Nelson Medieval

MediŠval Living History in the Top of the South

Mediaeval Re-enactment 101

So you're wondering why we do this?  Well, for some it is the chance to shoot a bow or swing a sword, for others it is an interest in history or dance or music that started them off. Most people find that once they get involved they find a variety of new interests and develop new skills as they learn about the history and crafts of the period.

About now I should make the point that we are doing this for fun, so we openly admit we are only re-enacting the fun stuff,  and while it is interesting to learn about the societal structure of the era we bend the rules somewhat to fit modern ideals of gender equality etc.

We aim to make things as historically accurate as safety, cost and skill allows.  This goes for combat, clothing, food etc.  Part of the fun comes from finding out more about the particular time period and item you are making.  However, we understand everyone has different interests and levels of skill so as long as the intention is there to make things based on historical examples that the main thing.  And we're always here to help or point newbies in the right direction. 


So you're wondering where to start?

Well, the first thing to do is get yourself something to wear! 
You can buy clothes from stores online (such as 
Revival Clothing, Medieval Design, or Historic Enterprises) or sometimes you can find something on Trademe from another re-enactor.  However the cheapest way is to make them yourself.  Even if you've never made an item of clothing before you can make a simple tunic or dress.

Generally we'd suggest making clothing from linen and wool as these are historically accurate and very practical.  Linen is preferable to cotton (as cotton wasn't generally available in Europe during the middle ages). Natural fibre breathes better than synthetic (essential on a hot day!) and is safer around fires (be wary of using fake fur too, as this is also dangerous around fire).

Start with some lightweight linen clothing such as a simple T-tunic or dress so that you don't overheat during summer.  A cloak is also an extremely useful item - make from wool and line with linen (or wool for a very warm cloak!).  With a dress/T-tunic and pants, plus a cloak you will be prepared for most situations at your first event.   

A couple of books that we would recommend are The Medieval Tailor's Assistant  and The Tudor Tailor.  These can often be bought cheaper online than in bookstores.

The internet has a huge variety of resources for the novice costumer - the following pages provide a useful starting point:

Beginners Guide to Medieval Clothing

Your First Garb

How to Make a Quick and Dirty T-Tunic

T-Tunic the Period Way

Viking Men's Clothing

Articles from Reconstructing History


And these pages contain more information once you've mastered the basics:

Ten Tips to Look More Medieval

Medieval Clothing Pages (by Cynthia Virtue) 

The Costumer's Manifesto



Unfortunately, combat training has been suspended until there is sufficient interest to recommence.  

Combat can be undertaken with wooden weapons or steel and may also involve thrown weapons and archery. 

If you are interested, send us a message.

Feasting kit

Basic feasting gear consists of a bowl, spoon, knife, drinking vessel, and trencher or plate.  A range of suitable items is displayed in the photo below.   These can mostly be picked up at Op Shops and markets initially. 



2014-15 saw some developments in the craft area with members dyeing, wood turning, weaving sewing, making tents and starting viking buckets.

Other Books

Other Books of interest include the Osprey series on military history.