What is documentation and why do we need it?

The Arts and Sciences underpin much of what we do in Insulae Draconis and in the SCA at large. Some of us find our way to the SCA because of a desire to learn more about period arts, crafts and sciences, and some end up doing them through their love of another aspect of Society life - archers want to learn how to fletch arrows or leatherwork a new quiver, armourers want to learn how to work hot metal, fencers want to research renaissance source documents and so on.

Documentation helps us build up our library of skills. We love to see our members blog about their work, post to mailing lists or Facebook and answer one another’s questions. We also hold Arts and Science competitions, locally and at Principality (and Kingdom) levels. Research and documentation are very important to ensure the most faithful re-creation of the methods, crafts and skills of the Middle Ages.

In competition you must document. In a combat situation you must prove you are worthy to compete by authorising and being in correct armour. Good documentation is like making making sure you are proving to the judges that you are authorised in your field and are presenting the correct tools to enter. A person presented with a beautiful object in an A&S display may be completely won over as to your skill and talent, but they have not learned about the object’s context in our chosen period, they don’t know how it was achieved. Documentation serves the purpose of teaching the reader something about Arts and Sciences in the Middle Ages. It is also important to remember that it is not possible for any one person to be utterly expert in every field. Your documentation shuld provide the information to enable a judge to evaluate your work fairly, to appreciate your research and methods and your attention to authenticity.

Documentation should always detail why you made your piece, how you made it, what you learned along the way - including from your mistakes, mistakes teach us all and are very valuable to learn from. You should detail the research that started you on the path and how, when and where your piece fits into the how artisans worked in the Middle Ages.

You should also include references for your source material, so footnote everything. Credit sources always.

For more information, contact the Minister of Arts and Science.