The term Period refers to the time-frame that a recreation group researchs, recreates and represents. This can vary from a small number of years (say 50) to more than a millenium (eg. the SCA).
The SCA period is anything prior to the 17th Century. This is includes what some may regard as the Dark Ages, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Many people think that the SCA only covers the period from 600 AD to 1600AD, but Corpora states:
- "Period: The era used by the Society as the base for its re-creation activities. The Society is based on the life and culture of the landed nobility of pre-17th Century Western Europe, focusing on the middle Ages and the Renaissance." (Page 8)
Anything that had been discovered or was in general usage during this time-frame is acceptable at SCA events, unless it breaks mundane law or would be considered offensive; so no burning heretics! The major exception to this guideline is religion - although it was the mainstay of the medieval era, anything overtly religious is avoided. No-one is going to complain if you dress as a monk, nun or inquisitor, but you will be jumped on if you try to hold a religious service in a public space. What you do in your tent or pavilion is nobody's business but those in the tent with you.
By contrast, if something was invented or only in general usage outside of the above time-frame, it is considered to be out of period (often abbreviated to OOP). For example, mobile phones are OOP, but lasagna is not. Items not known to non-european cultures, but known to cultures that had no contact with them, might be called out of period in SCA useage, often used in useage similar to "it's out of period, unless your persona comes from Japan".
In a special interest group, for example a mailing list for Xth Century Clothing, period may refer to the Xth Century, even if that list is labelled as an SCA mailing list. An item might also be considered out of period for a person's persona, for example potatoes are out of period for a 6th Century Scotsman, but might be in period (if rare) for a late 15th Century Elizabethan noble, however while some in the SCA might know this information about their persona, few would care to live under these restrictions for long at an event.
Some few items are essential for safe recreation, and their presence, although out of period, is automatically ignored. Items like this include:
- eye glasses with modern frames
- medical aids
- safety equipement
- mundane sca paperwork and laws
- safety rules
Other items are considered by many to be "in period by consensus", as their omission of use would make life far more difficult and less fun. Some may crusade to remove these items for a more period look, but they will generally ruin the fun of many, with little impact on removal of the objects. Such items include:
The SCA centuries
- 7th Century
- 8th Century
- 9th Century
- 10th Century
- 11th Century
- 12th Century
- 13th Century
- 14th Century
- 15th Century
- 16th Century
- 17th Century