Arts & Sciences
Hello, and welcome to Cluain!
We are delighted to welcome all newcomers to our Canton, whether "
immigrants" or visitors from other SCA groups, or people who
have only just encountered the SCA.
This is a short guide for newcomers who have never attended an SCA event before. Hopefully additional guides for immigrants,
visitors, and not-quite-so-newcomers will be added soon. In the meantime,
this page will instruct you in the basics of attending
your first SCA event, and of what to do to begin participating regularly in the
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WHAT IS THE SCA? WHAT IS "CLUAIN"?
The SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) is an international educational and social organisation, focussed on exploring and
recreating the history, skills, and other admirable aspects of the Middle Ages and Renaissance (roughly the Fall of Rome tile
the death of Elizabeth I of England in 1603). It is often said that the SCA recreates the Middle Ages "as they should have
been" - no plagues, slaves, or unfair taxes, and all the benefits of
indoor plumbing. More information may be found here
Cluain is the name of the Hamilton chapter of the SCA. The SCA is organised into Kingdoms (a large geographical area, often
several small countries or a group of states/provinces), Baronies (a small/medium city or part of a larger city), and various
smaller groups, including Cantons (dependent of a Barony), Shires (independent groups), and Colleges (groups based at a modern
University, etc.). Cluain is a Canton based in Hamilton, NZ, and is sponsored (overseen/helped) by the Auckland SCA group, the
Barony of Ildhafn. It has a branch at the University of Waikato in Hamilton, which may grow to become a fully-fledged College in
the future. All NZ SCA groups are part of the Kingdom of Lochac,
which includes all SCA groups in NZ and Australia.
WHAT DO YOU DO AT THE SCA?
Many things! Primarily, we try to learn new things, socialise
with friends, and have fun! Our aims vary from person to person,
but here are some reasons people choose to go to SCA events:
- To relax and have fun
- To try new things
- To challenge myself
- To learn more about a chosen period of history, or history in general
- To take part in Arts & Sciences (arts, crafts, research, performance) from other times and places
- To fight in SCA combat (martial arts such as "heavy" sword fighting or fencing) or do archery
- To aspire to the best of medieval "knightly" virtues, honour, chivalry, and courtliness
- To leave the hectic pace and self-centered commercialism of the modern world behind for a while
- To let my whole family be together in a constructive, supportive, and interesting environment
- To see my friends!
Activites at an SCA event may include educational or interactive classes, marshalled combat, target archery, entertainment, shared
meals (formal or informal), demonstrations of skill or learning, games, competitions, pageantry, and socialising; all to do with
some aspect of the Middle Ages or Renaissance. Everyone is welcome to take part to the best of their ability, and
participation is never compulsory (although some activities - eg, Court/feasts - form such an integral part of the event that
attendance is almost a "given").
WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO TO TAKE PART IN AN SCA EVENT IN CLUAIN?
Turning up to your first SCA event is extremely simple. You may be introduced via a friend who is already a member, you may
locate us via the internet or a display demonstration, you could stumble over Fighters' Practise in your local park, or you might
see a flyer in your local library or community noticeboard. The easiest way to
go about it is:
- Check this website's Calendar or a flyer for the next upcoming event and
decide if it is convenient/appealing/affordable for
- E-mail the Chatelaine (hospitality/newcomer's officer), introducing yourself (and your family if applicable) and stating
that you would like to attend [Event X] and would like some assistance/guidance (for instance, with costume, transport,
finding the event, etc.)
- Find yourself a plain t-shirt (or similar), some dark tracksuit or casual pants/long skirt, and some plain, dark-coloured shoes
to wear to the event. If you contact the Chatelaine ahead of time, some garb (medieval costume) should be found for you to
borrow for the duration of the event. This will usually be a tunic or tabard which can be slipped over your existing clothes,
allowing you to blend in with the other attendees. (Modern items such as wristwatches, cell phones, current jewelry/fashions, etc.
are usually removed or hidden at SCA events, so as not to "jar" the attempt at historical atmosphere.)
- Following the instructions on the website/flyer and/or given by the Chatelaine (or other contact person), go to the event and ask
to speak to the Chatelaine. You may recognise him/her by a badge or sash depicting a gold key on a green background.
- The Chatelaine should welcome you, get you any garb or feasting gear (plates, cutlery, etc.) you may need to borrow for the
event, and introduce you to many of the ladies and gentlemen at the event, including your hosts and the group officers (eg. the
Constable (safety/legality officer), the Chirurgeon (medical officer), and others).
- Sit back, look, listen, join in, enjoy!
SOME HINTS FOR YOUR FIRST EVENT:
- Don't be afraid to ask questions - we were all new once! (Ignorance is NOT stupidity.)
- Be aware that if you hang back, people may assume you wish to be left alone and try to comply with your wishes! If you're shy,
look for someone or something interesting and watch/listen until you feel comfortable enough to join in.
- If you have any areas of the SCA which have attracted your interest (fighting, sewing, cooking, calligraphy, silversmithing,
etc.), be sure to say so - the Chatelaine will be sure to introduce you to any group members who share that interest if it
is at all possible.
- Bring along something to do, like a craft project or relevant book - it doesn't have to be strictly medieval (although computer
games and MP3 players aren't smiled upon!). Having something to
do will keep you occupied and relaxed, and may very well turn out
to be an "icebreaker" to start a conversation with someone.
- Don't be afraid to ask to join in something interesting. While some activities require experience or a "permit", or are too
delicate or complicated for novices, most SCA activities are very easy to try your hand at. Sharing knowledge and skills is a huge
part of the SCA, and most members will be pleased and flattered to be asked!
- Don't worry if things seem overwhelming or confusing; you will get used to it very quickly! Help is only a question away.
- Don't worry too much about seeming out of place. As long as you are courteous
and respectful, any mishaps will be attributed
to unfamiliarity and no offense will be taken.
- Running an SCA event can be a big task. Don't feel alienated if an SCA member appears too busy or distant to spend much time
with you; they are probably "staff" and run off their feet with event business or formal duties. Keep walking - you are sure to
find a group of people relaxing, chatting, eating and drinking, just around the corner. :)
- If the event includes a meal, be SURE to tell the Chatelaine or Steward (event host) about any food allergies you may have when
you book for the event.
- If you hear the word "HOLD!!!" *freeze immediately*. Do NOT move until an all-clear is given. "Hold" means that something
unsafe has happened or may be about to happen (especially in the
combat or archery arenas) and nobody should move until it is
deemed safe to do so.
- Try to keep glaringly modern items and topics to a minimum, as they disrupt the mood for many people.
- The SCA is based on attitudes of respect, courtesy, diligence, and responsibility. If anything at all makes you feel concerned,
uncomfortable, or upset, tell the Chatelaine (or another group officer, a friend, or your host/ess) immediately. We will do
everything in our power to resolve the issue and make you feel at home.
The SCA is a family-oriented organisation, and there are young members in the Society who are third- or even fourth-generation
SCA members! We welcome families of all types and sizes. However, any children present are the responsibility of their
parents/guardians. An event site is a busy and sometimes potentially dangerous place (although all care is taken to make
it as safe as possible, some hazards are inevitable), and we can't guarantee your children will be adequately supervised out
of your presence. Be aware of where your children are at all times.
Teens and young people who attend the SCA without a parent or guardian present
are encouraged to collect the pamphlet
"Teenagers and the SCA: some answers for parents" from the Chatelaine, or to download it from
here. If parents
have any concerns or questions about their teen's involvement in
the Society, they are welcome to contact the Chatelaine, to
attend an event themselves, and/or to be introduced to any adult SCA members who have specific, ongoing and regular contact with
To ask about attending your first event, or to ask questions about the content of this page, contact the
Thank you for your interest - we are sure you will enjoy your contact with the Canton of Cluain!