The Shire of Evercleare

by Richard A. Edwards and Kathy Allen
   The clash of sword on shield. The snapping of pennants in the breeze as they fly above medieval pavillions. The courteous speech of lords and ladies dressed in their medieval finery. Where might you see such a sight? Why, right here in Thurston County! Olympia is home of the Shire of Evercleare, the local branch of the Society for Creative Anachronism. The Society (SCA) is a volunteer group dedicated to research, education, and reenactment of the middle ages.
   Members of the SCA research "personas" or characters, they portray during SCA events. There are historical guidelines for developing a name, historical location, and cultural mannerisms. The diversity of the medieval cultures allows French knights, English yeomen, Welsh archers, Moravian heralds, and Viking housecarls, all in the same group.
   The characters gather at events throughout "The Known World", as that part of the world which has SCA chapters is called. The Known World is divided into several kingdoms. The Northwest region is called the Kingdom of An Tir. Within each kingdom are many shires, colleges, cantons, and baronies. The Olympia, Tumwater, and Lacey area is designated as the Shire of Evercleare (named in the same tradition as Greenland).
   Events can be many things; workshops on correct costuming, fight practices for improving abilities with sword, ax or mace, feasts and revels, and full-scale tournaments. Evercleare holds three major events a year. The first weekend in May they hold Mayfaire, which brings merchants and artisans together at Summit Lake. The fair also includes a tournament-at-arms with SCA fighting in full armor with wooden weapons. During the summer, the shire holds a Summer feast of several courses designed in the medieval manner. December finds the Shire members gathering to celebrate the Yule season at a Winter feast complete with the traditions of the Yule Log.
   SCA fighting is an attempt to recreate the flavor of tournaments and to practice the skills involved in the martial arts as practiced in the European Middle Ages. SCA fighters are armored according to safety regulations, which include steel helmets, body padding, and leather or scale armor. Their weapons, which range from broadsword to great ax, are made of rattan, a pliable wood of the bamboo family (solid instead of hollow). The fights are not choreographed and are true tests of the skill of the opponents. Blows are judged by the contestants as to severity and location. A sufficient blow to a limb results in that limb not being used by the fighter for the duration of the combat. A fierce blow to a vital area results in the loss of the match. Combat between two armored fighters is both fast and furious.

Recommended Magazine 2(7): 28 (May 1986)