The tournament competitors use an honour system to determine when they take a fatal blow in combat.(Neil Corbett/The News)

The tournament competitors use an honour system to determine when they take a fatal blow in combat.(Neil Corbett/The News)

Maple Ridge goes back to the Middle Ages

A medieval society gets back in action after pandemic interruption

Once through the COVID screening, you could step back in time at the Albion Fairgrounds and into the Middle Ages on Saturday afternoon.

There were some 200 people dressed in authentic medieval regalia for an event hosted by the Society for Creative Anachronism. They shot arrows, threw spears and knives, and warriors in armour battled.

The event was a coronet tournament – they competed for the right to the to be the prince of the principality of Tir Righ (pronounced “teer ree”), which is in the Kingdom of An Tir. That’s an area that includes B.C., Washington, Oregon and Idaho. It’s one of the largest of the 20 SCA kingdoms around the world, explained Kheron.

Kheron is his society name, and everybody was calling him that Saturday. But most day he’s known as Richard Bertrand. The Surrey resident wasn’t one of the 35 men and women who were entered to fight in the tournament – he’s been prince a few times already, and instead offered a tour of this unique event.

The fighting is with authentic-looking armour, but the swords are not metal, and hits are scored on an honour system – they combatants fall dramatically to the floor, to acknowledge their opponent has just done them in.

There were also contests in target archery, and thrown weapons – spears, knives and axes. Men dressed in capes and women who could pass as Maid Marian heaved spears and flipped knives at bullseyes.

Their gatherings are about more than just combat sports from the Middle Ages, Kheron explained. The society people hold courses in designing clothing and artwork from the time.

“All of us have some level of love of history,” explained Porzia – who is also Leanne Witherly of Abbotsford. She was greeting people coming in at the COVID screening tent, dressed in an outfit last seen in the Italy of 1560. Beside her was a woman in dress from 1400 England.

She said people in the society were excited to resume their hobby in person – the last coronet tournament was more than two years ago. Friends from all over the kingdom got together.

“When COVID isn’t slowing us down, there can be a lot of different events,” she said.

A local man in the tournament was Sir Griffin – Maple Ridge’s own David Jackson, who was getting compliments on his new shield design.

He’s never won the tournament, but said it was just great to put his armour on again.

“I’m a little rusty,” he said, offering a little knight humour.

He said the fighting is “flashy,” but there are numerous other activities in the SCA.

“There’s something for everybody. These are people from all walks of life, and from all over.”

His wife Janice, whose medieval alter ego is Caitrin, is a seamstress who creates linen tunics with detailed needlepoint and woven trim, which she sells at the event.

“I’ve always been interested in history, and knights in armour, ever since I was a little kid,” Sir Gritton said.

“I enjoy being immersed in history, and it’s hanging out with people with a similar interest. They become your family.”

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Sir Griffin is David Jackson of Maple Ridge. (Neil Corbett/The News)

Sir Griffin is David Jackson of Maple Ridge. (Neil Corbett/The News)