From Iceland — For The Love Of All Things Medieval

For The Love Of All Things Medieval

Published March 14, 2024

For The Love Of All Things Medieval
Catherine Magnúsdóttir
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Sword nerds unite at the Society for Creative Anachronism

Hear Ye, Hear Ye! I bear thee news of much rejoicing for a new column graces these fine parchment pages, questing for the most notorious of folks and their realms of knowledge and skill, their interests of speciality! And what better way to herald in such a quest than by presenting you, dear reader, with a person that could be found dressing and shooting like Robin Hood and who can wield a rapier blade as well. I have sought the counsel of Paul O’Brien, the seneschal of the local Society for Creative Anachronism, to tell you more about applied enthusiasm for medieval practices — sans leeches.

Admittedly, the name of the organization doesn’t give much away, but in essence it is a club for people interested in practical medieval history. Paul tells me that includes revels, big events where people get to dress up in medieval attire, maybe sing and dance, or craft, make things like candles or entire costumes, or even learn how to encrypt messages like old nobles did.

“I joined SCA back in Ireland about 23 years ago,” Paul explains, “just for archery at the time and then once I got more involved and saw how fun fencing was and all the arts and crafts I got involved in pretty much everything. At the time Ireland was one big group, but it split into smaller ones across the country as it was growing and I started running the website. Then I became a local archery marshall and then the local captain of archery, then became a knight marshall and then started taking on bigger and bigger roles, like treasurer for the ‘kingdom.’”

There are a lot of medieval terms that are still applied when it comes to functions and titles, like heralds, laurels, knights and masters of defense or fencing, but also for groups. “We’re what’s called a shire — the Icelandic one is called Klakavirki — which is a local group belonging to a principality spanning the British isles and Iceland,” Paul explains. “So, it’s England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Iceland. And we have the titular heads for that — a prince and princess — who are part of a larger European kingdom called Drachenwald, which has a king and queen.”

Paul moved to Iceland about four years ago, wanting to help boost the local shire. It was initially revitalized by Nik Whitehead, then teaching at the University of Akureyri, after the original group (made up of personnel from the US Naval base in Keflavík) left. Klakavirki 2.0 then started including more locals and has been going ever since. “That’s where we got a lot of the people that are still members to this day,” Paul tells me, “so it was her who really restarted it all off. And some of the ones that she trained up have now been queens of Drachenwald as well.”

But given that the local group was still quite small, the shire started working with the local Historical European Martial Arts group to train different fencing styles together and share a training hall, eventually creating an overlap in members. After all, if you’re already a sword nerd, why not expand your repertoire? You might even make more friends.

“A lot of people join the SCA for the activities but stay for the people,” Paul says.” It’s a family you choose. Old farts like me get older and start to break down, we can’t run everything forever all the time, so fresh blood brings fresh enthusiasm to the rules and hopefully also fresh ideas and stuff they want to do which is then also a way for me to learn and try new things as well. I don’t know everything and there are people that are walking encyclopedias on medieval dance for instance or Gregorian chants and stuff like that.”

Luckily there are also plans for more events this year, like a troll hunt in spring, the Revel of the Midnight Sun in June and some outdoor archery in the summer with old school medieval bows — if anyone’s interested in finding a new special interest.


Keep up with the On The Fringes series here.

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!

Skjaldborg Calling

Skjaldborg Calling


Show Me More!