include Saxon, Celt, Britain, - peoples in regular contact with the Norse.

Darc Company is for more serious medieval reenacting, Darc company prides themselves on historical accuracy, to partake in a Darc reenactment all visible garb (clothing) must be historically accurate. The group is based in Canada mainly in Central Ontario. Darc often have paid historical reenacting events, so the reenactors can earn money for their work.

More info:

  1. Website

Regia Anglorum

Time Period: 850 - 1100 AD

Location: Northern Europe - Primarily Scandinavia, England and Ireland

Characterizations: Anglo-Saxon, Viking, Norman and British Living History

Regia Anglorum are professional living history experts. Their events are paid events, those who participate are all paid to do so. Naturally the historical accuracy required to be a member is quite high, if you are not in 100% period garb you will not be allowed to participate.

More info:

  1. Regia Website

War of 1812

Time Period: War of 1812

Location: North America

Characterizations: British and American forces.

There is no unifying group for 1812 reenactors but rather a collection of units. Historical accuracy is maintained by the Unit leaders.

A collection of sites for 1812 reenactors

Still Looking?

Haven't found the right time period yet? Keep looking, there is bound to be one that fits what you are looking for.

Wikipedia's list of historical reenactment groups

© 2012 Jeff Johnston

Are you a history geek?

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    • CuAllaidh profile image

      Jeff Johnston 6 years ago from Alberta Canada

      @TeacherSerenia: Yes there are some, what part of Canada and what period of renaissance do you want, are you looking for Faires or more historically accuracy?

    • TeacherSerenia profile image

      TeacherSerenia 6 years ago

      Is there any renaissance re-enacting group around? In Canada does anyone know?

    • Rankography profile image

      Rankography 6 years ago

      You should check out the Documentary, Darkon, it is about LARPing which is different but has a similar feel to it. The film is actually quite good and while they are only playing roles, I felt myself pulling very hard for the underdogs in the film.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I belong to the SCA (East Kingdom) and I have made mead for nearly 20 years. You might want to add both Darkon and Markland to your list. Both are quasi-historical reenactment clubs. In fact, my husband wrote the rule book for Darkon (which has been published and resides in the Library of Congress.)

    • DanMoriarity LM profile image

      DanMoriarity LM 6 years ago

      @CuAllaidh: It certainly does. Maybe they shoudl try re-enacting different periods of history rather than just reading baout them. No doubt the message would sink in a little more. Actually my brother in law had his grade 8 class re-enact the Battle of Vimy Ridge in the gym with dodge balls for weapons as well as various props and the corresponding percentage of troops on each side. Now that would've been fun!

    • publicdomain lm profile image

      publicdomain lm 6 years ago

      @CuAllaidh: Thanks! I'll have to check out the local SCA!

    • CuAllaidh profile image

      Jeff Johnston 6 years ago from Alberta Canada

      @publicdomain lm: The SCA in my area has a very active Samurai component. Since the SCA covers anyone in contact with Europe pre 17th century Samurai's qualify.

    • publicdomain lm profile image

      publicdomain lm 6 years ago

      Very neat! Are there any reenactments that involve samurais? My kid would love that.

    • CuAllaidh profile image

      Jeff Johnston 6 years ago from Alberta Canada

      @BestRatedStuff: Formal education has a way of ruining things like history and literature...

    • profile image

      getmoreinfo 6 years ago

      Historical reenactments are really cool.

    • BestRatedStuff profile image

      BestRatedStuff 6 years ago

      Maybe not a geek, but enjoy it very much now. Hated it in school though!

    • profile image

      JZinoBodyArt 6 years ago

      I hope you will continue adding to this lens. Great idea!

    • Tiggered profile image

      Tiggered 6 years ago

      I have a two meter longbow standing in my bedroom :) Used to do some reenactment a few years ago. Great fun!

    • CuAllaidh profile image

      Jeff Johnston 6 years ago from Alberta Canada

      @Tiggered: Nice... love longbows. I have a 35# fiberglass recurve, but one of these days I'll spring for a nice wooden longbow :D

    • DaveGSE profile image

      DaveGSE 6 years ago

      I dont reenact but if I did I'd reenact last wednesday. Pretty good day. Yeah. (Y)

      Nice lens btw....

    • goldenrulecomics profile image

      goldenrulecomics 6 years ago

      nice lens. We saw reenactors do the Battle of Hastings in England one year and it was quite impressive!

    • emmaklarkins profile image

      emmaklarkins 6 years ago

      Didn't know there were so many groups. Thanks for sharing!

    • CuAllaidh profile image

      Jeff Johnston 6 years ago from Alberta Canada

      @anonymous: It is fun, its quite an experience to be at an event and participating

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      This looks like fun.

    • CuAllaidh profile image

      Jeff Johnston 6 years ago from Alberta Canada

      @flycatcherrr: Yes with it being 2012 this year and thus the bicentenial of the war of 1812 there are a lot of 1812 events being planned this year, and many of them are bigger and better than they've ever been. I'm looking forward to going to some in my area this year :D

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 6 years ago

      I've always thought reenactment would be great fun, and this is a perfect time to get in with the War of 1812 groups, isn't it? You tempt me... :)


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