Escafeld is the pre-Norman name for Sheffield. The name didn’t change from Escafeld as much as evolve. The Saxon word Esc is pronounced esh, knowing that, say Escafeld very quickly lots and lots and you will get Sheffield. Centuries ago many people could not write let alone spell, so it was often the spoken word was the only way things could be recorded.
The area that is now the City of Sheffield has been occupied since at least the last ice age, but the settlements that grew to form Sheffield date from the second half of the 1st millennium, and are of Anglo-Saxon and Danish origin. In Anglo-Saxon times the Sheffield area straddled the border between the kingdoms of Mercia and Northumbria. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle reports that King Eanred of Northumbria submitted to King Egbert of Wessex at the hamlet of Dore (now a suburb of Sheffield) in 829. This event made Egbert the first Saxon to claim to be king of all of England. After the Norman conquest, Sheffield Castle was built to control the local settlements, and a small town developed that is the nucleus of the modern city.
The Escafeld Mediaeval Society was formed over 40 years ago by a group of Police Officers based in Sheffield. It all started in 1971 as the entertainment for the annual Police Gala where the aforementioned group performed a display on the theme of the Wild West.
This went down very well and the intrepid players were asked to return the following year, this time the theme of mediaeval knights was chosen. This was even more popular than the first show and some suggested that it might make a great hobby in itself. Sure enough, the Escafeld Mediaeval Society was formed in 1973 and so far has enjoyed almost 45 years of displays in Yorkshire and further afield in Wales and Scotland.
Escafeld has performed for many different occasions and has had the pleasure of performing for English Heritage and CADW at such breathtaking sites as Conisborough, Castle Rising and Caernarfon.
History as Hobby within Escafeld
The Escafeld Mediaeval Society exists to portray events as they may have occurred at a mediaeval foot tournament and other associated displays during the 13th century. Whilst this might sound a very narrow and specialised period it offers great flexibility both to participants and our clients. The Society boasts knights, sergeants-at-arms, archers, ladies and squires. The Society is family friendly too, we have members of all ages and backgrounds. All members are encouraged to develop their individual interest in the period and apply it to our displays and the potential of each member is limited only by their own enthusiasm.
A prior knowledge of the Middle Ages is not assumed at joining the Society and the array of advisors within the group are ready to assist and direct any new members with queries about equipment, costume and custom of the period. The equipment needed by a new member depends very much upon their perceived role within the Society but a simple costume is always a good place to start. These can very easily be “home made” but some members do prefer to buy costumes and other accesories at one of the many mediaeval markets which gather across the country. Some of the more well known traders can be found on our links page