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Introduction and Background

DARC seeks to create an environment that stresses historic re-creation of the Viking Age through the use of strict interpretation at a 'role playing' level and authenticity guidelines regulated by peer review. The primary activity of our events is centered on the 'camp', and as such we stress reproducing lifestyle and artefact use. The Company intends to provide a resource of skilled and experienced historic interpreters and physical demonstrators to museums and educational programs.

Time Period800 - 1000 AD
LocationNorthern Europe - Primarily Scandinavia, England and Ireland
CharacterizationsPrimarily Norse but can include Saxon, Celt, Britain, - peoples in regular contact with the Norse.

Authentically Re-creating the Viking Age - the Development of an Idea

DARC is the result of long discussions of a small group of serious Early Medieval re-enactors held in the early 1990's. This core group was drawn primarily from long term members of the Society for Creative Anachronism. More importantly, these individuals had experience from participating in a number of other re-enactment groups. Several people had also worked professionally at living history museums. Ideas were drawn from all of these experiences when establishing the guiding principles for DARC. The original concept for DARC was to form a small, specifically focused group with high standards of historical accuracy. This group was always intended to be limited to those who were willing to maintain a clear set of published standards. Everyone wanted DARC to require an established minimum be met before allowing anyone to participate in our historic camps.

1) DARC is drawn from a large number of people of varying backgrounds and interests (most of which have participated in the SCA or other re-creation groups). All these people share an interest in the history, and especially the material culture, of Northern Europe during the Viking Age, and wish to discuss their research.

2) DARC holds a regular series of paid workshops, hands on working sessions, and experimental archaeology projects on an annual basis. Participation in these events is limited, largely determined by the facilities available, and at the discretion of the member organizing each workshop or project.

3) DARC organizes separate (or segregated) historic camps that maintain a high level of authenticity. Each is conducted under a predetermined set of camp rules, and within a set scenario. One feature of these camps is that individuals interact within their chosen characterizations. Each camp is under the organizational control of a volunteer 'chieftain' who sets the scenario.

4) DARC continues to supply a pool of specialized historic interpreters for museum programs. Participants are each individually selected, based on past experience and expertise, to suit the requirements of the specific program by each museum's Event Coordinator.

There has been a growing number of people who have become frustrated by the lack of a venue to create and maintain a true historical re-creation of daily life centered on the Viking Age. Individual members had gained considerable expertise in fields related to this historic period with the related traditional skills and wanted to expand their activities into more elaborate experimental archaeology projects.

At the same time a small group of individuals from Central Ontario had been increasingly involved in serious museum projects related to the Viking Age. This started with the creation of the 'Norse Encampment' in 1993, followed by the demonstration of this program at L'Anse aux Meadows in 1996. Many informal discussions were held with other interested individuals over the next two years, followed by the writing of a set of proposed guidelines for a new re-enactment group. These guidelines borrowed heavily from the experiences of many other living history organizations, both professional and amateur.

The final spark that lead to the creation of DARC was the involvement of a core group of these same people as the only Canadian group selected to take part in 'Norstead'. This was the special historic event to mark the 1000 year anniversary of the Norse landing at L'Anse aux Meadows Newfoundland. A total of 13 individuals spent the early part of 2000 preparing equipment and perfecting their characters. In late August they made their way out to Newfoundland, to spend 6 days working as guest interpreters at the Norstead site.

After Norstead, several members stayed in Newfoundland to take part in the Viking Millennium International Conference (both as delegates and presenters). Once all of that group had returned to Ontario, DARC almost immediately was involved in work on the traveling exhibit 'FULL CIRCLE - First Contact' at the Woodstock Museum. Members were involved in physically installing the exhibit; lending reproductions as an addition to the main display, education program and promotional displays; providing workshop teachers and lecturers; and of course working as costumed interpreters for special events.

DARC is thus a group of experienced and enthusiastic historic interpreters. It includes members with considerable direct museum experience, academic credentials and artistic ability. Above all DARC is developing a proven reputation for excellence in their physical demonstrations with the public and authenticity in their re-creation of the Viking Age.

      Updated: August 26 2017 13:06:09.
Text © Neil Peterson, 2017
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