NEW MEMBER'S DIARY 2011-2012
First Event: 08th October 2011
Shortly after joining, I enthusiastically started to build a shield, it seemed straightforward enough,
but after a few weeks I still only had random pieces of wood which would be as useful as deflecting
blows as a cumbersome ironing board. My first event was the Cranborne Chase Woodfair on the
second weekend in October, three weeks after joining. I still had zilch in the way of period kit, but
Alan, with whom I’d been liaising since joining, said there would be equipment to borrow when I
arrived at Cranborne Chase. So all I had to do was get there.
Easier said than done, the postcode on the Fayre’s web-site took me to the village of Cranborne,
and it was only by asking in a friendly pub that I knew how to proceed at all. The directions the
pub’s patron gave me had more twists and turns than Hampton Court maze but with the aid of a
hastily scribbled, yet very informative map, I soon found myself following AA signs, only now did
I dare breathe easy. The signs directed me to a farm, and after a moments hesitation, I ventured
further into the darkness until I found a campsite. It was now pitch black and I was still not too sure
that I was in the right place. I parked the car and ventured into the darkness, focusing on one of
many small campfires and approached it with caution — although not enough caution to prevent
myself from walking straight into a rope which was cordoning off a part of the field. I eventually
found someone and asked if he knew where Regia Anglorum were.
“Yes”, he said, “We’re here!”
The next few hours saw me get acquainted with some of the members, including Alan, over a pint
of some seriously strong cider that flowed in this corner of Dorset. After the cider, we turned in for
the night, I slept in a flimsy plastic tent, which meant I was a good five minute walk from the rest of
the Regia members, who had pitched in the “authentic” section with their period tents.
Between 7 and 9 the following morning, I helped Alan make cups of coffee (very important), helped
Ketil erect the wyc — the epicentre for Sceaftesige activity — and got to know a few of the other
members including two who were still feeling the affects of too much cider the night before.
At 9, ropes were used to demark the boundary between 21st
-century Cranborne Chase and 11th
Lamerwic, the name of this village set in the Domesday year of 1086. I was still in 21st
garb so was ejected from Lamerwic like a piece of unwanted garbage. Alan soon prepared
some clothes for me, and I was allowed momentarily to dart into his authentic tent to change.
My t-shirt, trousers and all accessories (wallet, keys, mobile phone and the like) were discarded in
a corner of the tent. Instead I wore a linen tunic, some woollen trousers and leather shoes. The
shoes were made by Alan himself and were comfortable enough when walking on grass, although
gravel was unpleasant enough to make me think twice before attempting a journey to the port-a-loos
situated in a gravel-rich car-park. On top of the linen tunic, I wore one of Ketil’s old woollen
tunics, complete with blood stains from some previous altercation in which he no doubt came off
the better. This was a welcome addition, as it was still rather nippy. The trousers were a size
100, and the pull-cord required a lot of adjusting before I convinced them to stop falling down. I
helped the trousers by securing around my waist one of Alan’s leather belts. Finally, a yank on the
woollen tunic allowed it to drape over the belt, thus mostly obscuring it, in what is currently believed
to be the style of the age.
I was now a fully clad 11th
-century individual, and stepped from the tent a citizen of the village of
I was not yet a warrior, for the 21st
-century health and safety rules meant that proof of my self
control with a 9-foot spear was first required. I had never held a spear before, apart from a
short Tanganyikan assegai which decorates my parent’s house, and so was completely new to
everything involving fighting with mêlée weapons. Because of this, I was expecting to be a non-fighting
Lamerwic serf for the whole of the weekend.
I had met Kettlewell the Elder (Paul) in the cider tent,
and once he had got over his hangover, he suggested I get to know the basics with him. The first
thing he went over was the target areas, unlike true Dark Age combat, the head, joints and lower
legs are no-go, or no-stab, areas. This is for obvious safety reasons and to preserve Regia’s
membership, which could otherwise be adversely affected. He invited me to stab his hand with the
spear I was now holding, and I did so, getting his hand with the lightest of taps unless he held it by
his head or some other no-stab area. Half an hour of this was enough for me to learn the basics.
At 10:30 there was a training session in the central arena, both Kettlewells and many others went
to entertain the public, but I was not yet ready, so Alan used this time to take me out of the way
and have another session with him. An hour later, I felt more at home with the spear and Alan was
convinced I wasn’t a liability on the field.
The decision was not his, however, and the Master-at-Arms, a charismatic warrior straight out of
some heroic Hollywood legend said it would have to wait until to-morrow.
In the meantime, I had to watch the main battle from the sidelines with another newbee — Jess —
and help with the collection of firewood from a nearby copse.