Frequently Asked Questions
- Is it DARC or DARK?
Actually we use both almost interchangeably.
"DARK" is the short name for either the Dark Ages or the Dark Ages Recreation
Company (much like Grim is a short name for Grimbold). In addition it seems
to be easier for other people to remember. Finally it makes catchy phrases
like "Don't be afraid of the DARK".
DARC is the acronym for the Dark Ages Recreation Company.
Besides in Runes it's the same....
- What is your mission statement?
DARC seeks to create an environment that stresses historic re-creation of
the Viking Age (800 to 1000 CE primarily Scandinavia and England) through
the use of interpretation at a role playing level with authenticity guidelines
regulated by peer review. The primary activity of our events is a trading
camp, and as such we focus on lifestyles and use of replica objects. Our academic
research is reinforced by physical experiments into the technologies and techniques
of the period. The Company is also a source of skilled and experienced historic
interpreters and physical demonstrators to museums and educational programs.
- What are these characters you mention? Do you really
think you're Vikings?
No, we don't think we're really Vikings.
Personas are a tool of of the Role-Playing
level of historical interpretation. Our invented personas are supported by
ongoing research both in the material culture and sociological sources. Interactions
are carried out between members from the point of view of these personas -
using the techniques of living history interpretation at its most detailed
level (role playing). These interactions
add a depth to the persona that makes the public's interaction with them feel
The personas that are selected by participants reflect the actual working
skills and interests of individual members. For example, if the persona is
a blacksmith, it is expected that the person has some real skills and historic
knowledge of that trade. These characterizations are all based on either Scandinavians,
or peoples that lived in close proximity to them such as Jorvik Anglo-Saxons.
DARC is thus a working group of re-enactors, directly involved in practicing
traditional skills and actually living the life as in the past, at least from
time to time. We're as fond of things like hot showers and TV as the next
Personas used tend to remain the same from year to year but especially for
educational programs or Museum work may be heavily adjusted to suit the needs
of the specific presentation.
- Would they really have traveled with kids?
It is highly unlikely a true trading trip would involve babies or as many
women as we tend to take along. The sheer volume of artifacts that we travel
with (chairs, looms, large quantities of ironwork) is also out of proportion
to what would actually have been done. Both of these alterations are, however,
done intentionally. They allow us to display to the public a much broader
cross-section of the norse world. The best explanation to cover the equipment and personel we travel with is a colonist ship leaving Iceland bound for Greenland and blown off course.
- I've seen a bronze statue of Buddha in a Viking grave
-- can I be a Viking Buddhist?
Sorry, but no.
DARC works with what was likely to occur rather than what was possible. Sure
it is possible that the Buddha statue marked the grave of a Viking Buddhist.
It's far more likely though that it was a cool knickknack they picked up in
Samarkand (or was traded north from there) and that none of the religious
principles came with it.
In the same vein, while blue jeans were possible (blue dye was known, the
Norse did reach Egypt where cotton was made, they did use french seams, and
certainly they had rivets (on boats mind you), and they did wear pants) they
really are not likely to have been worn.
- Just how accurate are you folks?
The basic governing principle for all objects used in DARC's historic camps
or general public presentations is the 'three foot rule'. All objects are
expected to pass as historically accurate when seen from a distance of three
feet. The inclusion of any item is expected to be backed up by solid research.
When necessary (commonly for museums) our crews kick it up a notch. At this
full authenticity level we expect that all artefacts can be handled by people
and the only way to tell that it's not an original artefact is that it doesn't
crumble in your hands from age.
- Can I visit your camp if I'm not in a good viking outfit?
When we have a public display please come over and chat -- either interact
with the characters or ask your questions -- either way we'll suit our answers
to you. If we are set up at an SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) or other
group event we welcome visitors. If it's before noon just call out and come
on in. After noon we ask that you make an effort to help us. Throw on a costume
(even if it's not viking), pour your coke into a cup and throw the can away,
then call out and come in. We love to talk.
- Just who IS running DARC?
DARC does not maintain any kind of 'rank' or 'award' structure.
Decisions are, wherever possible, created through group discussion and consensus.
Founding members Ketill, Ragnarr, Bera, plus Kadja, form a steering committee
that oversees all matters and provides a governing body when necessary to
settle disputes, or to provide the final word on things. At this point in
DARC's development, this format provides as much structure as is needed. It
allows for community discussion and agreement. It also allows for specific
Currently DARC is not a corporate entity and there are no group funds. Honourariums
from museum demonstrations are paid directly to individual participants of
that demo. Any costs required to hold camps or workshops is shared equally
by those attending.
- How do I get involved?
We get this question from time to time so we thought we would post the response here in addition to on our FAQ page.
The Dark Ages Recreation Company was formally founded in 2000, primarily to provide high quality living history presentations centred on the Viking Age to museums. The Company's core principles are the result of discussions going back to the early 1990's. Many of these concepts were derived (if not outright raided) from existing museum interpretive programs, other living history groups, and considerable personal experience on the part of the initial founders. Another key aspect to the activities of DARC is the use of experimental archaeology to re-discover ancient working methods. Although the members of DARC are always keen to meet, and perhaps adopt, other 'kindred spirits', expansion into a wide based 'official' organization is not our intent.
DARC is a fairly tight knit group centred in Ontario, Canada that works as a single organized unit and does not support 'branch clubs' outside of our local area. As a result we grow very slowly.
This means the first question we ask is "where are you"? If you are outside of Ontario, the fit will be very poor. If that is the case we would suggest you join a local chapter of the SCA, Regia, or The Vikings. If none of those appeal you can always start your own group (just don't call it DARC). In rare cases people in remote locations are invited to participate in DARC via e-mail discussions but generally we recommend the Norsefolk email group.
If you are in Ontario then we would suggest that you begin by reading over our website. This explains our interpretive stance, general operation approaches, something about our current work, and even a general description of who is involved. This is quite important, as each of the available re-enactment groups, even in the same time period, have often quite different approaches. For example, DARC does not engage in any combat activities. Note that we have decided not to repeat a lot of basic information on the Viking Age - other web sites cover a lot of that. We do include an extensive bibliography and web links for basic research.
Assuming that what you read still makes you think you would like to join us then the next step is to come out and talk to us. Watch for our upcoming public presentations, or one of our camps inside the framework of the SCA. This gives you a chance to come see us in action. Yes we always look busy, and yes there are always a lot of people asking questions. Do take the time to hang around and talk to us. We are rarely so busy that we don't want to meet new people.
This step is important, because we want to 'check you out' as much as you should be checking on us. Dates should be on our calendar and you can always feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org We'll pass your email to the person best suited to answer any (specific) questions you have. We do get a lot of questions sent to us and we can't answer them all. Questions that show that you have put some of your own time into the topic are more likely to get an answer than "tell me everything you know about how the Vikings did this".
Normally, if there appears to be a good fit in attitudes and approaches, an individual may be invited up to one of our general workshop / experiment weekends. These are held at private residences, centred on a specific activity (and mostly not living history re-enactments). There will often be a blend of DARC and other interested individuals, but this allows someone to interact with the group on both a practical and social level.
In the past DARC has run two different types of workshop activities.
- Special Sessions involve hiring an instructor and renting a suitable facility. The assigned workshop coordinator remains in control of each event. Costs are born equally by participants, with spaces limited as determined by the instructor.
- Open Workshops are held at private homes with limited space and facilities. In this case the host has full control over the access and conduct of the event.
Any active member of DARC can hold a workshop or event at the time and place of their choosing, inviting the whole group or specific subsets of people as they wish. Members of DARC attend or don't as their schedules and interests dictate.
Typically, if there appears to be a good fit in personalities, we will invite people to participate on our closed e-mail discussion group. This gives new folks a chance to come up to speed on what the group is doing, and a better idea of just who knows about what area of research and skills.
An 'active' member of DARC is one who posts on the list and shows up for workshops and non-museum presentations that interest them. There are no group membership fees.
As most of our public face is related to museum presentations, we use a different system internally than most other living history groups. Each public presentation is specifically designed for the institution, and individuals from the pool of active members are selected based on skills, abilities, and experience. This is different from most other groups who use the 'who can show up' method. It is important for members of DARC to understand that they may not be recruited as individuals to participate in specific museum or educational programs. Numbers of participants, skills, or equipment required, may vary considerably depending on each museum or school's requirements. Participation in DARC thus does not ensure inclusion in these programs.
- How can I get more information?
- Where can I see you guys in action?
Our calendar of events can be seen here.