Getting the most of historical reenactors - Part II

You've decided to go to a living history event? Good idea. Reenactors can really draw you into another world. However, you need to do your bit too if you want to have a truly memorable experience.

© Tim Prevett - Reenacting combat training at Caernarfon Castle

Reenactors and spectators, they're two sides of the same coin. I've been to many history festivals, Roman, Norman, Civil War, you name it, and I am a reenactor myself, so I know what I'm talking about.Here are a few pointers that might just help you get the most of reenactors:

1. Dress up if you can! If the reenactors have some kit to try on, do it. Kids, big and small, love it. Make sure someone takes a picture. You never know where that new Facebook profile picture could come from!

2. Ask questions. Reenactors love questions. Especially if it’s those left behind to look after the camp while a big event happens! Ask sensible questions. Some Romans reenactors with an infant did in all seriousness receive the comment “oh, did they have babies back then?”

3. Respect a ‘No’. It does look good to have the authentic kit on. However, some items are not for public handling. If someone says ‘No’, respect it. And certainly never draw a weapon from someone’s kit or personage. People do reenactment because they love it. They will show, talk about and allow handling of items - but respect their space and property. They’re also looking out for your safety!

4. Don't feel shy, get into the spirit of the event, and help create a great atmosphere. So next time, you're invited to cheer for or jeer against a certain knight, do it with gusto.

I had some magic moments and here's a clip from an event I once attended at a historic house. This gentleman popped up quite a bit and really helped make my day.

My own love affair with historical reenactment began at Haughmond Abbey near Shrewsbury (unfortunately not taking part in Heritage Open Days this year). In that year, after joining English Heritage, we were going to lots of events celebrating the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Shrewsbury. A mother and son team gave such a memorable performance that I got the bug for history in a big way. Who knows, you may catch it too. And if you do, I'd love to hear from you.