Forward Into the Past
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Previous Suggestions

12th century Clothing Styles
The basic garments worn in the 12th century and their variations depicted in Romanesque art and described in period literature.
Speaker: Elise Kingston

12th century Dress Accessories
So you've got the clothes and you've got the hat. This class is a discussion of the finishing touches for a 12th century outfit - shoes, belts, jewelry and bags.
Speaker: Elise Kingston

12th century Hair Styles
A discussion of women's hairstyles & headdresses found in Romanesque art. Suggestions for how to wear your hair in a period fashion given the challenges of modern hair. There will be a limited amount of materials on hand if participants wish to experiment with styles and methods.
Speaker: Elise Kingston

Archery Equipment for Beginners
We will look at the basics of Bowbuilding, Fletching and the tools and resources required to do both. Q&A on this subject, if time permits.
Speaker: Michael Kleinknecht

Black Death
Starting in 1347, Europe was ravaged repeatedly by widespread epidemics of what is commonly thought to be bubonic/pneumonic plague, epidemics which killed off around one third of Europe's population in only a few years. But comparisons of plague's present day patterns of spreading with the pattern of spread recorded in historical resources have shown the two patterns to be dissimilar. As a result, it has been suggested that whatever disease Europe suffered in the great dyings of the late 1300's was not plague but something else completely (as of yet unknown) while the epidemics of the 1500's onwards were plague as it presents today. This class will look at this argument and the evidence presented for both cases, highlighting in the process the difficulties of doing historical epidemiology.
Speaker: Gary Van Lingen

Box Building (2 hours)
Class will learn how to build a kit box / sitting bench consistent with an English box seen in Chaucer's England. Kits containing: 1 @ 8' x 10" x 1" pine board, 25 @ #2 1 1/2" wood screws, 1 @ 1/2" dowel of any wood (one foot of this will do), and hinges will be available for those who wish to be hands-on in this class.
Kit will cost $25.00 if provided by the teacher, but participants are welcome to bring their own materials. There will also be a larger kit available at $35.00. Please contact for more information.
Speaker: Nicholas West

Building a Viking Ship Model
A Boat for the Burning.
A ceremony of honour and respect for departed warrior, credited to the Norsemen, was the burning or burial of his ship at his death. Most often, it was a cremation, with the dead man's remains on board, though there seems to have been at least one instance in which a ship was buried with no body aboard--perhaps because the man was lost at sea. (Sutton Hoo Burial) In the SCA, we have begun an annual tradition of burning a boat in miniature, in memory of all those departed from among us. The ship is built in 1/12 scale, and, through its yearly incarnations, is slowly evolving to become closer to the style of construction of the true Viking longship. This class is a lecture on the problems and procedures used in the ship's construction. It should be of help to those wishing to create models of their own, or simply of interest to those wishing to learn of longship construction.
Speaker: Gary Snyder

Carving (2 hours)
Primarily geared to woodworkers, but applicable to carving in soapstone. This is intended as a workshop for individuals who have a project on the go or want to start a project, but could use a bit of help with the carving. Bring your project or your drawings, some sample materials provided for practice purposes. I will have some 'loaner' chisels available for the class but recommend that you bring what tools you have.
Speaker: J Caz Bentley

Chainmail - Second Steps (2 hours)
Beyond the basics: mail is the most versatile, flexible armour ever developed. Able to be shaped to every part of the human form mail can also be the basis for wonderful jewelry. In this class some different chain patterns will be discussed. A basic understanding of mail is required. Bring two pair of pliers. This class has two teachers who will be offering two different areas of focus. In addition to more complex patterns with standard rings this session will explore the use of smaller rings, or precious metal rings in decorative patterns and jewelry.
Speaker: Jerry Penner

Chainmail for Beginners
Why was chainmail the ultimate armour for warriors for over a thousand years? So versatile, it is still in use today. Historical background, ‘how to’, and ‘hands on’. Please bring two pairs of pliers.
Speaker: Jerry Penner

Children's Interactive Activities
A chance to learn medieval games and embroidery. More details will be posted.
Speakers: Christine Olliffe, Tina Gaston

A survey of the development of codes and cyphers from the classical period through the middle ages and renaissance. Includes handout.
Speaker: Steven Strang

Early Period Beaded Necklaces
Open discussion on the individual parts to a Viking Era necklace. This includes beads, rare stones, plaques, and strings. Join in to bring your knowledge and insight to one of the most used but misunderstood pieces of jewelry in the SCA.
Speaker: Jean Ross

Egg Tempera Painting (2 hours)
No Description Exists
Speaker: J Caz Bentley

Europeans in Japan
In this class we will look at the influences of Europe from their discovery of Japan in 1543 to their expulsion in 1636.
Speaker: Brendan Smith

Finger Braiding (2 hours)
Fingerbraiding/weaving has been an active art from likely prior to the 13th century. Some of the first documentation mentioning fingerbraiding occurs in the 1200's. It reached its height by the 16th century and is still practiced in some places today. The laces made by fingerbraiding were used for dress lacings, hair ties, hose ties, clothing trim etc.Fingerweaving its a technique of fiber braiding much like lucet braiding. This class will be a hands-on learning of some simple braiding patterns. Any fiber thread can be used, although something that will not either fray or break is best. There will be supplies available for $1.00 per participant or bring your own.
Speaker: Karina Bates

Flint and Steel Fire Striking
Learn how to build a fire, and light it using flint and steel. This will be a hands on course, where you'll get to try the techniques and practice making fire. Note that this involves "real fire", so breathing smoke and burning your fingers are potential dangers.
Speaker: Mark Patchett

French Beaded Flowers (2 hours)
While extant examples only date as far back as the mid-17th century (in the form of decorations on betrothal baskets), this technique was very likely practiced much earlier.  It is also believed that such flowers were used in cases when fresh flowers were unavailable or unsuitable, such as in winter when fresh flowers were hard to come by.  The potential uses for these items are extensive, ranging from decorations for the home or small objects, hair adornments, jewelry, etc.  This is a hands-on class; participants will receive enough materials to make one or more small basic flowers.  If possible, please bring needle-nosed pliers, and pre-registration is strongly encouraged to ensure enough materials are available.
Class is limited to 10 people.   There is a materials fee of $5 for this class.
Speaker: Jackie Wyatt

Games (2 hours)
This class will provide an overview of the history of games popular in the Middle Ages. The games will be presented in order of development throughout time. For many of the games, time will be given to experiment playing. Come and join us for some fun and games.
Speaker: Jim McColm

Goldwork Embrodiery (2 hours)
Goldwork became most popular during the Elizabethan era, decorating book covers, costume accessories and ceremonial textiles of the rich throughout England and Europe. Significantly few items survive with this technique applied; most having been melted down and reused. In this class a sampler will be created using basic couching techniques. The kit will be sized so the finished product can be made into a sweet bag, small book cover or pin cushion. Intermediate embroidery skills are reccomended for this course. Students will be required to bring the following kit: 10" (or close to it) stretcher frame, scissors that you don't mind being nicked - gold purl eats scissor blades, embroidery scissors, beeswax, pearl head pins, tweezers and a stiletto, if at all possible. Materials fee includes all gilt and imitation goldwork metals, real pearls, fabrics, thread and needles. Preregistration is important so the teacher can have kits ready for the participants.
Class is limited to 8 people.   There is a materials fee of $15 for this class.
Speaker: Kathy Page

Handsewing: period seams and seam finishes
A hands on approach to learning several different seams used on extant garments or from archeological finds.
Speaker: Nina Bates

Herbal Workshop (2 hours)
In this two-hour workshop, we will discuss the use of humors and their application to not only herbology, but the lifestyle of people in the Middle Ages. Then, in groups, you will create your own recipe and make your own something or other. There is a three dollar fee with this course, but you will take home a good sample of your very own concoction.
"O, mickle is the powerful grace that lies - In plants, herbs, stones and their true quantities. For naught so vile that on the earth doth live - But to the earth some special good doth give." - William Shakespeare
There is a materials fee of $3 for this class.
Speaker: Paddy Gillard-Bentley

How to Organize your Research
OK, so you've been to the library, the museum and you've looked on-line. Now you have a pile of research in front of you. What next? We will discuss how to organize all that information into a working document that will expand as your research does. Allowing you to find information quickly when you want to write a paper, do a project or just look something up.
Speaker: Joanne Blumetti

Intermediate Calligraphy (2 hours)
This is a small, intermediate, hands-on calligraphy class in learning/improving blackletter calligraphy (aka Textura Quadrata). I will be teaching using the dip pen method. Please note: there is a chance for ink spills and spatters, please dress accordingly. A prior attempt in any hand, using any method is expected.
Please feel free to bring prior work and practice sheets to share with classmates. Bring your own calligraphy supplies or purchase a kit from me for $10.00. Kits contains:
Brause nibs: 1.0 mm, 1.5 mm
Pen Holder
1 oz. Higgen Black Eternal Ink
15 cm stainless steel ruler
Factis Black Eraser
2H pencil
Small brush
Ruled Practice Sheet
Water Pot
Class is limited to 8 people.   
Speaker: Tamara Manning

Introduction to the Cut-and-Thrust Swordplay of the 15th and 16th Centuries
Sidesword or Spada da Lato has come to describe a style of cut-and-thrust swordplay developed by Italian sword masters such as Agrippa, Marozzo, dall' Agocchie, etc. in the late 15th century and well into the 16th century. Although its techniques were useful on the battlefield, the sidesword (or side-arm) was primarily a civilian weapon. These cut-and-thrust techniques were eventually developed into the primarily thrust oriented styles of the 17th century and later. This class will demonstrate various sidesword techniques (such as grappling, disarming, percussive cuts, etc.), their effectiveness and the reasons they were developed. Those involved in SCA Rapier or Sidesword will also find this class informative.
Speaker: David Stamper

Introduction to the SCA
Calling all newbies! This class will cover everything that you could possibly want to know about the SCA, and will be geared to the interests and experience level of the participants. You will also recieve a booklet to take home with you.
Speaker: Grace Carr

Iron Monks and Steel Lords: Pursuing the Medieval Origins of the Industrial Revolution in Rural Shropshire
No Description Exists
Speaker: Ronald A. Ross, Ph.D.

Iron Smelting - a Practical Guide
This session will review the results of experiments in Viking Era Iron Smelting performed by Darrell Markewitz and members of the Dark Ages Re-Creation Company to date.  The discussion will also cover the techniques involved and what is required to build your own smelter using the "Econo-Norse" design.
Speaker: Darrell Markewitz

Japanese Food History (2 hours)
We'll discuss Japanese food and its evolution throughout the medieval period. We'll also sample some period recipies.
There is a materials fee of $2 for this class.
Speaker: Brendan Smith

Japanese History from 1543-1605
No Description Exists
Speaker: Brendan Smith

Japanese History from 794-1543
No Description Exists
Speaker: Brendan Smith

Knightly Virtues
Fortitude. Faith. Prowess. Prudence. These are just a few of the "knightly virtues"--the qualities that medieval men-at-arms were expected to possess (or at least aspire to.) These qualities became the core of the philosophy of knighthood--often termed the "code of chivalry"--during the High Middle Ages. This class will focus on the evolution of the concept of the knightly virtues in chivalric and religious literature. We will discuss the meaning of each of the virtues in their medieval context, and how the virtues were used as a "cure" against vice. We will also discuss the role of the knight in society--both the ideal and the reality.
Speaker: Susan Carroll-Clark, Ph.D.

Knights Templar, who were they?
This session is a repeat of last year's presentation about the Poor Knights of the Temple of Solomon. It will examine the rise, proliferation and ultimate destruction of the most powerful religious Order in medieval history. Time permitting, the class will also look at some of the legends surrounding the Order and examine the discoveries that have been uncovered in recent history.
Speaker: Nicholas West

Kumihimo - The Art of Japanese Cordmaking (2 hours)
A hands on intro to Kumihimo. Starting with a short history and intro to terms, tools and uses. Participants will then be shown how to set up and create a Kumihimo braid. This class will cover both beginner and some intermediate techniques.
Class is limited to 20 people.   There is a materials fee of $5 for this class.
Speaker: Melanie Robbins

Library Studies
Learning the basics of library research. Some topics that will be covered are library classifications systems, how to read a bibliographic citation, Interlibrary Loans, and basic search strategies for locating material in a library catalogue. We will also learn how to identify and locate the resources needed for your research project. Search strategies will cover both print and electronic resources.
Speaker: Judy McKay

Literacy in Western Europe
This brief overview of a huge subject begins with various definitions of literacy and examining period attitudes towards it, starting with the Greeks and Romans and ending with the Renaissance.
Speaker: Ann Graham

Making Norse Instruments
A practical class on recreating Scandinavian instruments from 1000 AD. No skills are required. There will be a nominal materials fee of $2.
Speaker: Richard Schweitzer

Medieval Experience of Leprosy
The history of leprosy in Europe is a curious one filled with conflicting ideas. It has the rare distinction of having been declared both a sign of sinfulness and a sign of divine blessing which produced confusion in medieval European society. It was also also thought to have been a sexually transmitted disease (it isn't) but which did not necessitate divorce between afflicted and non-afflicted spouses (especially wives). Sufferers, once diagnosed by either doctors or other lepers, were put through a living burial to sever their connection to the world and then sent off to live in special sanctuaries often connected to monasteries or churches. This class will first look at the historical epidemiology of leprosy and its manifestations as found in skeletal populations and records. Then it will look at the social history of leprosy and how this has influenced us today in terms of attitudes and historical geography.
Speaker: Gary Van Lingen

Mongol Invasions
This class will discuss the two attempted invasions of Japan by Kublai Khan and his Mongol Horde. In it, we will talk about the generally accepted theory as to why the invasions did not go as planned and we will dispell some common myths prevalent in this theory.
Speaker: Brendan Smith

Naalbinding - a workshop for Beginners
Come and learn the basics. How to start, 2 basic stitches. Please bring a nalbinding or tapestry needle and some (real) wool. Some materials will be available for those without.
Speaker: Kim McAuley

Naalbinding - a workshop for the More Experienced
I'll show you mine if you show me yours! A round table discussion for the more experienced. Share your favourite stitch and learn others.
Speaker: Kim McAuley

Naalbinding in History
Examine the widespread use of this technique before and during the medieval time period as well as photographs of actual archeological finds. See photos and videos of 3 techniques as well as a handout with photos to help you start out.
Speaker: Kim McAuley

Natural Dyes in Medieval History, a Workshop (2 hours)
This is a continuation of last year's Dyers' Round Table, with the addition of a hands-on component. Each teacher will bring an already prepared dye bath for students to dip a sample into at the beginning of class, and we'll watch the colour changes. We'll talk about each dyestuff - the historical context, tips and techniques for dyeing, and how to grow the plants needed or where to buy commercial dyes. Teachers will bring samples of their previous dye experiments over the years. Handouts will be available.
Speakers: Karen Peterson, Vandy Simpson, Jo Duke, Nina Bates, Sarah Hughes

Ninja and Warrior Monks
In the first half we will take a close look at the enigmatic Ninja as he was in history, not as he has been portrayed by Hollywood. In the second half we will examine one of the lesser known warrior classes of Japan, the fanatical sohei-- the warrior monks.
Speaker: Brendan Smith

Pastimes of the Vikings
"It's all fun and games when someone loses an eye!"
Actually, Norse pastimes tended to be a little less violent than that. This class will cover the basic rules of Tafl, as well as examining other past-times that can be used to fill those long hours of leisure time.
Speaker: Neil Peterson

Pirates of the Elizabethan Era
Pirates, Privateers, Sea Dogs or Gentlemen Adventurers, call them what you will, these intrepid men became the scourge European and Atlantic waters in the late 16th century. This class will examine the history, technology and culture of piracy in the late 16th century, with emphasis on northern European powers like England and France.
Speaker: David Stamper

Plants and Stones
An introduction to Medicinal Herbology. A discusion on how to get started, cautions, a bit about growing/harvesting of herbs, and a sampler of the magic of stones and what they were used for in the middle ages...both healing, and elsewise.
Speaker: Paddy Gillard-Bentley

Playing with Kennings
...or "How to write poetry that no one understands". The home of laughter is a terrible thing to waste, and it is always good to know the difference between one of Odin's oaks and a linden-tree of leeks.
Speaker: Richard Schweitzer

Political Uses of Medieval History
When I was doing my BA in Medieval History, I was often asked "what's the relevance?" I wasn't so sure about it then but now, doing a PhD in geography, I can actually answer that question: "The relevance is what you make of it." Not original, I suppose, but still true. History and collective memory (the popularized version of history if you like) never write themselves but get written by people long after history 'happens'. After all, there is a huge amount of information that must be sifted through to find some way of producing the story of history. The important part is how people writing history produce stories that meet the needs of their present circumstances and anticipated futures. They do this by selecting topics and emphasizing points that best suit the inquiry at hand. Certain people and events in time get used more than others because meaning can be more easily written into them that meets present needs. This is particularly true when conflict arises. This class will look at how certain aspects of medieval history is being used today to justify or explain events and circumstances now taking place. I will first go through the construction of history and, in particualr, collective memory, and then look at two cases: the use of the idea of 'crusade' in Arabic history and rhetoric and how Serbia and Albania attempt or attempted to gain control over the area of Kosovo by making reference to Kosovo's medieval history and its ties to both their cultures.
Speaker: Gary Van Lingen

Portraits and Clothing Design
16th century portraits as an inspiration for costumers. A wide ranging assessment of 16th century portraiture viewed with attention to clothing details.
Speaker: Catherine Ollerhead DeSantis

Practical Trebuchet
If you want to build a mini trebuchet out of popsicle sticks and hot glue then this is the wrong class for you. In this lecture you will obtain thetheoretical and practical knowledge required to design and build your ownSCA legal trebuchet for combat purposes. Lessons will be heavy on math andpractical tips as well as useful resources for more information. Bring pencil and paper, you'll need them.
Speaker: Jerry Penner

Renaissance Era Dance
Come and sweat to the real oldies! A survey of easy dances from a variety of European countries and from the late 14th century to the mid 17th century will be taught. No partner necessary!
Speaker: David Learmonth

Shetland Sheep
The roots of the Shetland Sheep go back over a thousand years, probably to sheep brought to the Shetland Islands by Viking settlers. This breed has exquisite fine fleece in a myriad of colours much prized by hand spinners and weavers. Come learn a bit about this lovely period breed.
Speakers: Alfredo De Santis, Catherine Ollerhead DeSantis

Spinning with Flax - Advanced Drop Spinning
Tired of spinning animal fibres? Ready to take up the challenge of spinning a plant fibre? If so, come join a hands-on class to learn how to spin strick and tow flax. Participants are requested to bring their own drop spindles, a small dish for water, and a smooth tea towel or pillow case to use when "spinning from the fold". Teacher will supply strick and tow flax to spin and informational handouts.
Class is limited to 10 people.   There is a materials fee of $3 for this class.
Speaker: Sarah Hughes

Sprang (2 hours)
Students will warp their loom and begin a small circular sprang project. Previous sprang experience is very helpful. Students should bring their own sprang frame with dowels, 2 balls of medium weight crochet cotton, 2 additional pieces of 1 3/4" dowling cut to 15" length, 1 package of BBQ sticks / skewers. The class is limited to 5 active participants but auditors are welcome.
Speaker: Judy McKay

Survey of Norse Bead Making
Evidence exists for the production of beads at various locations in Scandinavia including Ribe - just not a lot of evidence. This session will review my research to date on the materials used to create those beads both in the viking era norse world and in similar environments. If time permits we will also review the plans for the first in what will wind up being a series of experiments designed to understand the materials and techniques. Please note that this session will not be "everything you need to know to make beads like a viking" - it will address preliminary research and experimental plans. A bibliography will be made available.
Speaker: Neil Peterson

Tablet Weaving for Beginners (2 hours)
A hands-on introduction to tablet weaving.  The participants will be shown how to string up a loom, as well as a few basic techniques and patterns.  Observers are more than welcome.
Speaker: Laura Stein

Textiles 101: Colour and Pattern in Dark Age and Medieval Fabrics
A guide to shoppers. So, you're not a dyer but you'd like to know what kind of colours might be obtainable in the Middle Ages so you can choose the right fabric or embroidery floss. And what about the fabric itself: what fibres were available? what weaves? what patterns?
There is a materials fee of $1 for this class.
Speaker: Jo Duke

The Art of Displaying your Work
You've spent hours on research and in creating the final > project. Now comes the time to show people what you've been spending all of your time on. Whether it be for competition, public demonstration or a display table. We'll talk about ways to display your project to please the eye and draw attention to it's best points and / or it's uses.
Speaker: Joanne Blumetti

Ukrainian Clothing from 1400-1600
An overview of Ukrainian costumes from the Kievan Rus until the Cossack Age. The Ukrainian costume evolved over time and as well being influenced from other culture. This talk will look at the changes as well as recreating them.
Speaker: David Blanchard

Ukrainian Names and Heraldy
Ukrainian to-names became formalised into hereditary last names around the XVIth century. According to scholars of the time there were 5 distinct classifications of last names. Find out what they are. Ukrainian heraldry reflects that of Poland, and not that of Western Europe. Find out how it differs from Western English heraldry.
Speaker: David Blanchard

Wood Working
Dr. Ross will discuss his excavations and associated research at the Upper Forge site. These are challenging the conventional view that the industrial revolution starts in the 18th or 19th Century. The excavation, run by the Coalbrookdale Historical Archaeology Research and Training Programme (CHART) of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, has uncovered the two oldest archaeologically known cementation steel furnaces in the world. Dr. Ross argues that the real origins of industry in the valley lie with the Medieval Priory of Wenlock. The site has also produced considerable evidence for industrial and residential uses from the 17th C onwards, including malting of barley, and copper smelting.
Speaker: Scott Thorburn

Contact us if you have any questions or suggestions