ADVICE TO BEGINNING VIKING-AGE REENACTORS 4
Discuss Modern Politics or Religion (except to show contrasts between modern and period politics and religion)
This is especially important if your society is a NFP charity!
It should go without saying that modern politics has nothing to do with reenactment until a candidate notes how improper it is (like US Republicans did with a Democratic challenger who plays World of Warcraft or the Democrats did with Republican who once dressed as a Nazi [though they were displeased with the Nazi impression and not with reenacting per se]). Hopefully, your reenacting society is not a modern political debating society as well!
However, religion has as much to do with reenactment. After all, the Catholic Church of the time was considerably different from that which exists today, let alone the Protestant, the Mormon and the Scientology churches, and the status of Judaism and Islam was very different, especially when it has been conjectured that there were Jewish and Muslim Norse Vikings (converting so they could trade more easily with these peoples). Even the modern Asatru movement is based upon a modern interpretation and probably has little to do with period heathenism!
It is admissible to talk about the faith of your impression—and every reenactor should have some idea of what the faith of the time was like—but keep it separate from modern faith when speaking with MoPs!
Buy Too Many of the Exact Same Items
Not merely personally, but you should avoid getting the same thing as your mates if they will all be displayed in the same or adjacent areas. For the most part, the era of the Viking Age was not a cookie cutter age. Everything was slightly different and did not look like everything else of that sort. Things were mainly hand made and not manufactured, using the technology that we have today to make everything the same. Even items that were mass-produced, for example in a mould, no doubt differed slightly fromever other product of tht same mould. Seeing the same item in camp site after camp site is giving everyone an inaccurate view of the past!
There sometimes seems to be a tendency to make reproductions, not merely replicas. For our purposes, a reproduction is an exacting duplicate of an original; a replica is an approximate duplicate which differs from the original but that maintains many of the artifact’s specifics and doesn’t violate of them but is a hand-made artifact of its own.
I try to make replicas. That means that every item I produce is unique; it probably differs slightly from any other. It isn’t meant to be different, and I just take no pains to make an exacting duplicate. Even items that were mass produced—we have period moulds for casting jewelry, for example—were slightly different because they were each finished individually and by hand. Therefore, the objects in your camp should not look as if they came from cookie cutters. There should be a variation, end products that are made with a varying amount of skills. Having everything look the same does not give a realistic view of the past.
Even when purchasing instead of making items, there is a tendency toward having everything alike. That is because there is an understandable tendency by vendor to provide items that are exactly the same. There is no other way to make money without using modern manufacturing methods! That does not mean that you have to buy an artifact that looks like the artifact that everyone else has. Patronize workers who personally make unique and hand-made items. Not only are you supporting their efforts, but you are making your set-up look more unique!
Buy Anything That You Don’t Research
In all eras of reenacting, this is a common admonition. Unless you are looking for something to display on your mantle, don’t just buy things because they are glitzy or attractive to you. When shopping for an artifact to buy, research it and see how close it is to originals. Many societies urge newcomers to go shopping only with an experienced old hand—but even these sorts of folk might be vulnerable to reenactorisms and ignorance. Our group has a shopping guide, where photos of artifacts illustrate knives, pottery so forth. A copy is essential when walking around, looking at vendors’ wares!
Buy an Object That Cannot Be Customized
Hardly anything sold is 100% accurate, and most things have to be customized or altered in some way. When you see an item you want or need but which is slightly inaccurate but which it is within your ability to make accurate, do not hesitate. Think of it as a new project!
To get an idea of what one society requires for an accurate portrayal of the past, see Regia Anglorum’s Authenticity Regs
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