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Medieval merriment comes to Cowichan Valley

The Society for Creative Anachronism celebrates 20 years of their annual Tir Righ August Investiture

Our modern world has lost many interesting individuals that once added colour and honour to it like those of the Medieval times, — the knights in armor, swashbucklers, archers, bards, and minstrels. These are just a few of the beloved roles and characters who will revel, triumph and conquer at the Cowichan Exhibition Grounds in Duncan from Aug. 25 to 27 as the Society for Creative Anachronism celebrates 20 years recreating the times of the pre-17th Century with their annual Tir Righ August Investiture from Aug 25 to 27. Those will who attend will travel back to the days of the resplendent Royal Court, when merchants and artisans would sell their medieval wares, and equestrian, siege weapon, and jousting training all part of an honest day’s workout.

READ MORE: VIDEO: En garde! Fight like medieval men with Ascalon Academy in the Okanagan

“The best way to discover history is to live it,” said event organizer Shawna Ayers. “We wear the clothing, eat the food and get as close as we can to experience the times, the best parts of it anyway.”

SCA is worldwide organization devoted to passionate medievalists with several branches within each continent. B.C. falls under the Kingdom of An Tir and Principality of Tir Righ, while the areas of Cowichan Valley is known as the Shire of Hartwood. Every kingdom has a king and queen, and every Principality a prince and princess. These positions are won through armored combat at a Coronet event, and three months later the new royals are crowned at an Investiture. The SCA held its very first Tir Righ Investiture in June 2003 which Ayers of Courtenay, B.C. and Cowichan Valley’s Bobbi Baker both attended, but their love of this lost time period stuck awe in them long before that.

“I first witnessed the SCA as a child at a local annual event held in my town,” said Baker. “It was an event called Clinton War, around 1985. I remember the first thing I saw was a dark man pulling a shining broad sword from its scabbard. I knew then that one day, I had to be part of this magical community. Fast forward, 15 years later, a friend brought me to my first SCA practice where I witnessed rapier combat. The dazzling flash of the sword play and the fancy clothes hooked me and my love affair with the SCA began.”

“Like many, I was in a fantasy role playing group and wanted to experience the fantasy that we understood to be the SCA,” said Ayers. “We found a local event and my friends and I invaded the site. What we expected and what we found were two different things. The knights clashing in the fighting field, people wearing their finest clothing, the camaraderie. It took a few years, but I eventually found a group and went to my first event in November 1999. From there to today…what an adventure.”

Branches take turns hosting annual events, and the honour of celebrating two momentous decades is bestowed upon the Shire of Hartwood, with it’s awe-striking ambience and accessibility to ferries making it the perfect backdrop for medieval merriment. Taking on an old world, comes with taking on new names.

Everyone in the SCA takes on a persona that is researched on a fitting period in history and culture that interests them. Baker used her passion for 16th century England, and the great women of the Elizabethan Court when choosing the name Letitia Cecily Talbott, while Ayers went with a distant part of her own Irish heritage choosing Elphin o Flaithbheartaigh.

“Choosing the 12th Century, I researched appropriate names to that area and chose a clan with a history I found fascinating,” said Ayers. “Many find my name a challenge to pronounce and I’ve thought to change it to a more anglicized version, but the humor in witnessing the struggle fulfills me.”

There will be much fulfillment and fun throughout this epic weekend, while some demonstrations are open to the public, this event is really meant for those looking to participate, and all that is required is paying a flat rate site fee of $35, a medieval costume from the time period of 650 to 1600, and a willingness to have fun. More information can be found on their event web page.

“The opportunity to bring the magic of our hobby to the members of both modern and SCA communities is a joy like no other,” said Ayers. “The most important about the SCA is our acceptance of people. Inclusivity is the backbone of the SCA. We have members from all walks of life participating. My hope is participants find a new or renewed passion for history and a knowledge that there are people out there with the same passions and interests as their own.”

About the Author: Chadd Cawson

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