Main Page

From SCA Sports and Leisure; 'Because fun IS period'

Jump to: navigation, search

Because Fun Is Period - Angryhat

Welcome to my SCA Sports and Leisure Wiki. This is a private wiki and only I have the rights to edit any or add pages, but feel free to review the research gathered here.

Contained within these pages is research into sports and leisure throughout the SCA time period. While you can feel free to distribute any information gathered on the site, please remember to cite this website as the source.

Lord Cú Allaidh Dona



Children playing a variety of games[1]
Life in Medieval Europe was no cake walk -- what with all the plagues pestilence and wars, not to mention total lack of basic human rights – basically life sucked. Wake up work for the lord hide a scrap or two for your family, go to bed and repeat the whole process. Unless you were a lord, but even then, plagues cared not whom they struck, lord and peasant alike could be struck down, plus there was the tax collecting, answering to the king and other lords higher up the chain of command than yourself, etc ad nausium. Regardless of your class, you were required to attend church almost daily and there was a litany of religious rites and practices to follow. Sure life sure was depressing and boring back then, nothing to do but work and worship from sun up to sun down, unless you were at war, in which case it was nothing to do but kill or be killed sun up to sun down. At least that is the lesson we were taught in history class. How true is that portrayal though?

Sure there were tournaments for knights, and these were always grand spectacles of martial prowess and grandiose displays of pageantry. Peasants, lords and ladies alike watched with zeal akin to a modern day NHL or NFL game. Human kind however is an animal driven to create leisure activities. In this paper I will be examining ancient sports and games and how they were played, from stoolball to curling, battledore and shuttlecock to hurling, and much much more. I will be examining how, and who played the games, and how an understanding of these games can enrich the SCA as a whole.

It is my belief that by studying the games played by various cultures we can learn a lot about the people. People at play often show more of their true self then they ever do in a professional setting. Games can show us what they view as important and what they consider to be fair play.

In addition to research into the history of sporting in the middle ages I will examine the possibility of recreating the game within the scope of the SCA. Some games may not be reproducible safely or will be cost prohibitive, but I believe most will playable.


You may note that in some cases, such as hurling I am willing to accept the modern rules as historically plausible rules but in others, such as stoolball I do not. The reasons for this are two fold. On one hand there is the fact that the gap between when the game went out of favour and when it was revived in modern times is much smaller, and in fact in Ireland they claim the game of hurling never went completely out of fashion and that it has been continually played, despite not being able to prove that assertion it does seem possible. On the other hand there is the fact that within Irish legends there are descriptions of the game, and the descriptions do match closely to the game as it is currently played. Stoolball has no surviving descriptions of the game, couple that with the fact that it was not played for centuries it is clear that one cannot accept the current rules of Stoolball as historically accurate. Using the same logic it is can be assumed that modern Hurley probably has not altered much other than in number of players and certain safety rules. So I had to accept rules as either plausible or not based on the evidence at hand, since with most games I had to go by my best guess at the little evidence supplied I feel that my descriptions of how the games were most likely played in period stand up as plausible.

While some games have considerable historical references to pre 17th century play, many do not. Documentation of sports and leisure activities is rare and hard to come by. There are many sports and games that could not be included despite strong belief that the sport is within period. Kubb for instance is one of these games, many within the SCA and within the community of Kubb players claim that it dates back to the Viking area, however, while it certainly could be possible that the game was played in period, there is zero evidence to support this.

Many other sports such as football were mob rules, in other words players determined the rules as they went along and so there was no reason to formalize the rules and write them down. This is especially true of peasant sports, sports for aristocrats were often formalized and the rules ended up set down in print at one point or another, the primary exception to this is battledore and shuttlecock which is primarily a children's game and not a sport that nobility would place wagers on. I believe that sports such as Tennis, Golf, Bowls and other such sports of nobility became formalized primarily as a way to ensure that any wagers placed on the games were won or lost fairly.

Much of the evidence gathered comes in the form of warnings or laws against said sports, especially in Britain which tended to outlaw any sport which might in any way stop a man from practicing archery. As British law enforced that everyone had to practice archery in order to ensure that they could defend their lands at any time deemed necessary by their lords it made sense to try and enforce archery practice as the main leisure activity of the land, of course this rarely proved successful.


  1. KINDERSPIELE (Childern's Games) by Pieter Bruegel, the Elder, 1560

The Pages

Top 10 Pages

  1. Main Page ‎(48,226 views)
  2. Battledore and Shuttlecock ‎(11,604 views)
  3. Curling ‎(6,991 views)
  4. Dwyle Flunking ‎(6,736 views)
  5. Hoop Rolling ‎(6,694 views)
  6. Stoolball ‎(6,583 views)
  7. Bowls ‎(6,403 views)
  8. Golf ‎(6,102 views)
  9. Hop Scotch ‎(5,949 views)
  10. Skittles ‎(5,946 views)

Newest Pages

  1. Tag
  2. Blind Man's Bluff
  3. Golf Ball
  4. Teetotum
  5. Baste The Bear
  6. Dwyle Flunking
  7. Billiards
  8. Hop Scotch
  9. Hoop Rolling
  10. Flying Kites

All Pages

  1. Master List of All Pages
Personal tools
Google AdSense