Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Kim Siddorn

The funeral will be held tomorrow of Kim Siddorn, founder of one of the oldest and biggest re-enactment groups in the country, Regia Anglorum.

Back when I was an archaeologist, I met Kim, and other members of Regia Anglorum, when they came to the castle in North Wales where I was one of the diggers. The local community had got so interested in what we were doing at the top of the hill at Caergwrle that they decided to hold a Historical Festival, and they invited members of Regia Anglorum along to do living history and skirmishing.
It was great fun! I made a costume, one of the first medieval costumes I'd ever made, with Laura Ashley fabric and a pinafore dress pattern - and I asked a nun of my acquaintance how to make a proper wimple, which I could fasten on with three pins, and without a mirror, if I had to.
I went to work on the bus that weekend, in costume, which turned a few heads. Most people seemed to think I was a nun, despite the patterned fabric of my overdress. One of the Saxon ladies with Regia told me she had the same problem, which was why she had decorated her wimple with embroidery to make it less nun-like.
The chaps in Norman chainmail were great, too - I was doing some of the castle tours, showing what the archaeologists had found so far and talking about the history of the castle, and they were so enthusiastic! It was great to have a discussion with the people I was showing round, who knew about castle design.
Kim Siddorn did the commentary for the shows that Regia put on, and he was very interesting, talking about how members of the society looked at things like the Bayeaux Tapestry and tried to work things out by experiment - for instance, what were those little squares depicted on the tapestry attached to the chainmail cowl? It seemed most likely that they were extra face protection, which could dangle down when not in use.

So that show, and the one the following year, whetted my appetite for re-enactment. In fact, several people who were volunteering on the dig wanted to set up a Regia group in the village. The only reason I didn't join in the end was because I moved away to do archaeology in London - and the group in Caergwrle ended up as the Samhain Society, which still exists.

Here's a picture of the corner of the castle where the medieval bread oven was found - which I helped to excavate.

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