Keeping it real – or as real as it can be!

Rosalie with her tent and a fellow re-enactor at History Alive: A Journey Through Time

Rosalie with her tent and a fellow re-enactor at History Alive: A Journey Through Time

Going to historical events is fun! The displays, the costumes, the food the atmosphere!

One of the most popular things for members of the public to do is to visit the camps and see what’s going on- see a lunch being prepared over the campfire, wood being turned on a lathe, sewing and craft activities. It looks like a little slice of history. What a lot of people don’t realise is how much effort and research happens before the public gets to see it.

Lunchtime? Those knives and plates are all the correct ones – many based on museum finds. The pottery cups? The colour of the glaze and the patterns on them are specifically chosen to match the time period, right down to the type of clay used to make them.

The ingredients used for the lunch itself depends on what was available at that point in history. The recipes themselves are researched and the same as those used hundreds of years ago. A German 15th century group will be lunching on some very different food to the 12th century English Knights.

People often ask about the clothing, and where it comes from, and very often, that too, has been hand stitched using the same construction methods that were used back then. Buttons might be hand-made. Even the lacing on the dresses is likely to be made by hand using skills from history.

Rosalie with fellow re-enactors at History Alive: A Journey Through Time

Rosalie with fellow re-enactors at History Alive: A Journey Through Time

All this is not very obvious at first glance, because it looks “right” and cohesive, but there’s a lot of work behind the scenes researching 14th century tableware for a noble or what kind of chair is right in 16th century Italy. You might not notice if everything fits together in our displays, but you sure can tell when things are wrong.

So, next time you’re passing a camp, look close, then closer. Come on in and ask some questions about what you’re looking at, who made it  and where the stuff comes from.

Why do we do it? It’s our passion. We’re trying to keep it real. Or as real as it can be.

Rosalie is a 14th Century re-enactor with re-enactment group Ex Libris. She also runs her own blog: Rosalie’s Medieval Woman – if you want to know how people of the 14th Century really lived, stop by and check out what goodies she has for you!