To some of its residents, the Kenai Peninsula is known as the Shire of Hrafnafjordr — or, in the English translation of the old Norse word, “Ravensfjord.” Local members of the Society for Creative Anachronisms, who research and engage in lifestyles from the past by living (some of the time) as personae from eras prior to 1650, gathered in the Soldotna Public Library on Saturday to introduce their group to the curious.
Events at the gathering included an English peasant dance, tasting of bread made from medieval recipes, displays of medieval calligraphy and weaving, sword-fighting demonstrations (using wooden swords wrapped in padding, which “still leave a bruise,” according to leather-armored fighter Bill Leslie, dueling as Ronan of Wintersgate) and a royal court.
The royalty present were Prince Shawn and Princess Arabella, known in the common world as Shawn and Laura Denny, of the Principality of Oertha – an administrative region of the SCA that includes all of Alaska. Within the Principality of Oertha, SCA members are organized into Baronies and Shires, depending on the number of members.
Baronies are larger than Shires. The Kenai group is a new Shire — or rather, a revival of an old one. Gretchen Thomas, who portrays the 17th century Italian noblewoman Lady Margarita, said she helped organize the original Kenai SCA group, the Shire of Greycliffs, in 1997.
Greycliffs changed its name to Ravensfjord before losing membership and becoming inactive in 2010. Peninsula resident SCA members are now attempting to revive their Shire with new recruits. Thomas traveled from Anchorage to participate in the event in Soldotna, at which SCA members hoped to attract interested locals.
When asked what had first attracted her about living as a late Renaissance Italian, Thomas said “it was the clothes.”