Monday, June 20, 2011

Another good celtic weekend

So the hubby and I spent the weekend at an SCA event called Storvik Novice Tourney. The main focus of the event was for people who are either new to the SCA, or new to a weapons form or art/science. There were Novice Tourneys for rapier and heavy fighters, as well as a novice Arts & Sciences (A&S) competiton.

I entered my mead into the competition, which got really high marks! I came only 1/2 point below the winner, and with no documentation! Documentation shows the research that you did into the period methods and materials of your project. In most competitions it is very important, and I would have won if I had had it.

I also entered my shoes into the competition with extensive documentation, and they got a pretty high score also. Here's a picture of one of my shoes when I first made them:

After all of the tourneys and competitions were over, it was time for the revelry! There was a fire, music provided by Dragon Song, dancing by Mavi and Na'la, and singing by Llyr, Ursus and myself. We had a great time! It was also good to see folks from Preachain's sister clannes, Anglesey and Concusare. Below is a picture of the performers taken by Ursus of Anglesey:

What a great weekend!! Can't wait for Pennsic!


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Individual Prowess

I just finished reading this excellent article about Celtic Warfare. In Ceanag's last post, she mentioned that Celtic "military" organization was almost non-existent, and I wanted to explore that a little bit.

It is speculated that one of the reasons that the Celts, though they came from a society in which small-scale warfare was commonplace and their noble class was a warrior-class, had trouble organizing for large-scale success is because they valued individual prowess and skill over military prowess and skill.

Often, when raiding a neighboring clanne or tribe, instead of openly attacking the enemy on the large scale, they would instead engage in a sort of ritualistic combat, sending out only the best fighters to fight for the honor of their clanne or tribe. Often, these contests of champions ended the skirmish with the winner taking all. Other times, tensions would boil over and a full scale skirmish between the disagreeing clannes would ensue.

Unfortunately, there's not a lot of information available about these ritualistic combats, but you can be sure I'll keep looking!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Warfare and the ancient Celts

One of my favorite parts of reenacting is armored combat. Of course, we don't really go out and fight one another to the death with live steel weapons...but we do try to recreate it as closely as possible without causing injury and death. We do wear armor that meets the standards set forth by the SCA, including a 16 gauge steel helm. But our swords, spears and other weapons are taped-up rattan.

I also like to find out about how warfare fit into ancient Celtic life. From all period accounts (which are mostly Roman), warfare was a very important part of life for the Celts. According to the article "Ancient Celtic Warfare" by Raimund Karl, fighting and raiding were most likely normal parts of Celtic life.

What did the average Celtic Warrior carry?
  • 1-4 spears
  • A large shield made of wood and covered in leather
  • Everyday clothing (tunic and trousers)
Warrios of the Celtic Nobility also carried:
  • Torc
  • Long Sword
  • Leather Armor
  • Leather, Bronze, or Iron Helmet 
  • Chainmail suits (only for the wealthiest, such as Chieftains or Warlords)
There is also documentation that some Celts used Battle Chariots. Celtic battle chariots were different from Roman chariots because the riding platform was not attached to the axle, but instead was suspended by ropes, making the chariot easier to maneuver and fight from. There is documentation that a charioteer would sit in front and drive the chariot, while the warrior stood behind him and fought from the chariot, before dismounting to fight on foot. The charioteer would stay close enough to the warrior to carry him away if he were killed or wounded.

The Celts themselves were fearsome warriors, often engaging in what we would call today "psychological warfare" by painting themselves with woad, putting lyme in their hair, blowing the carnyx (the Celtic version of the war horn- see the picture to the right), singing, clanging their swords against their shields, and generally doing anything they could to think of  to confuse and scare the enemy.

Though the Celts were fearsome warriors, their lack of organization caused them serious problems, especially when facing uber-organized opponents like the Romans.  According to various accounts, Celtic "military" organization was based more on where one came from or which clanne one was affiliated with, rather than skill or the types of weapons carried.

I could go on and on about warfare and the Ancient Celts, but I think I'll sign off now and save some for another day!