Shire Des Forges is a local branch of The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), a non-profit educational organization devoted to learning and teaching about how people lived in the Middle Ages (before 1600) while having great fun at the same time. We are the kids who used to daydream about Robin Hood’s adventures and enjoyed Monty Python’s Holy Grail movie just a bit more than most. Now that we have grown up, we have found something better than just deaming… the SCA! We reenact armored fighting, medieval dancing, feasting, and medieval arts & sciences. We subscribe to a code of chivalry and courtesy which is far too absent in everyday life. We have kings and queens, scribes, musicians, artisans, knights in more-or-less shining armor, and a huge bunch of fun. Come join us!
Before you ask – no, the SCA is not a Renaissance Fair. Those are paid entertainments where you wander and watch but don’t get involved, like a circus or an air show. We enjoy being involved in the history, learning the hands-on skills of the artisans, donning armor because we need it for the tournament we’re competing in… the difference is that we learn and create the fun for ourselves! Our historical re-creation gatherings are called “events”, often held at a rented church camp or state part, where we can live in the middle ages for a day, a weekend, or at special events a week or two. At a typical event there will be knights and squires in armor having tournaments, a royal court where soveriegns present prestigious awards to recognize outstanding accomplishments, a sumptuous candlelight feast, music making (bardic circle, a kind of medieval jam session), and a grand revel (a ball with dancing and merry-making). In between all this, there are often period games being played, merchants with authentic wares, classes on many different topics, and so much more. It’s a blast!
This whole thing began as a very special theme for a birthday party in 1966 – a “Grand Tournament” in the finest Medieval tradition! The attendees had such a great time that someone asked “When can we do this again?” and that Grand Tournament has developed into the huge international organization it is today. Our “Known Worlde” is divided into twenty kingdoms, mostly in North America but also spreading to Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Antarctica, and even the International Space Station! There are now well over 20,000 paid members, and probably many times that number who participate without a membership (you don’t have to be an SCA member to be involved, but it helps!).
In Alabama, we are located in the Kingdom of Meridies (pronounced muh-RID-ee-ays, a Latin word for South), which encompasses Alabama, Georgia, most of Tennessee, and the panhandle of Florida. We are ruled by a king and queen who change every six months, based on the winner of our Crown Tournament. Within the kingdoms are larger and smaller types of groups – Baronies, Shires, Cantons, and Colleges to name a few. Here in Trussville, Alabama, we are a medium sized local chapter (shire). Our name, Shire Des Forges, translates as the Shire of the Forge, which recognizes the regions roots in the iron and coal industries.
On this page, you’ve seen some weird names… they’re just part of the fun. Members adopt a “persona”, similar to a character in a play but one of their devising who lived in the time and place of their interest, and they are known in the SCA by that name as a way to help preserve the atmosphere of living in another time while at our events. Members can also create and register a unique heraldic “device” – you know, the design shown on a Knight’s shield which was like their trademarked logo back in the day. The device for our group is at the top of the page. If you see it at an event you know our group is there. It includes a torch in remembrance of the torch once held proudly by the statue of Vulcan in neighboring Birmingham, and also represents the light of learning which guides our path.