The Dawn of SCA Architecture

This article was originally published in Tournaments Illuminated, Issue 106. It was written by Count Arturus.


 In recent years, the standards for period camping have evolved to a higher plane. Ambitious re-creators have begun to combine technical complexity with historical detail to generate period settings that speak directly to the soul.

Figure 1. A reconstruction of South Cadbury Castle, a British hill fort that was re-fortified around A.D. 500. This project became the Trimaris royal encampment at Pennsic XIX, and was designed and constructed by Baron Master Geoffrey of Trimaris and the author.
Figure 1. A reconstruction of South Cadbury Castle, a British hill fort that was re-fortified around A.D. 500. This project became the Trimaris royal encampment at Pennsic XIX, and was designed and constructed by Baron Master Geoffrey of Trimaris and the author.

Witness the dawn of SCA architecture.

Pennsic XXI marked a coming of age for the art and science of re-creation architecture. Quietly, without trumpet blowing, grant writing, or National Endowment for the Arts disputes, portable, period architecture has become part of our Society experience. Yet, in our race to construct the biggest, the best, the most elaborate projects, we have seldom paused to consider where all this hammering and paint splattering will lead.

My experiences with reconstruction suggest that the architectural movement will bring about fundamental changes in our approach to persona, our sense of “authenticity” and our understanding of the ancient mind. Architecture has the power to change behavior. Any period space, created with reverence for the original historic setting, offers a window into the everyday secrets of the past. Architecture makes us part of the show, allows us to enter an alternate world of presence, where sacred space becomes inviolable.

Figure 2. This two-thirds scale replica of the white horse of Uffington, a chalk figure in Southern Britain, appeared on the hill overlooking the main battlefield at Pennsic XXI. It remained there throughout the battle and vanished the next day.
Figure 2. This two-thirds scale replica of the white horse of Uffington, a chalk figure in Southern Britain, appeared on the hill overlooking the main battlefield at Pennsic XXI. It remained there throughout the battle and vanished the next day.

The Pennsic War has provided a needed focal point. The great gathering this year attracted what was likely the largest collection of portable medieval structures in the world—pavilions, towers, castles. The Pennsic Daily Tidings published an article strictly for camp tourists wishing to visit the architectural wonders erected at the war. The East Realm, Meridies, Trimaris and many other groups built enormous, complex, often stunning gates.

As we look to the future, we may soon cross another threshold of Society architecture—that of shared symbols.

Figure 3. Reconstruction of a fifth-century thatched cottage from Mona (Anglesey). Designed and constructed by the author and Countess Hilary of Aranmor.
Figure 3. Reconstruction of a fifth-century thatched cottage from Mona (Anglesey). Designed and constructed by the author and Countess Hilary of Aranmor.

Through art and architecture we have a chance to probe the ancient mind, to test the impact of shrines and monuments, white horses and standing stones. The ancients understood the power of form. The images they chose had deep meaning. With diligence and vision, perhaps we can learn something of their mysteries, and bring to life again those secrets that have been lost.

 

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