HEBRON — Heavy battle loomed Saturday morning between 150 Maine and Vermont medieval historical re-enactors on a large grassy field at Hebron Pines Campground.

It was the start of the Society for Creative Anachronism Province of Malagentia‘s 27th Great Northeastern War in East Kingdom.

Members of SCA work to recreate the lives of people who would have lived in Europe between 700 and 1600 AD as accurately as they can in the 21st century.

More than 800 people had arrived by Saturday morning for Malagentia’s annual four-day festival that started July 11 and ends Sunday, July 14.

It’s a prelude to Pennsic War, which runs from July 19 to Aug. 3, and features tens of thousands of SCA members worldwide gathering for an epic clash near Pittsburgh, Pa.

Saturday’s war pitted Malagentians from Southern Maine, and their allies —  SCA members from New Jersey and New York —  against Vermonters from the Shire of Panther Vale and their allies.

“There was a dispute,” said Malagentia Seneschal Jamie Driggers of Gorham, who portrays Baroness Astrid Sigrun Ulfkillsdottir. She explained how the “war” began.

“We wanted an east-west trade route built; (Panther Vale) thought it was just because we wanted to invade, so they thought they would head us off at the pass. We really just wanted a trade route, but they were not convinced, so they invaded into our territory and we have to send them back.”

Most combatants in the three heavy list (heavy armor) battles — tower, bridge and field —  wore 50 to 60 pounds of steel and/or aluminum alloy plate armor, chain mail and leather/plastic padding.

The fact that it was 83 degrees Fahrenheit when the war erupted figured heavily into the initial tower battle, which was a delineated point on the battlefield and not a standing structure.

Initially, 75 combatants each on two teams fought for war points, which determines who wins the battles. Those points are combined with other points earned from noncombat events such as archery, thrown weapons, arts and sciences and merchant shopping to eventually determine an overall winner.

However, the heat, grueling fighting and lack of endurance quickly dropped the knights down to about 40 on each side. They heartily attacked each other while acting out scenarios, such as fighting their way into an imaginary tower or defending or attacking points on an imaginary bridge.

In the field battle, which was done in three heats, each group took a side and then charged and attacked. Winners were determined by those left standing. Malagentia won that battle.

In the first heat, Sir Marcus Blackheart, the Northern Region Knight Marshal, yelled to start the battle. Both groups armed with colorful but dented shields, heavily-taped rattan wood or bamboo swords and spears, walked toward each other, armor clinking noisily.

When they were about 10 yards apart, a team captain yelled, “Go! Go! Go!” and the warriors sprinted and charged, everyone coming together with a loud resounding, “Whack!”

Fighters immediately started beating the tar out of each other and trying to hit key torso points hard enough for “kill shots” or armor-penetrating hits, which elicited a “Good Kill!” shout from the person getting whacked.

If they didn’t yell, that meant the attacker had to swing harder, fighter Seane Mills of Lewiston said.

“If you consider that blow to have been hard enough to penetrate your armor for a kill blow, then you call, ‘Good,’ for good blow, fall and cover up, because you’re dead,” Mills said.

Mills portrays Raiztlin, a bronze-level member of the Thunder Clan and 1st in command of the Mjolnir (Thor’s Hammer) Household.

“But if, say, it hits an arm, you lose an arm and you can fight on,” Mills said. “If it’s a leg (that’s hit), you can go down to a knee and you can fight from there. Body is a kill if (the hit’s) strong enough. Like, spear thrusts to the helmet are not a kill, because they would glance off the hard steel. If you get dinged in the head, though, you know, and you’re like, ‘It’s OK, I’m good,’ you’re dead. Pain is a good teacher.”

Fighters who were “killed” were allowed to resurrect and rejoin the fight for a while.

Mills said he was the first “casualty” of the heat, dropping to the ground and vomiting. But after he revived at the Water Bearers Support Station, he returned to the battle.

Water bearers also walk around the battlefield between fights. Using plastic tubing and a gallon jug of liquid, they work tubing through mesh face shields on helmets to help replenish fighters’ electrolytes, either with pickle juice or half-strength, lukewarm Gatorade.

Full strength, ice-cold Gatorade causes stomach cramps, Kerry LaPointe of Westbrook said. She portrays Mistress Carolyne de LaPointe and helms the water bearing station to be near her husband, who is one of the Malagentia fighters.

Great Northeastern War is primarily a “war practice” event. Combat forms are based on the tournaments of the High Middle Ages.

After one particularly hard-hitting skirmish, a plated spearman yelled, “I need duct tape! My thumb came off!”

Presumably, he was referring to a glove appendage, because he returned to the battle after another fighter helped him with his gear.

Mills, who said he loves the fighting, described the battles as chaos.

“It’s like trying to control chaos, because there’s things coming at you from everywhere and you and your guys are trying to control that while still getting through and causing enough damage on the other side and it really is something kind of like out of one of the movies,” he said.

Chris Stansel of Portland agreed with Mills. A spearman, he’s also into the fighting aspect and not the scenarios.

“I enjoy the running out, running after people and trying to put the pointy end into the other faction’s body,” Stansel said.

A U.S. Army veteran, Stansel portrays Cailte Crobdurg Mac Scandal, a 4th-century Irishman.

“My only regret is I wish I got into it sooner,” Mills said. “It’s very positive and its honor and chivalry values are so much better, personally, than I see in the real world.”

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