Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Resources: Reenactment Societies

Research has been a hot button topic for me lately. Sounds like it should be a misnomer - research as a hot issue? Yes, strangely enough. After reading On Falcon's Wings, a few people have asked about the research process itself. British history is very accessible, even for the Middle Ages. One of the best resources I've found for research isn't in history books. If you want to see living history, find out about reenactment societies.

There are hundreds of reenactment societies across the globe, covering everything from the classical Roman Age to the World War II period. Of course, some of the best societies on the Anglo-Saxon and later Norman periods are found in England. The members of these organizations have a detailed knowledge of the period and society, everything from costuming to weaponry, foods and customs. Groups like Regia Anglorum immerse themselves in the Anglo-Saxon and earlier Viking age, and offer the historical novelist a wealth of information and detail that supports historical record. Regia Anglorum also maintains a permanent site at Wychurst in Kent, offering views of Anglo-Saxon village life.

Groups like Regia also participate in reenactments of famous battles, including the Anglo-Saxon defeat at Hastings. It's an event sponsored by the English Heritage society. Each October in the second weekend of the month closest to the October 14 date of the battle, reenactors gather at Battle Abbey to recreate the Hastings battlefield. And those damn Normans win every time! Boo! It was held this past weekend, and I am so jealous of everyone who got the chance to go and be part of living history. The Guardian has posted some great images online about the event, in which 350 reenactors participated. Check out this photo: if this guy didn't have brown hair, he would be my Edric in On Falcon's Wings. He's got the animal skin on and everything.

If you want to enhance the authenticity of your historical novel, reenactment societies can be a great help. You can find a list of them here.


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