In the Society for Creative Anachronism we have a hierarchy of ways to organise the game, the larger it is, the more prestigious, but also the more complicated it is as the scale allows us to organise larger and more complex events and activities:

  • Kingdom - e.g. Drachenwald, a collection of smaller units with its own set of Royalty and events
  • Principality - e.g. Insulae Draconis, a smaller denomination, with Royals and events, a minimum of 100 members. ID currently has about 200, with an additional 50 or so non-member participants.
  • Barony - e.g. Eplaheimr. A minimum of 25 paid members, it elects a Baronial couple. Eplaheimr has about 55 members. Baronies can have sub-units, called Cantons. These are more formal than Hamlets
  • Shires - A shire needs a minimum of 5 paid members to exist, and three of the greater officers - the Seneschal (chair), an Exchequer (Treasurer) and one other - e.g. Webminster, Marshal, etc. The average size of an ID shire is 15-20, with some variation.
  • College - A group located in a third level education centre. These operate similarly to shires. Kingslake is the only College in ID, and functions as a sub-unit of Eplaheimr.
  • Strongholds - a group on a military base. The SCA came to Europe primarily via the US military. There are no Strongholds left in Drachenwald, though Flintheath has a historical connection to the US Air Force.

We have been Using Hamlets in Insulae Draconis for a few years now, as an informal way of encouraging activity where our Shire boundaries have been too large.

What is a Hamlet?

Historically, most of our shires have members scattered across several counties, making it very difficult to create activity. Thus the concept of the Hamlet was created a few years ago to encourage a more localised and informal approach. A Hamlet (Village / Tuatha) is a location where Regular Group activity can and does take place within easy commute distance. One could view a hamlet as a geographical Household (another informal SCA entity built around friends and family).

Hamlets create an excellent identity to encourage getting together socially and supporting each other, e.g. for organising car lifts to events, or meeting up to do arts and crafts. Hamlets can both be used to gather together like-minded people outside of a main area of activity (e.g. in Devon) or to reinforce an existing area of activity within a larger branch (e.g. Galway).

What other Benefits does a Hamlet have?

  • A Hamlet only needs one point of contact
  • This person helps guide and organise informally, communicating with interested members
  • They also liaise with their sponsoring branch, with whom they ought to be adopted as a branch officer
  • A Hamlet has the potential to become an incipient Shire or Canton, and adds a level of stability prior to entering the formal status of an Incipient Shire or Canton.
  • It can create a focus for activities, including multiple instances of an activity - e.g. a new fighter practice or arts and sciences evening.
  • A Hamlet can be listed on websites and newsletters to attract people to that location. E.g. If an established Shire fighter practice is 2 hours away, but a group of people interested in SCA fighting are closer, a Hamlet could be formed around them and a new practice established, with an additional layer of identity for that hamlet. In reverse, a Hamlet could be declared around an existing fighter practice to declare enhanced activity and attraction within an easy commuting distance.
  • A Branch can use a Hamlet as a way to focus on recruiting and development in a specific area, rather than just dissipating effort across the whole of its geography.

What are the Rules for a Hamlet?

By definition, very few, however we need some in order to ensure they are viable, fair and have the potential to develop and bring in new people.

  • A Hamlet needs a sponsoring existing branch and publicised as part of that branch.
  • A Hamlet requires a single point of contact. They usually adopt the title of Sheriff. They should be considered an officer of the sponsoring branch and participate accordingly
  • A Hamlet’s activities should be reported to the sponsoring branch, and included in that branch’s quarterly reporting
  • A Hamlet needs to come up with an activity plan, ideally with an eye to becoming a more formal branch of the SCA. A suggested timescale is four years.
  • All activities are open to all members of the Hamlet and the wider SCA. If you wish to be selective in who joins your activity, you are effectively a Household, not a Hamlet. The sponsoring branch will need to monitor activity.
  • If there is to be a fighter practice, then an official marshal needs to be available and agreeable to attend Hamlet activities
  • If there is no activity for twelve months, the Hamlet will be considered inactive at the sponsoring branch seneschal discretion,
  • If there is no point of contact for twelve months, the Hamlet is considered inactive
  • Inactive Hamlets will no longer be listed in the Regnum and Principality outlets, though the ability to re-list if future activity occurs needs to be retained at the discretion of the sponsoring Branch.
  • An Inactive Hamlet can be disbanded at the discretion of the sponsoring Branch - any listings in newsletters and websites can be removed.
  • Social media (e.g. Facebook, Discord) for a Hamlet is encouraged. Disbanded Hamlet social media can be maintained by members, should they wish, as long as the sponsoring branch is aware and agreeable.

How to name your Hamlet

Hamlet names are best when they provide a sense of identity to their local area or settlement. To note, there are formal naming processes within the SCA - just as with persona names - so anything used may need modifying once you start the process towards a more formal structure. For example, Hart’s Holt, an effort that is currently dormant, is a play on words of Hertfordshire and the great woods, or holts, it was famous for.

When starting a Hamlet, it is also good to ensure your publicity includes your area of operation - e.g. Limerick, East Midlands, etc.

Always get buy-in with your Hamlet members.

Should Hamlet have Heraldry?

Heraldry and badge-design is a fun passtime in the SCA. We have plenty of consulting-Heralds who can help. It is optional for a hamlet to have heraldry or a badge, just as households can. One the one hand it can feel like yet another task to complete, but on the other, having your own group’s heraldry is a fun way to generate a group identity and association, as well as being able to recognise each other at events. It also puts you in good stead for when you graduate to becoming an incipient Shire or Canton.

In my experience what tips help make a Hamlet work, in regards to the Barony of Eplaheimr?

Tuathas are great for pointing out that regular activities do take place in such a location, and may be used to create another group in that location in the future, either a Canton or Shire.

Tuathas are excellent for pointing out the locations where activities do take place, and should be listed under each group as a sub location of that group, it will make it easier for recruiting purposes, improving the attraction of your group.

For example, we have regular practice in Athlone, and would like to start another practice in Galway. Should we create a Hamlet in Galway -> YES BUT one in Athlone as well so there are 2 dots on the map, but too far away for coverage as a single group. So, by having three or four people in Galway, we can say they are a Hamlet (Tuatha in this case) and provide support at occasional events, while they organise their own gatherings and interest. We can also declare a Tuatha for Athlone, centred on our existing practice, and creating a local beacon of activity.

One thing to watch out for are Hamlets no longer organising regular activities and meet-ups. This can be due to initial enthusiasm burning out, changes of circumstance and so on. I would suggest you plan out a series of simple activities, such as a regular pub or coffee shop meet-up across several months, so people who can’t make your initial excited gathering know there is something they can make down the line - try to avoid such activity resting on your effort alone.

Any activities run by a Tuatha/Hamlet should be listed after approval by the Seneschal on the group website/Facebook/Discord. In Eplaheimr an event Practice needs to be approved by the Seneschal and added to the google calendar first. Should a group report on running multiple events but doesn’t publish the events it should be considered as an Household event.

The one issue I have had as Seneschal of the Barony of Eplaheimr is remembering where each Tuatha is located, so putting it in perspective for a new member it has to include the Mundane location name so it does make it easy to find.

If you are interested in forming a hamlet or Tuatha, please the ID Seneschal a note -

Have Fun!
Eplaheimr-Jin Unegen